Stress is a killer—literally. I think most of us know this. And yet we seem to often be stressed out. Some of us even take pride in how much stress we can handle. Take it from me, sooner or later you will start to feel the negative effects of stress. Its like a high interest loan–great for getting us out of a life or death situation. When we are worried about how to send our kids to college, whether our child is eating enough to grow, or the quality of our parenting the cost may outweigh any benefits. The good news is there is something we can do about it.
Here are seven secrets to a stress-less day for parents:
1. Stressed is dessert spelled backwards. We often crave foods that will give us a quick burst of energy when we are stressed. Our body is asking for the foods in nature that are full of nutrients and long term energy. Unfortunately what is often available is junk food which adds stress to our bodies. So reach for whole foods to reduce your stress.
2. Sleep more, stress less. Sleep is a time that we restore, rebuild and revitalize. When we are stressed we struggle to get enough sleep. And when we do not sleep well we are less able to cope with stress. So try to get plenty of sleep, naps and rest.
3. To do or not to do. Often we have very long to-do-lists. Too long. They can overwhelm us and keep us paralyzed. So look your list over find one to three items that you must absolutely get done. Do them before you do anything else. This will reduce your worry and give you a sense of accomplishment.
4. Laugh. When we can see humor in a situation we reduce our stress. Laughter actually ends our stress response. So when you feel really stressed try to find something amusing.
5. Cry. Sometimes we can’t laugh. It is too hard or painful. We find ourselves holding back tears. This is counter-productive. If we can step away and find a safe place to cry, we will end our stress response quickly.
6. And don’t forget to breathe. When we are unable to laugh or cry, when we have to much to do and not enough time, when we are operating on little or no sleep and have found ourselves at the bottom of a bowl of ice cream, there is one tool that is always with us. Our breath. Every time we breathe in and out is an opportunity to change our stress levels. So slow it down and breathe deeply.
7. Get support. Having someone to talk to can end our stress response. Find someone who has been in your situation, who understands what you are going through. They may have creative ideas to help you see your options more clearly.
Take any of these ideas that resonate with you and give them a try. Doing something to reduce stress that stresses you out, won’t help. So choose wisely. And know that investing a little time to manage your stress will help you have a stress-less life.
Erika Maxwell, Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, literally got sick from stress. She spent five days a month unable to eat, drink, move or speak, often ending up in the ER on an IV. Being that sick that often affected her relationship with her husband, kids and everyone around her. As a result, She learned how food powerfully influences her mood, energy, ability to focus and cope with stress. As the mother of two children, one of whom literally could not eat for five years, she gets stress. Taking small steps to manage her stress has profoundly changed how she relates, parents, and feels. For more ideas on how to manage stress check our her website www.maxwellnourished.com or go to a Chaos to Calm Quickly two hour retreat at Montclair B.A.B.Y.