Learn to relieve the stress

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, February 19, 2011

QUESTION: I love my children, but I can get so tense when all of them are home together. Remind me, please, how to relieve some of the stress that comes with family life.

ANSWER: Even in the best of circumstances, family togetherness can be a “mixed bag.” Being everyone’s mom or dad isn’t always easy. Here are a few ideas for creating peace when you’re under pressure.

Escape for awhile. Tell your family you are taking a “time out.” Take a walk, listen to music, call a friend, take a nap, read a magazine.

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Take action. Exercise causes our bodies to manufacture and release endorphins into our blood stream that actually makes us feel better.

Eat well. Sugar highs and lows, crabbiness from not enough water, sluggishness from a lack of protein or iron, depression because of too much alcohol can make problems seem even worse than they are. Eat a healthy diet to maintain your energy all day and to fight off disease and infection.

Be realistic. Stop for a minute, take a deep breath and look at the situation again. How bad is it really? Will you even remember this in a year?

Make a change. Even small changes can relieve stress and help us see things from a different perspective. Perhaps gathering the family together around breakfast or dessert or popcorn is a better idea than trying to get them all together at a dinner table.

Ease up. Go easy with criticism of yourself and others. Let go of the idea that things need to go exactly as you planned. Remember: life is what happens to us while we are planning our future.

Keep it simple. Take one thing at a time. Break big challenges or chores down to smaller steps.

Laugh. Share the stories of past challenges you survived that now cause both a groan and a chuckle.

Play. Play is good for our bodies, our brains and out attitudes. Play with your friends, play on your own and especially, take time to play with your children. How long has it been since you’ve played jacks, or pick up sticks, or colored in a coloring book, or put together a puzzle, or played the piano, or read your favorite childhood books?

Remember what you love. Close your eyes and see the things of the past that still belong to you. I can see myself as a little girl standing on my dad’s shoes as we waltzed around the room. What do you see?

If you would like to talk about raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-0528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org