Stressful situations arise all the time, and often it may seem that there’s nothing you can do about stress. Our family responsibilities will always be demanding, the bills won’t stop coming, and the day has lasted and will always last 24 hours despite our needs for an extra hour per day. Even though it may look like chaos at times, still we have more control over our lives than we tend to think. The simple acknowledgement that we are in control of our lives is the foundation of coping with stress, especially at home and in our family. Managing stress is all about taking charge: of your thoughts, emotions, schedule, and the way you deal with problems.
Stress at home is a real deal, opposite to what most people think. In fact, a recent study showed that people, both men and women, are more stressed at home than at work. Homegrown stress can be traced to numerous sources: never-ending household tasks, financial worries, spousal problems, sick or elderly person to look after, and you simply do not get to go home from home, and to walk away from these responsibilities and potential stressors.
Healthy tactics in coping with stress
There are many healthy ways to manage with stress, and they all require either changing the situation that leads to stress or changing your reaction to it. When deciding which of the mentioned options to choose, it’s helpful to think of the four “A’s”: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept. Unhealthy tactics such as: smoking, drinking, overeating or sleeping may provide a temporary relief, however they cause more damage than good on a long run.
- Identify your sources of stress
Coping with stress at home begins with recognizing the source of stress. Your true sources of stress, even at home, aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
In order to better understand your sources of stress and your personal patterns of behavior it can be helpful to start a “stress-journal”. You can start by answering these 4 simple questions: What caused your stress (make a guess if you’re unsure); How you felt, both physically and emotionally; How you acted in response; and What you did to make yourself feel better? Keeping this journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them.
- Accept what you can’t control
There are many situations in life that you simply can’t control, and if you fail to recognize such situations, your stress level is likely to skyrocket. By learning to distinguish between those instances in which you can have an impact and those in which you cannot, you may feel both more productive and less overwhelmed;
- Balancing Work and Family
Working and bringing up children often is challenging. There will inevitably be conflicts between work and family responsibilities, so prepare as much as possible. Build up your support network, emergency funds, and your own energy. Use effective coping strategies and don’t put impossible pressure on yourself. Plan ahead, get help when you need it, and look for creative solutions.
- Get organized
Living in an organized, tidy house brings with it a sense of control; and that sense of control may be accompanied by a decrease in stress. Additionally, by developing a system that corrals household items – such as keys, sunglasses, and cell phones – you may avoid that frazzled feeling that comes with constantly being in search mode;
- Indulge yourself
Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to fight off stress. So when stress makes you feel bad, do something that makes you feel good to fight the bad mood. You can find pleasure in simple things such as taking a walk, a long bath, chatting with a friend over coffee, or reading a good book.
Try to do at least one thing every day that you enjoy, even if you only do it for 15 minutes.
- Easy your schedule
Pages long to-list at home almost always leads to stress. One way to avoid stress is to learn to prioritize and say “NO”.
- Accept any help that’s offered. If you can afford it, consider paying someone to help with the cleaning, shopping or laundry, especially at busy times.
- Rely on rituals
Following a routine allows you to take back control over a part of your day, and can help relieve tension and anxiety. Whether it’s taking a bath before bed, running in the park in the morning, gardening or coffee after lunch, in time of stress don’t skip it, it really helps to turn to your comforting routine, when stressful situations leave you feeling powerless.
- Infuse your home with calm
How comfortable and calm you feel at home can determine how often you will feel stressed in that environment. Your home’s physical surroundings can contribute to creating a sense of calm, so integrate natural elements such as stone, wood and plants. Even wallpaper colors can contribute to this feeling of calmness. Some recommend painting the walls in cool, calming colors such as light greens and soft blues. Another suggestion is to integrate soothing lighting by using lamps with dimmer switches.
- Emergency Stress Stoppers
There are many stressful situations — at work, at home, on the road and in public places. These emergency stress stoppers help you deal with stress on the spot, no matter whether in your home or elsewhere. You may need different stress stoppers for different situations and sometimes it helps to combine them. Consider the following: count to 10 before you speak, take three to five deep breaths, go for a walk, don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry” if you make a mistake, set your watch five to 10 minutes ahead to avoid the stress of being late, break down big problems into smaller parts, avoid busy roads to help you stay calm while driving. See which of these work for you and use them in future when stressful situation arises.
Acknowledging the fact that stress cannot really be diminished from any environment, and especially from your home, practicing these tactics can help you react to stressful situations better, and make your home a more pleasant and stress-free environment.