Stress is a natural part of life. It’s one of the constants in life that, like pain, reminds us that we’re humans and that we’re alive. It is inevitable. The only thing we can do about stress is to manage it well enough that it doesn’t affect our mental and emotional health.
What is Family Stress?
We encounter different types of stressors daily. Some are work induced, while others have to do with our surroundings, just like this pandemic we’re in. However, one of the things that are harder to deal with is the stress caused by our own families.
Things are a bit harder when it comes to dealing with familial concerns. After all, almost everything we do revolves around our families. Whether it’s doing work we don’t like, having a home remodeling project done, or picking weekend activities to do, our decisions are affected by our love for our families. We deal with issues at work because we want to provide well for them. We do everything we can to keep ourselves safe from diseases because we want to protect them.
Family stress is brought about by the changes each member experiences as they grow older. Some are minor, but others, like unemployment, serious health conditions, or death, can cause a lot of hurt, frustration, anger, and sadness.
Why should the focus be on the family even if an individual member is the main stressor?
When it comes to discussions about family stress, most experts recommend going through it as a family. Putting the focus on a single person — whether they are the stressor or the one severely affected — is counter-productive because each member of the family is affected or traumatized by the event/s that took place.
For instance, a father with a substance abuse problem is not the only one affected by his behavior. A cheating spouse’s behavior puts the family at risk. A teen who habitually bullies kids at school has deeper issues that need to be addressed by each family member.
How does one cope with family stress?
Family stress is one of the most real things in life we will all encounter. While we can’t do anything to prevent or eliminate them, certain things can be done to help manage them well.
Be aware of your triggers and stress cues
Becoming aware of your stress cues is a part of knowing yourself. Identify what ticks you off and what triggers you to be stressed. Encourage the whole family to do the same and share with everyone what their triggers and cues are so you can watch out for one another.
Do something relaxing, fun, or meaningful
Sometimes the cause of stress in a family is not having enough time to enjoy life. Take the time to relax as a family and do some fun stuff together. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It just has to be meaningful.
Make sure you are getting enough quality sleep
Lack of sleep can cause people to be more irritable and cranky. This poor disposition can greatly affect those around you and ruin their day. Ensuring that you’re getting enough sleep and rest lessens the chances of waking up on the wrong side of the bed.
Practice mindfulness and breathing techniques
If things aren’t going well and you feel anxiety creeping in, sit down for a while and take deep breaths. Clear your mind and focus on your breathing. It allows you to do something about what you can control: your breathing and your thoughts.
Acknowledge your thoughts and emotions
Stress management is not denial. It is, in fact, the opposite. It acknowledges your emotions and thoughts and takes them into consideration so you can be compassionate to yourself.
Be mindful of your family’s emotional needs
Not only are you supposed to show compassion to yourself, but you should also extend understanding and empathy to your family who’s also going through their own set of struggles during tough times. This lets you become more connected with them as you all recover from something traumatic and painful.
Work with what you can control
Life is truly full of surprises. There’s nothing you can do about it. However, you can control your response to life’s curveballs. Instead of throwing tantrums or feeling sorry for yourself, dedicate your time, energy, and resources to the restoration and recovery process.
Build a strong support system
Recovering from unpleasant and traumatic circumstances is not always easy. More often than not, it will test your character and push you to your limits. That’s why it’s important to have a strong support system that will stand with you and help keep you going through tough times.
Learn to laugh more and not take everything too seriously all the time
It’s no joke when they say that laughter is the best medicine. This is a fact that is backed by years of studies and research. The ability to laugh at mistakes and not take oneself too seriously has helped keep countless people grounded and prevented them from sinking into depression. Learn to laugh more as a family. Tell jokes, watch or read funny things, and talk about interesting situations that happened at work or school. Whatever it is, finding things to smile, giggle, and laugh about will help you appreciate the simple things in life.
If you or anyone you know are dealing with serious family matters, tell them to seek professional help and guidance to help them better deal with the issues and preserve their mental health.