Stress: Reducing Your Stress and Anger
Stress and motherhood go hand in hand. We pretty much hit the ground running and don't stop until our heads hit the pillow. But, if we don't deal with our stress and anger levels, our relationship with our children will reflect that tension. (I've noticed that when I'm tired and cranky, my kids act tired and cranky too.)
Here are some ideas to help you short-circuit stress before it escalates into anger:
1. Take care of your body.
- Lack of sleep, poor eating habits and not getting enough exercise can substantially shorten your fuse.
- Do your best to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night, even if it means leaving a few emails unanswered, a household chore undone or skipping that late night TV show.
- Choose healthy meals for both your family and yourself. And snack on treats with plenty of fiber, protein and vitamins.
- Chocolate and sugar-filled snacks may boost your energy for a short while, but beware the post-buzz sugar drop that can leave you feeling exhausted and irritable.
- Watch your intake of caffeine. Too much coffee, tea or soda can make you feel edgy and tense.
- Walk off the stress. Studies indicate that even a 15-minute walk can help you regain your clarity and calm in the midst of a stressful situation; and it can even help lower your blood pressure.
2. Overhaul your schedule.
If you and your kids are overbooked, cut back. Dance classes, sports activities, music lessons, art classes and other activities can be very rewarding. But they can also require a huge commitment of time, especially when you have more than one child participating. Ask yourself if the rewards are worth the demands on your (and your child's time), and if the rushing around, especially on school nights, is the best way to structure your time.
3. Count to 10 …. okay, 20!
When you're confronted with a stressful moment involving your children, stop immediately to take stock of the situation. Take a few deep breaths, get your bearings and then visualize how badly you'll feel afterward if you lose your temper with your child. Even if you're tempted to resort to harsh or belittling words or an unkind tone of voice, try to hold it in. If you feel like you're going to explode, leave the room or step outside. And keep breathing!
4. Hands to yourself.
Never hit, spank or slap your child in anger. It's not a good idea and it sends the wrong message. Again, if you're on the brink of doing something unwise, leave the room. Also, slamming things around sends the wrong message too. Replace the impulse to lash out with another non-violent physical activity. Take a brisk walk, a quick jog or do some sit-ups if you can remove yourself from the situation and regain composure. If you can't, try jumping up and down in place. It will help you relieve the stress and might just get you and your kids laughing.
5. Don't hesitate to get help.
Help can come in many forms. Ask your husband, a relative, a trusted neighbor or friend to take the kids for an hour so you can get away and regroup. Consider hiring a babysitter for a couple of hours so you can do something for yourself. If you're worried that you have a serious anger problem that's beginning to get out of control, you need to get help from a professional. Do whatever it takes to keep your stress level and anger level under control.
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