As parents, we rarely choose to focus on ourselves. Even when we do notice we are getting increasingly tired, sleep-deprived, moody, or stressed, we plow right on through and keep focusing on our children.
However, learning how to destress and relieve tension will, in fact, make us better parents. Remember the rule of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first in case of an emergency? Destressing is precisely that: giving yourself time to breathe and reboot so that you can continue raising some amazing humans.
Here are seven ways you can feel better and reduce some of the tension.
Understand Your Triggers
To be able to destress, you first need to understand what it is that stresses you out. That way, both you and your family will know what to expect in certain situations, so you can adapt accordingly.
For example, your stress may be caused by having to get something done in a very limited amount of time. When this happens, you can choose to limit your to-do list or ask someone to help you out, lessening the load and the stress levels.
Take a Time-out
Sometimes, we just need five minutes alone, away from the rest of the family. And this does in no way make us bad parents. In fact, taking that mini break can make us better ones.
When you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, or in need of catching up with your own thoughts, let your family know. Come up with a signal the kids will understand and respect. You can literally show the time-out sign, which will signal to everyone you need a break. Or, you might put up a red sign on your bedroom door, telling the kids you need to be left alone for a short while.
Think of Something Funny
When one of your family members is stressing you out, or you find yourself in a situation that is causing you a lot of stress, refocus your mind by thinking of something funny.
Ideally, you want to think of a situation that involves the person who’s causing the tension. For example, if your child is throwing a tantrum, instead of letting the negative emotions overwhelm you, think of them at their funniest or silliest. If it’s your partner who’s being a bit tiresome, think of a good laugh you shared.
The surge of positive memories will balance out your cortisol levels, and you will no longer be as stressed out. This will also help you deal with the situation at hand better.
Treating yourself is always a great way to destress. It doesn’t have to be a major routine, nor do you have to go to a spa, take an entire weekend away from home, or go out for a special dinner.
For instance, you can treat yourself to some skincare products you like and take 10-15 minutes of alone time in the evening to enjoy them. Since stress is also very harmful to our skin, this routine will be beneficial in multiple ways.
Order a book you’ve been wanting to read and schedule in some time to read a dozen pages every day. Find a new recipe you want to master and make an evening of it.
Take (Another) Shower
If you’re having a particularly bad day, a restart can come in quite useful. All you really need is another shower, really.
The alone time will help you destress and reboot, and the shower will make you feel refreshed and reenergized. It also sets you up for a new start, as your mind can be tricked into forgetting about the bad morning and refocus on the rest of the day ahead.
Talk It out
There are people who believe talking about their problems is half of a solution already and those who believe that you should only be talking about a problem if you are trying to solve it.
Whichever group you belong to, find a support system that will hear you out and give you the time and space you need to talk about and find solutions to the situations that are causing you stress.
This can be your partner, but you may want to find a more neutral person. A therapist is always a great idea, but you can also speak to a friend or family member. Just make sure to keep your stress-focused conversations honest, and don’t let them cause you any more stress.
Let It Go
Finally, the best thing you can do about any stressful situation is to let it go. Stop dwelling on it, and make it a part of the past.
Continuously dwelling on events that have happened, things someone has said, or things you wish you had done differently won’t help you at all. It will likely just add fuel to the fire. If you keep feeling stressed out, your fuse will only be shorter, and you may end up in a vicious cycle that you won’t be able to get out of easily.
Stress is an inevitable part of life, and we have to accept it as such. As long as you find your own ways to destress on an everyday basis, you will better be able to cope with everything life has to throw at you.