Everyday life for parents can be very stressful. However, it can be even more stressful in the midst of a pandemic. The good news is that there are several ways that you can reduce your stress, and help prevent stress-related illnesses.
Follow a Daily Routine
Your daily routine may be disrupted by everything that is going on. However, it is best for you to try to follow a daily routine as much as possible. Make a daily or weekly schedule. This will give you structure. Structure also helps kids feel more secure, which can help reduce stress-related behavior problems.
Being physically active is one of the best things that you can do to alleviate stress. The World Health Organization recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. If you can’t go to the gym, then there are many ways that you can get exercise at home. For example, you can take an online exercise class. You can also take breaks during the day and engage in some sort of physical activity. Short periods of exercise will add up.
As holistic pediatricians, we recognize stress as a contributing factor to a declining quality of life. The news can be a double-edged sword where this is concerned. We need to stay informed, but we recommend not “stalking” the news. “Doom-scrolling” is a new term that describes fixating on negative news, to the exclusion of being present in our own lives. If you catch yourself doing this, you may want to set specific times to check the news, instead of letting it invade your entire day.
Spend Time in Nature
Spending time in nature can help reduce stress. In fact, studies have shown that spending 20 minutes in nature can lower your cortisol levels. Time in nature doesn’t need to be in the woods. Just taking a walk at the local park can help you connect with nature and get your exercise in.
Practice Deep Breathing
You can instantly alleviate your stress by breathing deeply. Consider practicing controlled breathing three to five minutes every day. Here is a quick guide you can add to your daily routine: https://www.umcvc.org/health-library/ug1812
Many have found themselves increasingly isolated in the past year. It might be more difficult to make new friends during this time, but we can go deeper with the ones we already have. If you are finding yourself withdrawing socially, consider setting a weekly reminder to call one of your friends. They are probably feeling the isolation, too.
Laughter truly is the best medicine. It is a great way to alleviate stress and forget about your problems. Do you have a favorite comedy that always makes you laugh? Poll your friends on their favorites and start catching up on those that you haven’t seen yet. It will help further conversation with your friends, and help lighten the mood, at the same time.
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, energy drinks and chocolate. Excess caffeine intake can make you more anxious and stressed. If you find yourself leaning on caffeine more than usual, you might be experiencing fatigue. First, you may want to check that you are getting enough exercise. Secondly, check if you are staying hydrated. Mild dehydration can sap your energy. Thirdly, you may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor. Many parents have neglected their own health during the pandemic. Consider this a prompt to address any tardy wellness checks.
Seek Professional Support
If you are really overwhelmed, then it is time to seek out professional support. Many parents are managing schedules that are constantly in flux, with remote work and a seemingly ever-changing public school situation. The added stress can grow to more than we handle with our preventative measures. Our children pick up on our anxiety, as well. If you are seeing signs that your family needs support, give us a call. As you are addressing your own anxiety, your children may need to be assessed for theirs, as well. We are here to help.