Parenting can be very stressful. Sometimes stress is caused by outside sources, and sometimes we place stress on ourselves unnecessarily. Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a working parent, a single parent or a married parent, mother or father, parent of one child or several children, staying calm and cool can help you get through the day. Stress management tips and relaxation exercises have proven useful to adults whether or not they are a parent.
Our body tenses up when we are worried or anxious. Actually, this is a natural reaction. Our body is responding to a threat. When the emergency is over, our body relaxes and returns to its normal state. Our mind is bothered by many things. We call this stress. Constant mental stress keeps our body in constant tension, which becomes a form of stress. Chronic tension can cause sleep disturbance, increased or decreased appetite, headaches, stomach aches, poor concentration, and irritability. Also, our immune system can be weakened making us more susceptible to infections. We can handle stress and tension by learning to cope with situations so they no longer are stressful. We can also learn to relax.
The following are three ways to begin on your journey to relaxation:
- Progressive Relaxation
This first step starts with learning how to control your tension by tightening and releasing muscles in your body. Start with your feet and lower legs. Tighten those muscles as hard as you can. Feel the tension, then, gradually release the tension. Let your muscles relax a little bit at a time. Repeat this with your upper leg and hip muscles, hands and lower arms, upper arms and shoulders, stomach muscles, and chest muscles. With each muscle group, you will begin feeling relaxed, calm, and peaceful.
- Deep Breathing
When we are tense, our breathing is often rapid and shallow, causing our body to be robbed of oxygen. Learning to breathe properly involves finding a comfortable place to lie down and placing your hands on your abdomen just below your ribs. Begin breathing slowly and deeply. If you are breathing properly, your abdomen will expand before your rib cage. Spend 10 to 15 minutes a day practicing.
- Take a Mental Vacation
When we think about things that upset us, our body tenses because the lower centers of our brain, which regulates body functions, cannot distinguish between real and imaginary images. Replace that bad image with a good image. Begin your mental vacation by relaxing your muscles and taking a few deep breathes. Then close your eyes and imagine you are someplace you enjoy. For example, it could be the beach or the mountains. Try to fully experience the event by seeing the sights, hearing the sounds, feeling the air, and smelling the smells. As you practice this, it will be easier to feel like you have been on a vacation or just come back from one in just a few moments.
Stress is something that is a part of life. We may never be able to eliminate it, but wouldn’t it be satisfying to know that we could leave our children techniques that would enable them to cope with stress and beat it? Their lives would be longer and much happier. Let’s all make a pledge to learn these techniques and pass them on to future generations.