While stress is a normal part of life, it can have a serious impact on your physical health and emotional wellbeing; which is why it is so important to find coping mechanisms for processing and dealing with stressful situations. Feeling stressed alters the way in which your body functions, as it enters into a flight or fight response. It means that your normal bodily functions, such as being able to sleep or process food, become inhibited, as your body is put on high alert. While this can be a beneficial reaction in the short term, such as not feeling tired when working to a short deadline, it can truly be harmful when this form of stress becomes chronic.
There are a number of common symptoms of stress, such as repeated physical discomfort, including a stomach ache or a migraine, especially when the occurs in a pattern. There are also emotional changes to look out for, such as if you feel like you are experiencing unpredictable mood swings or if you witness a disinterest in participating activities in your children.
While stress can take many different shapes and forms, there are some really common stressors which many families face, from daily hassles such as having getting a parking ticket, to more life-altering events such as a death in the family. Here are some examples of common stressors, and techniques for dealing with them as a family.
Financial troubles can be caused by a number of issues, to facing unexpected bills, being put into debt or even facing redundancy at work. While money is not more important than family, it is unfortunately needed to keep a family as happy and healthy as possible. Which is why facing financial uncertainty can put a lot of strain on you as parents. Not only that, but children are receptive to your feelings and fears, and so they too will feel the stress of financial worries. Therefore, whenever you are facing the prospect of having to tighten your budget to try and make ends meet, it is important that you have an open and frank conversation with your children, as much as you can.
Not only will this help to alleviate any concerns they might have, as you can answer their questions, but it also means that your children will be more understanding when you can’t afford to buy them certain items. It may also be a good idea to discuss what your plan of action for tackling these issues will be, such as if you plan on looking into a loan site, or whether you might have to sell certain possessions to get some extra money in. That way your children will be informed enough to support you through your choices, rather than rebelling against them.
People end up having to move home for a number of reasons, from wanting to move to an area which you feel would be more suitable for raising a family, to having to downsize to spend less money on the home. Whatever the reasons, moving home can be a very stressful time in a family, as you are moving into the unknown and leaving everything familiar behind. You might even have to move to a new job interview, and your children to a new school, which can be incredibly daunting for both you and them.
Try to give your children as much warning as possible if you are considering a move, and allow them the space they need to express their opinions on the matter (even if they are not particularly positive ones), as often children just like to know that their opinions are being valued. Get everyone actively involved in the plans for moving, such as by looking at the houses as a family, or letting everyone choose how to decorate their bedrooms, as this will help convert anxiety into excitement and anticipation.
Bereavement and Loss:
Death of a loved one may well be one of the most stressful situations a person can face and can put a great deal of strain on a family unit. Grief can express its self in a number of different ways, from becoming withdrawn to lashing out in anger or sadness. Therefore, it is important to appreciate that each person within the family may react in different ways and to be understanding and supportive of one another during this difficult time. By cultivating an open and honest atmosphere within the home, where people feel able to express their feelings about the loss, you will create a space where people don’t feel the need to bottle up their emotions, which will help to reduce any residual conflict in the household.
Even trying to complete normal day-to-day tasks when you are being affected by a simple cold can be trying, so when a more serious illness is affecting you or someone else in the family, it can really take a toll on the family as a unit. Children, in particular, are very perceptive of other people’s emotions, which is why it is important not to hide things from them, as it may only give them more cause for concern. Do your best to explain the illness to your kids in detail, so that they are able to be more understanding. Try not to placate your children by overindulging their needs, as this will only cause more imbalance within their lives. Instead, try to keep to your usual routines and maintain an air of normalcy where you can.
If you and your partner are facing relationship issues, it can affect the atmosphere within the household and cause a great deal of stress for everyone involved. If you feel as though your issues may be heading towards separation, then you will eventually need to have a direct conversation with your children about what is happening and answer all their questions with as much honesty as you can. Try not to show any bias or negativity towards one another if you can, as this is important for maintaining feels of security in your children while going through these changes.