WHAT IS FAMILY STRESS?
Even though we usually think of stress as affecting only individuals, it is possible for an entire family to be affected by stress. How can you tell if your family is under stress? Some signs are family members becoming withdrawn or irritable and relationships between them may be unpleasant or argumentative.
Family stress is the tension that arises from demands or pressures (stressors) on the family to change. These demands include a move to a new home, a job change, a child starting school, as well as other reasons. One reason entire families experience stress is because the lives of family members are intertwined and a problem in one person’s life affects the others. Family stress also occurs when an entire family is affected by a transition, such as marriage, parenthood, the birth of a new child, a child going off to college, and middle age.
Stressed family members fall ill more often and frequently demonstrate less productivity at work and school. Parents play a determining role in decreasing family stress levels.
How do you keep the family stress under control? Here are a few tips:
Physical Stress Busters
Look around your home. Does it look like a pleasant environment? Clutter, dirt and harsh lighting don’t exactly decrease family stress and encourage relaxed and happy family members. What’s the temperature like? Is it comfortable, or are you shivering because of the air conditioning?
Natural light and light sources mimicking sunlight help reduce stress and promote a feeling of activity. Consider bright, cheery colors for family rooms and soft, relaxed tones for bedrooms and bathrooms.
Adding a few plants to you home makes it seem more cheerful and the plants help clean impurities out of the air. You can even use subtle scents to reduce family stress; peppermint, for example, is known to both relax people and increase brain activity.
Set the Pace.
What’s your own attitude about stress? If you come home anxious because of your work, the rest of the family picks up on your emotional state. Stress feeds on itself; if you look worried or agitated, chances are you’re passing those feelings onto your closest family members.
Smiling more and frowning less, believe it or not, can reduce family stress levels. Even when you’re anxious, try to present a relaxed, calm demeanor.
Avoid Micromanaging the Kids
While parents are supposed to track what everyone is doing, micromanaging the children’s lies robs them of personal responsibility and pride in their own achievements.
You can reduce family stress considerable by learning to trust your children. Learn to judge each child’s abilities, let them know what’s expected of them and let them claim responsibility for their own actions. Simply knowing that you trust them reduces children’s stress levels.
Foster a sense of togetherness
Some families have little sense of togetherness; family members rarely interact, and everyone feels isolated and alone. Because humans are social creatures this environment fosters stress. On the flip side, spending time together as a family is a natural family stress reliever.
Family time can be as simple as sitting down to dinner at the table instead of eating in front of the television. Some families have game nights, others take walks together. The main goal is to talk to each other, to share experiences and work out solutions to problems.
No one likes to live without recognition. The simple act of thanking family members for doing chores can reduce family stress, as can recognizing achievements or handling difficult situations with friends. You appreciate it when your boss recognizes your hard work. Your kids feel the same satisfaction when you recognize their achievements.