The stress factor
Heck, everybody’s got stress. It’s just that the most stressed people I know happen to be parents in single-parent or blended family situations. So, I figured I would share this story that I came across on the newswire from Woman’s Day magazine.
I added the emphasis in the text below for effect. I mean, we certainly don’t have a monopoly on stress. My colleague and friend, Noreen O’Donnell, says she’s written on this, and that there’s a direct correlation between stress and the amount of control you have in your life â€” not necessarily the number of stressors you have to grapple with.
Fair enough. But it seems to me that parents have additional worries â€” and are more likely to feel less in control â€” than your average citizen. More so for single or divorced parents, who have that and more stressors to boot. That’s just me.
But see what you think:
From the editors of Womanâ€™s Day magazine
According to the annual Stress in America report from the American Psychological Association, extreme stress strikes a third of Americans regularly, with one in five getting hit a whopping 15 days out of the month.
Of course, thereâ€™s the everyday anxiety thatâ€™s caused by a looming work deadline or too-busy schedule, and then thereâ€™s the big-time stress that comes with a major life-changing event â€” like divorce or dealing with a chronic illness. Coping with both requires similar techniques and habits. Womanâ€™s Day magazine outlines a plan that will reduce stress in your life now â€” and help you prep for the big stuff later.
â€¢ Pinpoint your biggest stressor: Go through a day or two with a pen and paper handy, and jot down everything that stresses you out as it happens. OR sit back (when youâ€™re relaxed) and visualize your typical day; make a list of all the things you dread doing. Part of what gets people about stress is that it feels uncontrollable. When you get specific and have a concrete list, life starts to feel manageable. Decide what really gets your adrenaline going, and focus on changing that first.
â€¢ Cut back on one thing: If your issue is that youâ€™ve got too much to do around the house between the cooking, cleaning, taking caring of the dog, and shuttling kids to school and activities, choose one night (or two or three) that youâ€™ll order dinner out or pick up a prepared meal at the grocery store. In many cases, being overscheduled is the culprit so figure out what you can say no to.
â€¢ Prioritize: Make a list of what has to be done by this morning, the end of the day and the end of the week. Focus on what needs to be finished fist, then move down the list. Often what makes us panic is the big picture – not the three things we have to get done by today, but the 17 things we have to do by the end of the week.
With four steps down you can make these anti-stress moves part of your everyday schedule.
â€¢ Move: Regular daily exercise can lower levels of stress hormones
â€¢ Pop on headphones: Any music lover knows that listening to your favorite tunes can make you less tense almost immediately
â€¢ Chat on the phone with a friend: It keeps your social bonds strong, which gives you an overall feeling of support and belonging.
â€¢ Take a deep belly breath: Abdominal breathing increases the amount of oxygen in your blood, triggering the brain to decrease the concentration of stress hormones.