TACKLING FAMILY STRESS

Adults are being put under more pressure than we have ever seen before. We are burdened with high workloads, increased financial strain and mounting pressures from day-to-day obligations. Stress is a very real issue and it affects us all.

According to the findings of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) the top five causes of stress in Australia as of 2015 are:

  • Personal finances – 49 per cent;
  • Family issues – 45 per cent;
  • Personal health – 44 per cent;
  • Trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle – 40 per cent; and
  • Issues with the health of others close to us – 38 per cent.

 

As adults we are aware of the presence of stress, but how does this stress affect our family?

Unfortunately within a family unit stress can be contagious. There is a vast amount of information available for stressed adults, but how do we as a family work together to keep the stress to a minimum?

As human beings, we crave togetherness. Kids are so busy with school, homework, sport, activities and friends their days are pack full. We adults as I mentioned above are also pushed to the limit. So our fundamental need for community isn’t always being met. According to the APS survey, Australians with children have reported a higher level of wellbeing than those without children. This finding is great news, often we let our minds wander back to the days of what life was like before our little cherubs arrived, life was definitely different, but with children now we experience a higher level of wellbeing. So we need to make this a priority. Spending time together and showing affection to our children reduces our stress levels and also reduces stress response in kids.

One of the joys of being a family is what we all contribute. It can also mean there are significantly different personalities, personal preferences and opinions to manage. This alone can create stress. Creating an environment that has some flexibility for all the differences will help when a crisis or other stressful situations occur. Whilst having clear rules, boundaries and expectations. This will then allow children to be themselves, feel comfortable and most importantly feel safe and secure.

Living a healthy lifestyle as a family goes a long way in reducing stress. Feeding your family a balanced diet of nutrient-dense food, with a healthy level of exercise and sleep will create a foundation your children can take into adulthood. Also actively taking a break from social media and unplugging our kids is essential. A clinical review in Paediatrics magazine showed households with high social media use are more likely to experience depression, anxiety and sleep problems. I recently wrote an in-depth look at this you can read the post here.

Stress is real and it affects us all. Identifying the impact that it has on our families is important. Having a stress-free family isn’t going to happen, stress will continue to pop up. Having the ability, energy and healthy environment to work through stressful times is key. Use your family as a soft place to fall and be happy, create an environment for that to flourish. Remember alone we can do so little together we can do so much.

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