I was working with a family the other day, and was reminded of a Bernstein Bears episode. It is the one where everyone is running in every direction, the calendar is overflowing with activities, and eventually, we see Mother Bear break down crying. They decide to have a family meeting and work on culling their calendar. Everyone feels better.
I have a theory. A lot of the conflict that goes on in homes is because the stress level is too high and then energy is wasted on coping with the overload. When people are chronically stressed, they have less patience and compassion for those around them – thus the criticism and yelling. Make sense?
When I work with parents I always ask about the stress level in the home. I find this helpful in many ways:
- It makes families aware of their stress level. Many families keep going and going, day after day, wondering if the pace and stress of their family is average, like other family’s stress, or just the way life is these days.
- We can brainstorm ways to help everyone de-stress. Sometimes it feels difficult to have your kids cut back on a an activity they enjoy. But remember, you are setting an important example of self-care, being proactive, and prioritizing mental wellness. These behaviors will serve your children well (and you) for the rest of their lives.
- It helps families without blaming anyone. The stress is the focus, not an individual.
What are some things that you can do to de-stress your life?