Stress Management for Parents

September 7, 2016

Stressed Out Mom

What images come to mind when you hear or read the word “stress”? Some may reflect on challenges, transitions or difficult times in their lives. Others may connect stress with something amazingly wonderful like the birth of a baby or the purchase of a new home.

Stress was defined, according to the American Institute of Stress, by Hans Selye in 1936 as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” Some stress can be good, helping us to feel energized and motivated. But when stress becomes too much to handle, it can have negative effects by undermining our mental and physical health.

As we encounter stressors, our bodies respond physically with increased heart rate and blood pressure, tense muscles, decreased immune system functioning and a heightened state of alertness. All of these responses help us face the immediate threat. But when these symptoms are experienced long-term, we can be left feeling tired, irritable, sick and less equipped to handle the challenges in our lives. This can be especially true for parents who feel they have too much to do and not enough time as they manage the day-to-day care of young children, run households and work.

Some simple ways to help eliminate, minimize and manage stress.


  • Rest. Sleep. Rejuvenate. Research indicates the lack of adequate sleep produces adverse effects on the body. While many adults may “function” on less than the recommended eight hours daily, doing so may produce harmful results.
  • Hydrate, Hydrate, HYDRATE! A leading cause of stress is often related to dehydration. Over 50 percent of the human body is comprised of water so when the body is depleted of its natural sustenance, its ability to function is hindered. This deprivation may result in fatigue, headaches, migraines, heartburn, achy joints and muscles, stomach pain—and even water retention.
  • Plan Ahead. Establish realistic goals. Recognize and share opportunities for others to utilize talents, increase leadership skills and promote value. Celebrate simple accomplishments.
  • Learn to Say “No”…and Follow Through. There are times we must say “No!” to additional tasks or invitations. Of course, there are protocols and parameters around to whom, when and how we do this. Remember, this can also help the times when you ay “yes” more meaningful.
  • Change Your Attitude. Research has shown that how we feel about our experiences—not the experiences themselves—dictates how we respond. So shifting to a more positive perspective can help you respond to stressful situations more effectively.
  • Affirm Others and Yourself. Words have tremendous value. Use your words to create joy, peace and a low-stress life! “Laughter has got to be the single healthiest activity one can perform. Just think how healthy you would be if you could sincerely laugh at that which now oppresses you.”—Darrell Calkins

This article was written for the September 2016 edition of Parent Source.