How to Manage Family Stress
It doesn’t take an expert to know that managing family life can prove incredibly stressful. Between shuttling kids off to several activities, keeping a clean home, managing finances, and getting food on the table, family stress can add up quickly. It’s no wonder that 79 percent of American adults report feeling stressed sometimes or frequently throughout the day.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by pressure in your family life, you are far from alone. The good news is that there are things you can do to systematically reduce the stress that you and other family members experience.
Step 1: Make a List of Your Family’s Stressors
Before you can remove unnecessary stress from your life, you must identify what is putting you under so much pressure. Start by making a list of the things in family life that stress you out the most. You can also ask other adults and older children in the home to do the same thing.
Try to be as specific as you can when you make your list. You can write down small and severe things. For example, your list may include things like the trash never getting taken out and trouble in your relationship. It’s all stress, even if at varying levels.
Some examples of stressors on your list may include:
- It’s too hard to get the kids to all of these activities
- I’m not sure how to make ends meet this month
- The kids keep fighting
- My spouse and I are not getting along
Whatever the list is, be honest with yourself. For some people, cooking dinner every night is a tremendous stress. For others, it is a creative outlet. Try not to compare yourself with others when you make this list.
Step 2: Make a Plan Together
Once everyone who wants to has made their list of stressors, take some time to go over these lists together. Most importantly, give everyone space to be honest about their emotions. If people can’t share openly, the process will not work for everyone.
Once you have all the stressors laid out, try to find ways that you can reduce each other’s stress. For example, if one person really doesn’t like cooking and the other doesn’t like doing dishes, try switching. You may also find that a voluntary activity is giving everyone stress.
For other things that cause pressure, you may have to come up with more involved plans for change. See what each person can do to help others in the family and themselves.
Step 3: Change One Thing at a Time
Once you have a plan, it’s time to start implementing it. While you may feel drawn to the idea of changing everything all at once, try to take things slower. After you take out the natural changes, like giving up an activity that nobody likes or needs, take on the more prominent changes one at a time.
For example, maybe preparing dinner every day is too much for one person. Give the rest of the family one day to figure out dinner and have a leftover day once per week. These changes give you some relief, but don’t shake things up too quickly.
Sometimes, reducing the pressure in your family life is too much to take on by yourself. There’s no shame in asking for professional help. The therapists at LifeStance Health can help your family go through these steps and develop positive coping mechanisms for the stress you cannot eliminate. Contact us today to get started on this path.