Stress is a given in everyone’s life, and it can fluctuate from being manageable to out-of-control pretty quickly. Children are not immune to stress, whether from school, friends or within the home itself.
Regular routines promoting stress reduction can play an important part in keeping the family happy and healthy. Start with small habits that are easy to integrate and build as appropriate.
Leaving Workplace Stress at the Door
Parents can consciously switch off workplace stress when exiting the office. Bringing workplace tension into the home environment not only makes the adults uncomfortable but children start picking up on it too. If work is particularly stressful consider these techniques:
- Visit the gym straight after work to run off excess anxiety.
- Go for a relaxing or therapeutic massage at the end of the workday.
- Take a yoga class before dinner to unwind from work.
- Jog around the neighborhood to clear the mind and then come home feeling refreshed and ready to participate in a family meal.
Create Relaxation Routines with Children
Turn existing routines into a time to relax and unwind. Children can play a large part in how much Mom and Dad are relaxing too.
- Carve out a quiet time upon waking to sit in meditation or prayer.
- Play relaxing music such as instrumental or classical styles to promote a peaceful environment.
- Enjoy a religious tradition at home such as blessing the meal before eating or praying at bedtime if appropriate.
- Turn the evening bath time into relax time using lavender or other relaxing aromas and soft music.
- Exchange foot rubs before bedtime with an older child or give an infant massage to baby.
Communicate to children that they don’t need to be sick or unwell to ask for a tummy rub, or some alone time with Mom or Dad.
Restrict Distractions and Electronics when the Family is at Home
Instead of switching on the television right after dinner, build in family chat time (“How was everyone’s day? What was the most beautiful thing someone encountered today?”)
Computers, televisions and gaming systems may be overly stimulating in the evening and lead to a difficult episode falling asleep. Board games, puzzles and hobbies can be welcome alternatives to distractions like the above. Consider one night a week as hobby or game night when everyone can spend time in the family room enjoying each other’s company. Some families choose to read a story before bed, as the children get older they can take a turn at reading aloud for a spell.
Enroll the Help of Mindfulness Practices and Practitioners
For some families, the day-to-day stressors become unmanageable and lead to members feeling unwell, children acting out, or mental health issues coming into play. When possible, seek assistance outside of the home to continue stress reduction patterns when members return to the house.
- Introduce the child to a bodywork modality, like reflexology, to promote relaxation.
- Attend weekly classes in meditation, Tai Chi, yoga or other mindfulness practices.
- Find a family counselor that can see individuals and the whole family to work out tensions and stress when appropriate.
- Take a workshop on a stress reduction modality like aromatherapy, flower essences or the like.
Building healthy coping mechanisms for stress will go a long way towards closer relationships, less fear and turmoil in the home, and healthier habits down the road. As children begin to understand different stressors they will depend on these routines to get them through rough days.
This article originally appeared on Suite101.