Stress is typically a condition we don’t recognize until things are far out of hand. We may say we’re “stressed” when someone asks how we’re doing, but often the signs of truly being stressed out show up in ways we don’t even suspect, and that’s especially true of familial stress.
Try as hard as you may to shield your children from your marital woes or not bring work home and burden your spouse with it, life happens and the way we respond to it often effects those around us, especially our families. Sometimes we can recognize the effects of our projections early and self-correct, other times we don’t recognize the damage until someone — or everyone — is in crisis mode. Think your family unit might be experiencing too much stress? Check out these signs and advice on what you can do about them.
1.) There may be in an increase of sleeplessness, cough and cold symptoms, fever, body aches, stomach problems, headaches and more. Stress can manifest itself through physical symptoms. If you and members of your family are chronically sick or seem to have a cold that doesn’t end, the cause may actually be stress.
2.) Family communication is suffering. Conversations may be minimized as children may be reluctant to speak up or engage in conversation with parents, fearing a negative reaction. Adults may also choose to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves thinking they can “handle it” alone, not realizing that bottling their feelings up only adds to their personal stress.
3.) You are sensing withdrawal from your children and partner and you may be withdrawing as well. When families experience stress, they can become distant and withdraw from one another. This is because individually they may have a lot on their mind and/or a lot going on in their life outside of the home, which makes it difficult to focus on other people and other things.
4.) Fighting with one another has increased. Stressed families take that stress out on each other and that means more fighting. We are quicker to shout at one another and more likely to engage in bickering and fighting than we normally would.
5.) One sure sign of constant stress is exhaustion. Whether you are and your loved ones are experiencing sleeplessness or have a lot on your mind, a tell-tale sign of exhaustion is that despite having gotten enough sleep you still feel tired.
If any of the above sound familiar, here are some tips for combating familial stress.
1.) Talk. Have an open, honest dialogue that includes the whole family and allows everyone to speak and be heard. We may not really know what is going on with each other until we communicate and you may find ways to help each other out and to lessen the feelings of stress by talking.
2.) Adopt healthy habits as family. This can include exercising together, going for walks, doing yoga and meditation. It can also include establishing good sleeping and eating habits that can reduce anxiety and physical stress.
3.) Spend quality time together and make it a dedicated time. For example, make one night a week family nigh. Play games together, watch a movie, cook dinner, etc. The key is to spend time together and to relish the small moments shared with each other.
4.) Confide in a non-judgmental trusted friend and encourage your family members to do the same. If all else fails, seek professional help. If you have tried everything and exhausted every option to strike balance in your family’s life and to ratchet down the stress and it hasn’t worked it may be time to seek professional services. If everyone is extremely stressed, they will not be equipped to help each other out.
The most tried and true method of stress relief in the family, and in general, is to identify the root causes of the stress and to address those. Otherwise it is like putting a band aid on an injury that requires more attention and you won’t get rid of the problem that is the actual cause of the familial stress.