Let’s be real, being a parent in a ‘normal’, non-pandemic, non-election, non-remote-learning season is pretty darn challenging. Lump all that together, and it’s easy to be completely stressed out as a parent. Our Kidventure team is not only made up of fun-loving, spirited camp people, but many of us are also parents. And like you, we’re stressed. So we got together to share our techniques for lowering the blood pressure and putting a little chi into our tea. These are our top 5 techniques for reducing stress for parents that don’t involve cocktails (another blog post) and a special tip for each that we think will help you keep it cool.
# 1 Meditate
Believe it or not, mental stress as well as physical stress causes increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol produces many harmful effects such as the release of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. Which in turn, can disrupt your sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase your blood pressure, and cause the rest of your family to avoid you like a 14 day quarantine. Meditation clears space in your mind and allows you to create calm. In an 8-week study published in Science Direct, mindfulness meditation reduced the inflammation response caused by stress and provided people with a tool to sort through what is actually important and what is not. Several of us at Kidventure practice meditation and have made it a part of our daily routine. Ohm.
A great (and free) App that we love is Insight Timer. With this app, you can choose from thousands of meditations, music, and talks to help guide you to that ‘happy place’ and in turn, encourage the rest of your family to hang out with you once again.
#2 Work (it) Out
Regular exercise will bring amazing changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. It has an uncanny capacity to calm the mind, provide for a sense of peace, and reduce stress and anxiety. Harvard Health Publication says, “It’s a common experience among endurance athletes and has been verified in clinical trials that have successfully used exercise to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression.” If athletes and patients can derive psychological benefits from exercise, so can you. No, you don’t have to start Cross-fitting five days a week. Begin by choosing an activity you enjoy, like walking, riding a bike, or running and be consistent. Force yourself to stick with it for 2-3 weeks and watch how it becomes an opportunity you can’t wait to do, and one you hate to miss!
Print a one month calendar and solely devote it to your new exercise. Put it in plain view so you are reminded of it every day. Next, schedule your walks, run, or whatever you want to do to exercise. Each day you complete it, cross it off the calendar. Visually seeing your accomplishments rack up will provide you with a sense of achievement and that extra lift to keep going!
#3 Prepare for Tomorrow, Today
As a parent, so much that stresses us out has to do with time or the lack of it. We all know how ‘pleasant’ mornings can be trying to get the kids out of bed, making lunches, eating breakfast, making coffee, and getting out the door. AHHHHH. Take a little time the night before and prep as much as you can. Better yet, get the kids to help do it. Load up the coffee maker, pre-make the kids’ lunches, and plan breakfasts that are healthy and easy. The extra time you’ll get in the morning will create a way more peaceful experience, and set the tone for the rest of the day for everyone!
Here’s a super easy recipe for Breakfast Muffins you can make the night before and keep in the fridge. They are healthy and popular with kids and adults.
#4 Chill Out
Alright, easier said than done, we know. But many of us have a tendency to place way too much importance on way to many things, when we should do the opposite. Life is crazy right now. Take stock in what is the most important things in your life and those that bring you and your family the most peace of mind. Curl up on the couch with your significant other, binge a little Netflix and leave the dishes for tomorrow.
Several of the Kidventure team have a light weight hammock. They are easy to pack and we bring them to overnight camp. We don’t know the science behind them, but throwing one up between two trees and relaxing in nature definitely has some significant effect on the chill factor. One we love is the Eno DoubleNest Hammock. It’s big enough for two friends, or way roomy enough for just your little self.
#5 Music for the Soul
Music can affect the body in many health-promoting ways, which is the basis for a growing field known as music therapy You can drop music in your daily routines and achieve a ton of stress relieving benefits. One of the best reasons to use music, is that it can be enjoyed while doing just about any of your regular activities. Music provides a wonderful backdrop for your life and you can find increased enjoyment from what you’re doing while reducing stress from your day.
Create playlists for different parts of your day. How about an Upbeat Motown playlist for cleaning the house or some John Coltrane while getting ready for bed. Here is a playlist we like to play around the office while we’re trying to focus. In fact, its called Focus (and I’m listening to it as I write this article). Enjoy…
Feeling a little stress is ok, but experiencing too much over an extended period of time is unhealthy for anyone. The demands as parents, our work, the pandemic and everything else that takes place in our world requires that we care for our mental wellbeing. So take a little time and invest in yours. The dividends will be enormous, not just for you personally, but for your family too.