From daily stress to bigger crises, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. You might feel like you need to pretend nothing’s wrong for the sake of your kids even when you’re grappling with huge burdens. However, staying positive doesn’t mean ignoring the triggers and results of stress. Instead, you can show your kids that it’s possible to keep going even when you’re feeling intense stress. You can help your kids develop positive coping strategies for life’s stressful situations by trying out a few strategies for yourself. Here are Crème de la Crème’s tips for staying positive even when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Be Gentle With Yourself
“woman hugging boy on her lap” used with permission via Unsplash by jwwhitt
You try to exercise patience with your kids when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Give yourself the same grace. Take some time to identify how stress affects you, then emphasize building (and truly implementing) a plan for personal self-care.
Whether you’re facing an immediate challenge or just feeling the stress of daily life, you can learn strategies that help with preventing, recognizing, and coping with stress. Once you identify triggers that tend to leave you feeling overwhelmed, you can better anticipate stressful situations.
Of course, you can’t avoid every stressful moment. So, you should also equip yourself with skills that let you practice self-care. You can only care for others if you have strategies in place that help you cope and build resilience in stressful situations. Think of it like what you hear on an airplane: Before takeoff, the flight attendant reminds everyone to put on their own oxygen mask first in an emergency. You need to deal with your own feelings before you can support your children with theirs.
Focus On the Good
Draw your kids’ attention — and your own attention — to good things when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Yes, this is easier said than done, and yes, you need to pay attention to the causes behind your negative feelings. However, those stressful thoughts don’t need to dominate your existence.
Instead, make sure you pay attention to moments of joy, even when the overall situation is getting you down. Take some time to call out those joyful aspects. Your kids will follow your example.
Help Kids Understand Stress
Pinpointing reactions to what stress does to you can be hard, especially for kids. Understanding how stress leads to what you’re feeling can go a long way in figuring out tools to manage that stress. In kids, symptoms of stress can mimic other common complaints, so it can be tough to figure out when to step in. Left untreated, though, stress can cause depression, anxiety, and more.
You can act as a model for constructively dealing with stress. Draw an outline of a body and highlight different areas where stress can create problems. While every kid (and adult!) is different and can experience physical symptoms of stress in different ways, demonstrating how a body can show signs of stress can help kids connect the dots.
You can talk about the connection between stress and your own symptoms, all while explaining to kids how you deal with things when you’re feeling this way. You can’t always avoid feeling overwhelmed, but you can show kids how to better understand and then cope with those feelings.
Make a Plan
When things feel overwhelming, make a plan for the day ahead. Building a routine is something you can control. A routine can offer some calm in the face of uncertainty, both for you and for your kiddos. Creating a task list or to-do list every morning can help relieve stress. A list can give you something to expect and a way to break tasks for the day into manageable portions. Just make sure you don’t make your daily list too extensive — that will only increase your stress.
For example, if your child has classes or activities on a set schedule, build your routine around those times. Make sure you include snack time and breaks to recharge. That goes for you, too! If you’re building a schedule for your family, don’t forget your own downtime.
If you find making a list helpful overall, take things a step further by adding self-care tasks. Whether that’s time for journaling or meditating, taking a walk, or taking a nap, having the task on your to-do list can help make sure you actually do it. From simple stretches to an hour outdoors, taking breaks can help you better deal with feeling overwhelmed. Exercise and physical movement improves brain function and memory, too.
Maintain a Calm, Safe Home Environment
It’s really tough to keep your home environment calm when you’re feeling overwhelmed, but it’s essential to modeling positive coping strategies for kids. You don’t have to mask your emotions. Be honest with your kids when you’re feeling stressed, upset, or scared, and let yourself step away to take a break when you’re feeling angry. Showing kids that it’s possible to feel these feelings and react appropriately will help them learn their own coping strategies.
At the same time, you want to develop your own healthy coping strategies that ensure you can maintain calm at home. Efforts to make your immediate environment calmer will help your kids feel safe and secure.
Ask for Help When You Need It
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Help can come in a number of forms depending on your personality and unique situation.
Whether you reach out to friends, family, or community groups or look to professional mental health providers, showing your kids that it’s okay to get help when you’re feeling overwhelmed demonstrates another essential coping skill. You’ll also get necessary support for yourself.
Staying positive when you’re feeling overwhelmed can feel like a big challenge, but you don’t need to create even more stress for yourself by trying to be perfect. Showing your kids positive coping tools is even more useful to them in the long run. Do you have another tip that’s helped you in times of stress that we didn’t include? Drop us a line so we can add your advice.