written by: N Nayab•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 5/19/2011
Stress management is important for most professionals and others who lead a busy lifestyle, and more so for working parents who have to balance their work and life responsibilities. Read on for top stress management tips for working parents.
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Stress management is a series of techniques to help people cope effectively with difficult and testing situations, and thereby, improve their emotional and behavioral faculties. It involves exploring the person’s current way of approaching stress and devising the most appropriate way to improve or alleviate unwanted stress.
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One of the most important stress management tips for working parents is to remain organized and in control of situations.
Working parents invariably find themselves juggling many things such as children’s homework, preparing meals, household chores, and work responsibilities, all at once. Undertake such tasks promptly without procrastination. Lags can lead to many pending items, accumulating stress build up.
Organize and multi-task effectively through time management skills. Effective time management for working parents takes place in two dimensions. First, evaluate the time already spent to identify ways of doing things better and cutting down on time wasters. Second, plan and make sure to keep slack times to cater to the unexpected. When faced with too many tasks, prioritize based on task importance and on what cannot wait. Prepare a list of tasks in advance, probably the previous night, schedule the order of tasks, and stick to the set routine as far as possible, while keeping slack times to cater to contingencies.
Never commit to more than what one can handle, be it at home or the office. Examples of resisting pressure on demands for time include resisting the temptation to agree to the child’s request for an outing on a weekday, or resisting the temptation to slack at the office and bring work home.
Lend clarity to cherished values, but set manageable and realistic goals. Very often, thoughts lead to stress. Clarifying values and setting attainable goals based on such values reduce stress greatly.
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Another of the important stress management tips for working parents is flexibility aimed at striking an effective work/life balance. Working parents do well to opt for flex-time or telecommuting whenever possible, or opt for a job that allows some degree of flexibility to accommodate cranky or sick kids, meetings at school, and other life commitments. Working parents also need to ensure the family adapts to accommodate work demands. For instance, working parents may have to postpone family dinners to work overtime and compensate for a day off with a sick child.
Achieving such two-way flexibility and consequently lesser stress is possible through effective communication skills. Good, honest, and open communication with both work partners and life partners helps identify areas of agreement and disagreement and allows for a win/win situation.
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Extreme time pressure and conflicting demands of contrasting roles invariably puts working parents under extreme stress. Find the humor side of things, and take things lightly. For instance, a young child using an office report for drawing practice is both an occasion to blow the lid and to appreciate the child’s creative ability. Opt for the latter and make another print out of the office report. Fretting and fuming over the situation causes increased stress without changing anything. Of course, remaining organized to be in a position to make a backup copy helps.
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The time tested techniques of work stress relief such as exercise, relaxation, meditation, yoga, taking a walk, swimming, reading a book, listening to music, indulging in a hobby, and dietary approaches of cutting down on sugar, caffeine, and salty foods also rank as good stress management tips for working parents. The challenge is to find time for such activities as working parents usually remain too busy with their many unavoidable commitments. Working parents need to pay due importance to such stress relievers and when faced with severe crunch times, need to consider a change in job or other life conditions to accommodate such activities rather than totally ignore these vital activities.
Take quality time regardless of the pressures of multi-tasking. Ways to do so include making it a point to have breakfast and dinner together with the family, setting aside one day of the weekend free for a family outing, or taking a day off from work on a birthday or anniversary of family members. It is also important to take time out to think and relax.
Finally, the huge workload notwithstanding, make sure to get enough sleep. Sound sleep is the one of the best stress relievers.
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Most work stress relief approaches are inherently reactive in nature and focus on ways to cope with stress after it occurs. A far more effective approach is the proactive approach of eliminating the possibility of stress. Ways to do so include redesigning work, making lifestyle and habit changes, and other initiatives. For instance, a working parent experiencing stress owing to severe crunch time in the morning would do well to change the habit of staying awake late at night and instead, wake up early.
Uncontrolled stress can cause serious disorders and impede the ability of a person to lead a normal life. Following effective stress management tips allows working parents and others to manage huge and conflicting demands without affecting mental health.
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“Stress Management." Retrieved from http://www.cls.utk.edu/pdf/ls/Week3_Lesson22.pdf on April 09, 2011.
Middlesex County College. Stress Management Tips." Retrieved from http://www2.middlesexcc.edu/services-and-support/counseling-services/stress-management.html on April 09, 2011.