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Stopping stress in its tracks

We all feel stressed at times, and at Figtree we understand that family life is a constant juggling act. School commitments, extracurricular activities, work, finances, friends – keeping on top of everything can take its toll. So this month, we’re sharing our top tips for staying on top of stress, and maintaining a happy, healthy home life.

 

Mindfulness and meditation

We know there’s never enough time in the day, but just taking a moment to breathe is really important. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, or as a two-minute break at work, try to spend a little time every day being present, and focusing on your body and your breathing.

Mindfulness has been proven to reduce anxiety, and there are now numerous apps and programs to help you build gentle meditation into your daily routine. But even without the technology, simply sitting still and emptying your mind is a great way to keep stress at bay.

 

Treat mind and body

Just as stress impacts our emotional and physical states, managing stress effectively demands a holistic approach too. Look at your diet and your sleeping habits – eliminating processed foods and excess sugar, making sure you’re drinking enough water and getting enough sleep are all vital ways you can help your body beat stress. Try eating your last meal of the day earlier in the evening, and avoid caffeine if you can.

Exercise is critical too. Of course, with an already packed day, we know it’s easier said than done. But exercise doesn’t have to mean a two-hour session in the gym –getting your heart rate up for just 20 minutes a day will help release those much-needed, feel-good hormones. If you commute to work, try getting off one stop earlier and walking the rest of the way. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Or take the family out for a short walk before supper. Your body – and your brain – will thank you for it.

 

Get organised

As our lives get busier, effective time management is critical to keeping on top of everything. There are plenty of online organisers you can use, but simply prioritising tasks and working through them in order will make a huge difference to your sense of control.

This is a great skill to share with your children too. Teaching them how to break tasks down into manageable pieces, and set their own realistic routine, will help stop your child feeling overwhelmed when their workload ramps up.

 

Embrace downtime

Parents often feel the need to fill their children’s days with stimulating activities, and this in itself can create more stress. Remember that you don’t need to schedule for every minute – in fact, it’s just as important for children to learn how to be ‘bored’. Finding ways to amuse themselves helps to boost resourcefulness and creativity – and gives you a break from the constant taxi journeys and endless balancing acts.

And when you are working hard, don’t forget to take a break. The same goes for children – aim for a 20-minute break every hour or so, to keep motivation and concentration levels up.

 

Don’t struggle alone

Stress affects all of us at some point in our lives, and no matter how much you try to suppress it, those around you will inevitably pick up on your feelings. The best thing you can do – particularly for your children – is to talk openly and honestly about stress, in an age-appropriate way. The idea is not to share every detail, but to explain that stress is normal and to role model ways to tackle it.

Talk to friends and family too. And don’t be afraid to seek expert help if you need it – while some degree of stress may be inevitable, letting it get out of hand can be really damaging to your wellbeing, so don’t suffer in silence. Because when it comes to feeling stressed, you are most certainly not on your own.

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