Parents are not superhuman by any means (though it may seem like that sometimes!). Stress can take a very real toll over time, and not just to you as an individual but to the wider family. In fact, the latest studies have shown how fathers who aren’t managing stress can pass on their stress to their children.
Getting that much-needed breathing room is never easy, but as it’s a new year, we’ve uncovered 7 different ways that dads can start making a difference when it comes to stress-management.
1. Exercise routines: It’s all about the specifics
A “hit the gym” mantra is useless if you do not have a specific plan in mind. Are you looking to reduce body fat, to build muscle, or simply blow off steam?
Try to create a routine based around your unique goals. Assuming that you are looking to mitigate the effects of stress, research has shown that highly intensive cardio sessions will allow your body to produce endorphins. These are the “feel-good” hormones that can positively affect your mood and even lower blood pressure.
2. Create your own man cave
A man cave can represent your home away from home. This type of sanctuary is often used to unwind after a long day at work, to enjoy your favourite hobbies or to watch a game of football with a few friends.
You’re free to choose the type of decor which suits your personality and never be afraid to experiment. A man cave is great for anyone who is looking to get away from it all for a short period of time.
3. A night out on the town
There is nothing wrong with blowing off a bit of steam (if done in moderation). Simply because you have children does not preclude you from experiencing a night out on the town with close friends (or even new ones!).
These nights always help to put life into perspective and provide you with a useful outlet to relieve any stress that many have accumulated during the week. Just be sure to leave the car keys at home and to take a taxi!
4. Solo Sports to melt the stress away
Some sports are particularly known for their ability to literally melt the stress away. This is particularly relevant for activities that do not necessarily have to involve a team setting. For example, there is nothing better than hitting the golf greens early in the morning and playing an 18-hole course. Not only will you be able to absorb the ambient surroundings, but the silence associated with a typical course is quite unique to the game itself. Don’t forget that golf gloves will protect you whilst playing too.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with joining a couple of friends along the way if you choose. We should also mention that solo sports are somewhat meditative in nature, as they will often require a great deal of attention and focus.
5. Getting the right amount of sleep
This one we all know about, but too many don’t pay attention to it regularly.
Not getting an adequate amount of sleep on a regular basis will negatively impact your overall health and emotional state. In fact, it has also been shown that insufficient sleep can lead to several serious conditions such as:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart disease
Unfortunately, the impact upon our stress levels is just as profound. This is why the majority of experts recommend receiving between seven and nine hours of uninterrupted rest every night. If you find it difficult to fall asleep, try reading or meditating before turning in. Eliminate caffeine after eight o’clock in the evening and avoid alcohol.
6. Spend some quality time with the kids
Many of the online articles which deal with parental stress relief automatically assume that this involves spending time away from the family. On the contrary, this can be somewhat counterproductive. What good is spending time performing an enjoyable activity if you feel guilty for not being around the family? So perhaps it’s not so much time apart, but more that time with the kids needs a revamp.
Some great ideas include (but not limited to):
- Heading out to the cinema.
- Taking a short holiday abroad.
- Attending a live sports event together.
- Registering for an arts and crafts class.
Try to think outside of the box and obtain input from your children so that a joint decision can be made.
7. Know when to ask for help
Managing stress is no easy task; particularly due to the fact that it can often remain unnoticed until problems begin to arise. Be sure to look out for these telltale signs that a change is needed:
- Feelings of malaise, anxiety or depression
- The inability to enjoy activities that were once fun
- Feelings of emotional distance or problems at home
- A lack of focus at work
- An overall sensation that life seems to be spinning out of control
Know when enough is enough. It makes little sense to keep pushing forward if you are only destined to slide back. This is why taking a break on occasion is critical in terms of both mental and physical health. Above all, never be afraid to discuss such feelings with friends or family members. You will be surprised by how much help they can provide.
The bottom line is that you must take action sooner as opposed to later when it comes to managing stress. Not only will stress make your life miserable, but it has been shown that chronic stress is directly linked to early deaths in otherwise healthy adults. If you want to be around for your child’s future, and the daunting statistics around early deaths should never be taken lightly. Feel free to refer back to this article for inspiration in the future – it matters for you and your children!