The back-to-school grind can sometimes cause undue stress for parents. Carpools, sports schedules, new teachers, deadlines, demanding routines– school time equates to hectic schedules and overloaded calendars for many families. And when our lives feel out of balance, stress creeps in.
What we feel stressed, hormones flood your body. Perhaps you’ve felt the symptoms: your heart pounds, your breathing speeds up, and your muscles become tense. This “stress response” is a normal reaction to overwhelming situations. In fact, it once helped our ancestors survive threats like natural disasters or animal attacks. In our day of age, we rarely face these extreme physical dangers, but challenging situations like the start of a new school year can still set off this same stress response.
While it’s impossible to avoid all sources of stress in our lives, you can develop a healthier response to stress by developing a few coping strategies.
Pay Attention to How your Body Responds to Stress
For those prone to headaches, excessive stress can lead to pain. Stress is a helpful response in short doses, but ongoing stress even at low levels can hurt our physical and emotional health. Know how your body reacts when the pressure is on– you might find yourself more sensitive to common headache triggers:
- Irregular sleep-wake patterns
- Eating on the run or skipping meals
- Medications, including oral contraceptives
- Sensory stimuli– bright lights, loud sounds, strong smells like perfume or paint thinner, and secondhand smoke
- Unusually intense exercise or physical activity
- Sudden weather changes
- Hormonal fluctuations
Organize your Space
Your mind has a better chance of staying clear and calm when your living space is clear and calm, too. Consider developing an organizational system for your family, so everyone can help keep common areas tidy. For instance, notes from teachers are placed on the refrigerator; shoes stay by the front door; backpacks belong in bedrooms. During those fast-paced mornings and busy evenings, you’ll be glad everything in your home has a place.
Although it’s unlikely everything will be organized and put away at all times (and that’s okay!), your children will know where things belong. They’ll only need a gentle reminder from you, which helps create a less-stressful environment for everyone.
Routines (or even a rough outline of an ideal routine) just make life simpler and less stressful. You and your children won’t need to think about what’s going to happen next in the morning, after school, or before bed, because there’s already an established pattern.
Your stress levels will drop as your children enjoy a feeling of safety and security because they’ll know what to expect. Maybe they’ll be allowed to play in the morning once they’re completely ready for school, or they can choose a snack once they’ve put their toys away. Customize your routine to meet the needs of your family.
Prioritize Relaxation and Self-Care
Effective relaxation techniques will vary widely from person to person, but there are some popular methods you might help you, too. Even if you only have five minutes to spare, little breaks can bring big relief. Some of our favorites:
- Focused breathing. Close your eyes and take long, slow, deep breaths. As you breathe, try to mentally disengage from distracting thoughts or activity around you.
- Mindfulness meditation. Think of this as one step beyond focused breathing. Sit comfortably, focus on your breathing, and bring your attention to the present moment. This form of meditation may be especially helpful for people with anxiety, depression, and pain.
- Massage. Often used as a treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations, massage reduces stress, pain, and muscle tension.
- Chiropractic adjustments. Relax as gentle pressure is applied to key parts of your spine and your joints, melting away your stress. You’ll feel more at ease right away, and, the positive effects of regular adjustments build on one another over time. Schedule an appointment online – this is our specialty!
Just Say No
We’re all human and we all need rest. As a parent, you alone can recognize when everyone is simply tired and needs a break. Prioritize your activities and when new requests emerge, give yourself permission to turn them down. Always remember that it’s okay to take a break– you and your family have earned it.
Take time for you– chiropractic self-care is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and family balance. Schedule an appointment online or call our office at (423) 380-1155 now.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.