Let’s face it. Parenting teenagers can be stressful, so we asked experts to weigh in on what to do when parent stress levels go through the roof.
Stress Management For Parents
1. Self care is important.
It’s hard to deal with even minor stress when we’re tired or hungry or overwhelmed. So, self care is key when it comes to handling parent stress. This includes carving out time to recharge—whatever that means for you—as well as trying to eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly.
2. Tune into the now.
A lot of stress comes from worry. We worry about what happened yester or last week. And then we worry about what will happen later today or tomorrow (that deadline at work, your teenager’s math homework). Taking the time to pull your mind to the present can be a helpful way to reduce parent stress levels.
“When you are stressed, you are not really present,” explains Francoise Adan, medical director of the Connor Integrative Health Network at Cleveland’s University Hospitals. “You are thinking about the past, the future. You’re all over the place.”
3. Be more present.
Here are two easy exercises to make you feel more present:
- Scan your senses. “One easy technique is using your senses,” explains Adan. “What does this moment look like, taste like, sound like, smell like, feel like? You can use your senses to try to be in the present.”
- Try controlled breathing. Breathe in for four seconds, then exhale for six. “This helps you create a place where you are focused on your breath, rather than those obsessive thoughts,” says Adan.
If these exercises are helpful, you may also consider mindfulness meditation, which has been shown to help reduce stress. Try the apps Headspace or Breathe to get started.
4. Be proactive.
Try to take stock of what’s stressful about parenting your particular teenager. Anticipating that stress ahead of time can be a helpful way to make changes in your routines—or approach—that may lead to less stress down the line.
5. Find your tribe.
Sometimes, it’s other parents—and not our teenagers—who stress us out. “It’s helpful to find at least one down-to-earth, old fashioned friend, especially someone with an older child,” suggest Wendy Mogel, author of the The Blessing of a B Minus. “Don’t surround yourself with parents who have been curating their children’s lives since kindergarten to get them into an elite college.”
6. Say “No”.
One sure fire way to deal with stress management is to simply do less. If you’re overwhelmed by your teenager’s schedule, then it’s time to cut back on some extra curriculars. If you’re doing too much to for your teenager, then do less (no reason a 15-year-old can’t do laundry, right?). Evaluate invitations and other obligations carefully. Remember, you don’t have to accept every invitation you get. And that PTO fundraiser really can go on without you.