Coping with Stress and Anxiety
Single parents often feel stressed and anxious as there is a lot of pressure to meet the demands of day to day life, however it is possible to reduce, cope and sometimes prevent the excess stress.
Caring for children on your own, looking after your home and maybe working as well, means that single parents often do as much as a couple and sometimes this can feel overwhelming. It is no surprise then that single parents can feel stressed out and anxious about the future.
Often we feel stressed and anxious when there is a change in our life, when we feel challenged or threatened and when we suffer a loss of personal control. Single parents are especially vulnerable to challenges and changes but there are ways that we can learn to cope with and manage the changes and challenges that we face. Symptoms of stress and anxiety include:
- Loss of objectivity
- Expecting the worst to happen
- Constant worrying
- Overreacting to unexpected problems
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Irritability, impatience
- Headaches or backaches
- Muscle tension and stiffness
- Nausea, dizziness
- Procrastination, neglecting responsibilities
How to Reduce, Prevent, and Cope with Stress
In the first instance it's good to avoid unnecessary stress. Not all stress can be avoided, but you can reduce the number of stressors by learning to say “No", avoiding people who stress you out and reducing your 'to do' list.
- Alter the situation. Figure out what you can do to avoid the problem in the future, this can involve changing the way you communicate and behave. Express your feelings instead of bottling them up, be more assertive and try to manage your time better.
- Accept the things you can’t change. If the source of stress is unavoidable try to accept what’s happening by not trying to control the uncontrollable, you can also try to look for the upside and manage your feelings by sharing them with a friend.
- Adapt to the stressor. If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude. Try reframing problems and looking at the big picture.
- Nurture yourself. Set aside relaxation time. Connect with others. Do something you enjoy every day and make time for leisure activities that bring you joy.
- Keep your sense of humour. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. Reduce caffeine and sugar, avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Try to get enough sleep.