How stressed has COVID parenting made you? A lot depends upon what extra stressors it brought to your home. Regardless of where you live, you are probably spending more time with your kids than ever before. You may be noticing areas where your kids desperately need your help and guidance. You may also be dealing with job changes or loss, illness and other family stressors.
If you are a Christian parent, the events in the world around us should be concerning you. We live in a world that has lost its moral compass and appears out of control in multiple ways. If your kids don’t build an unshakeable faith foundation, they will most likely end up becoming part of our secular world, rather than shining a light to draw others to God.
When stress builds up, we need to find healthy ways to release it. If we don’t, we can develop all sorts of mental and physical ailments. I vividly remember a college professor going through the stress point list and informing us we should start seeing our hair fall out in clumps from the stress we were experiencing. And those stress points were from “good” stress!
Often people choose unhealthy ways of dealing with stress. Usually these involve doing something we believe will help us forget the pain our stress creates. However drugs, alcohol, excessive eating and other similar behaviors usually only add to the stress our bodies are feeling and come with their own additional negative consequences.
So what are some healthy ways to get some stress relief when you are feeling particularly stressed about parenting your kids? Here are five of our favorites.
- Pray. Prayer is great for stress relief. God loves to listen to His children. He can handle our emotions and the thoughts we may be struggling with in our stress. Christians have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who can speak for you when your stress is so overwhelming you don’t even know what to pray. Although, you won’t hear God’s physical voice in reply, God can guide you using scripture, people and circumstances to see His answers to your questions.
- Read Psalms. If there is an emotion expressed to God, it is probably reflected in one of the Psalms. There is something comforting about reading the Psalms – especially those that reflect emotions similar to those you are experiencing – even if the cause of them is different.
- Phone/Text/Zoom Someone. Your best choice is often an experienced Christian parent who knows and loves you and your kids. It is even better if they have raised children to adulthood who are active, productive Christians. Barna studies have found there are definite similarities in parenting with parents who raise active, productive Christians. Learning what they did can save you a lot of time and heartbreak. No parent is perfect, but these parents have more helpful answers than most. If you can’t find that parent, find someone who has learned from their mistakes…these lessons can help you avoid the pitfalls that caused them trouble. If you don’t want advice, but just need someone to listen and be emotionally supportive, make that clear. Otherwise, expect to get lots of advice!
- Exercise. A long walk or run can relieve stress, curb anger and clear your mind. You can even combine it with praying. The fresh air can also clear the mind and give you healthy doses of vitamin D.
- Do Something Productive. One of the side effects of parenting stress is often a feeling of failure or frustration. You may be feeling you can’t do anything right or that you keep making the same mistakes. Learning or doing something productive can remind you that you are able to grow, learn and succeed. Don’t try something overly difficult. Cook a new fun dish or learn an easy craft. Keep a journal. Producing something can help center you – even if the results aren’t perfect.
Parenting stress waxes and wanes over time. Right now, your parenting stress may be extremely high, but it is very likely a year from now, you may feel a lot less stressed than you do now. Don’t let today make you despair about tomorrow. Avoid stress relievers that are harmful, because they will inevitably make most situations worse. Use godly, healthy stress relief strategies. Put your faith in God and keep that hope for the future bright.