“The only thing that is constant is change.”
As a family, staying “on the same page” is enough of a challenge, as you balance differing schedules and personalities. In addition, family stress level often increases during times of change – whether the change is minor or significant. Keep the family stress level low by staying on top of things with these five useful tips.
1. Be aware of changes that are occurring, or that will be occurring soon. Family stress often increases when there is a lack of awareness, such as when we become to singularly focused on one aspect of life and miss what is happening around us and within our family. Note that even a change that is positive or planned for will have an impact on your family, and the more you notice it and embrace it as a team, the more you will feel confident and connected in the face of what life brings.
2. Be aware of how family stress is impacting you. Family stress also increases when there is a lack of awareness of one’s self and one’s own response to stress. If you’re paying attention to your own needs, you’ll do better in your role as partner, parent, daughter, etc. Being humble about your own struggles and sharing them with your partner or a trusted adult will help you work together as a team.
3. Respect others reactions to change. One of the greatest contributors to family stress is a low level of empathy, or understanding of one another’s position. For example, this is part of the reason why there is a lot of stress with a teen in the house: 1. They are going through many changes and 2. They have not fully developed an ability to empathize, as part of their necessary development is being intently focused on themselves and forming a unique identity. You can’t control another family member’s willingness to be understanding, but you can be sure to practice and model empathy yourself.
4. Make sure that everyone’s voice is heard and everyone has an opportunity to be included. Each family member can have a job to do when it comes to supporting change that occurs – whether it’s a change as a whole family (like a new home) or a change for one person (like a child moving on to middle school), because these things will impact the family system as a whole. No one is more or less important than anyone else.
5. Debrief on significant things that occur between you (whether it is an argument or a moment of appreciation). There is no way to fully prevent family stress – and that’s ok. Tough experiences and emotions are part of what help us learn, and part of what connects us to each other. One of the best things that you can do for your family is process experiences, and offer a listening ear to each person’s feelings and perceptions. Just make sure that everyone involved is ready and open, not feeling pressured into a “family meeting.” That make take time and effort on your part, and will often require you to fully offer a listening ear before expressing your own view.
Approaching life changes mindfully and with a collaborative attitude will help your family maintain healthy communication. Family stress sometimes sneaks up on us and almost begins to feel “normal.” While there will always be potential for stress, don’t let your family fall into a rut.
Don’t hesitate to access help with understanding and utilizing these tips, so that you can best address your own unique family situation.
Contact me for a free phone consultation.