Single parents often experience inordinate amounts of stress that usually stem from several sources, according to HealthyChildren.org. They might be the sole financial providers or caregivers for their children and need to juggle multiple tasks. And they often have no one with whom they can share additional responsibilities or make decisions. But you don't have to deal with endless levels of stress. By practicing simple stress management techniques, you can alleviate excess stress, relax and make your life a bit easier.
At the end of a long, draining day, playing with your kids might be the last thing on your mind. But a 2012 study by a group of three Kansas State University researchers found that single mothers experience less stress when they play with their children and participate in daily activities like reading. The study solely examined the effects of these activities on single mothers, but may be logically extrapolated to apply to single fathers as well. Set aside time to spend with your kids on a daily basis. Try to select activities that you'll all enjoy. You might want to ask your kids for input as to how they might like to spend an evening with you.
Have a Life
Being a single parent doesn't mean that you can't have a life outside of your family. According to HealthyChildren.org, single parents can help alleviate stress by spending time away from their children -- alone or with friends. For some, socialization is a helpful stress management technique, while others prefer to spend time alone engaging in an enjoyable activity. If possible, hire a babysitter or let the kids spend some time with other family members for an evening. Go see a movie, get a massage or go for a long drive while listening to your favorite music. Even if it's just for a little while, time away from your kids can help you recharge your batteries and make you a more effective, less stressed parent in the long run.
Manage Your Finances
Managing finances is stressful for almost everyone. Even just thinking about money-related issues can invoke a stress reaction. It can be very difficult, if not impossible, to handle financial concerns when your kids are demanding attention and you don't have anyone to take over while you balance the books and pay bills. But according to HealthyChildren.org, learning to effectively manage finances is one of the most important steps single parents can take to help reduce stress. Create a realistic budget and discuss it with your kids, suggests certified financial planner Samantha Fraelich in an interview with "Financial Advisor" magazine. If necessary, enlist the help of a friend or relative who is knowledgeable about finances, or consult a financial adviser if possible.
It sounds simple, but remembering to breathe consciously and deeply during times of stress can help lower your stress levels, calm and relax you and help you obtain a healthier perspective. Deep breathing is a relaxation and stress management technique that you can use practically anywhere, at any time you can remember to focus on your breath. Sit or stand in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Just pay attention to your breathing patterns for a few moments. Then take a long, slow inhalation through your nose. Pause for a moment, then exhale all of the air from your lungs through your mouth. Contract your abdominal muscles slightly at the end of the exhalation to help expel all of the last bits of air. Practice this exercise for several moments until you feel calmer and more relaxed.
- HealthyChildren.org: Stresses of Single Parenting
- Kansas State University: News and Editorial Services: The Power of Playtime: Study Finds That Single Mothers Can Reduce Stress by Playing, Engaging with Children
- Financial Advisor: Planner Offers Advice for Single Parents
- Raising Children Network: Parenting After Separation: Breathing for Relaxation
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