Stress Relief and Self-Care for Parents by Dr. Kelly Everson and Dr. Brandi Rials

Stress management is an important skill for all parents. These tips can help you learn to manage your stress and live a happier, more satisfying life. By developing your own stress management skills, you are modeling important lifeskills for your children. Children observe and reenact the stress relief methods they see their parents and other caretakers using. Using poor stress relief skills can mean that as your children grow they will not understand stress as a normal part of life and something that can motivate us to continue working hard; a certain level of stress is actually optimal for survival and success. When stress gets to a problematic level and begins to hold you back from your daily life, it’s time to make some changes.

There are some physical coping skills you can employ to handle stress in your everyday life. Mindful, deep breaths are the easiest and most effective stress relievers to date. Just like in yoga class, spend as much time inhaling as exhaling, and focus solely on the oxygen nourishing your body. Regular physical activity is equally important. Even if you only have a few minutes, some quick jumping jacks or crunches will relieve stress and release feel-good endorphins for the rest of your day. Finally, there are times we just need a time out. Sometimes a mom's best defense to a tantrumming toddler, screaming teen or other kid-induced stress is to walk away. First make sure there isn't anything harmful around your child, and then go to another room. Not only are you signaling that you don't respond to that kind of behavior, you're also stopping yourself from throwing a tantrum! Find the most quiet place you can, away from all TVs, music and whining. Lock yourself in your bathroom or in your parked car if you have to! And simply sit in the silence. The external quiet will bring internal peace and calm to your churning insides.

It’s imperative to make sure you care for your emotional health and well-being. Laughter's not just a result of happiness—doing it will make you happy. Its chemical: Laughing lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases beta endorphins, the mood enhancers that kick out depression. In addition, crying is not only emotionally renewing, some studies show that shedding tears may literally flush out stress hormones. So take a lesson from your toddler and toss out your stress.Finally, visual imagery really works in helping us deal with stressful situations, so go ahead and picture palm trees, clear waters and umbrella drinks whenever the need arises!

Palm Beach Behavioral Health and Wellness serves the emotional and behavioral needs of children, adolescents and families in the Jupiter area. Drs. Everson and Rials are Florida Licensed Psychologists who offer individual, group and family therapy, in addition to psychological and psycho-educational testing services. They can be reached at (561) 429-2397 and