Healthy Ways Parents Can Cope Stress & Anxiety: Hear from the Experts
By: Alyssa Mendez
Stress and anxiety levels are at an all-time high for parents during this tumultuous time in our world. That’s why we’ve teamed up with local mental health leaders during this National Stress Awareness Month to provide parents with practical ways to cope with the pressures of life. May these tips empower you to confidently live out your God-given calling and be the positive example your child needs.
Welcoming a child into the world is perhaps one of the most exhilarating moments in a parent’s life. Suddenly your world is turned upside down, but in the best way possible. Psalm 127 states that children are a gift from the Lord, and we see in Jesus’s ministry that He has a special place in His heart for children and their unadulterated faith (Matthew 19:13-15).
Even Jesus wasn’t immune from life’s pressures and stressors during his time here on earth.
Parenting is a tremendous blessing, but that responsibility coupled with others on our plate can be met with stress-inducing challenges because of the fallen world we live in. Even Jesus wasn’t immune from life’s pressures and stressors during his time here on earth.
In the Garden of Gethsemane just before being betrayed by Judas, He felt so much anguish that he began to sweat blood — an extremely rare condition we now know as hematohidrosis, which occurs under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress (Biswas, Surana, De, & Nag, 2013 ). There’s probably no greater stress than knowing you’re just hours away from drinking the cup of suffering and enduring an excruciating death.
And while our daily stresses may not compare to Jesus’ in that moment, they are still valid. Wearing multiple hats and responding to life’s unexpected circumstances as you strive to raise your child(ren) to love, know, and honor God can feel like a lot of pressure at times. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic and our country’s political/social unrest have served as significant sources of stress for many this past year.
More than 80% of U.S. adults reported emotions associated with prolonged stress.
According to the American Psychological Association (2021), more than 80% of U.S. adults reported emotions associated with prolonged stress. Remaining in this unhealthy, high-stress state raises levels of your body’s primary stress hormone — cortisol — which can express itself in the form of debilitating mental and physical health symptoms (Cassoobhoy, 2020).
The negative effects of stress can spill on over from a parent to a child as well.
The negative effects of stress can spill on over from a parent to a child as well. Being the absorbent sponges that they are, research has indicated that children who are on the receiving end of their parents’ high stress levels are more likely to experience developmental delays and behavioral problems (Neece, Green, & Baker, 2012).
Bottom line: too much stress = not good.
Because April is National Stress Awareness Month, we wanted you to hear from a few mental health leaders in our community on ways they personally cope with stress and anxiety. May these healthy, practical tips empower you to be the best version of yourself so you can confidently live out God’s calling for your life and be the positive role model that your child needs.
A great step in helping yourself deal with anxiety is to learn your body cues. So often we miss our body’s stress signals until it’s too late and we’re in full-blown panic. Some of the common body cues are: clenching your jaw when sleeping, lack of sleep, jitters, and tightness in your chest. Figure out what your anxious body cue is. When you catch it early, it’s so much easier to manage with grounding techniques, exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, or simply talking to a trusted person. Also, get into a normal sleep routine. Normal sleep patterns are so important for maintaining the best mental health and mood!
Some techniques I have found helpful are deep breathing exercises, meditation on God's Word, and prayer. Exercise is a powerful antidepressant, as it boosts the chemicals in the brain that medications work on for depression.
Reframing any negative thoughts can also be helpful; this is a tool that a trained therapist can teach someone to reduce distress/anxious or depressive thoughts.
Some techniques I recommend are proper deep breathing exercises, stretching, imagery exercises, and collecting some relevant Bible verses and having them ready to read for when anxiety comes. Here are some verses that can encourage you during stressful situations:
The next time you find yourself overwhelmed, remember that the Lord is strong enough to carry every kind of burden and longs to be your first resort. But also remember that He can use the tools and techniques recommended above as well as people in our lives to bring about relief.
Teaching our children that it’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help when those needs arise can be one of the most life-giving lessons you’ll ever share with them.
Seeking out biblical counseling and a community of believers can support you on your mental health and parenting journey by pointing you back to spiritual truths. CCA’s Mrs. Talpesh leaves you with these words of encouragement as you continue to invest in your mental health and lead your child(ren) in this area as well:
“We need to teach our children that it’s possible to feel our feelings without getting stuck in them and that we can overcome struggles just as we would overcome a physical illness like a cold. Mental health is a fluctuating continuum. There might be seasons when we need to care more for our mental health, and teaching our children that it’s okay to be vulnerable and ask for help when those needs arise can be one of the most life-giving lessons you’ll ever share with them.”
Mornings no longer have to be a frenzy in your household! CCA’s Early Childhood Director, Jan Lashbrook, shares a tried and true method that will surely bring fun, structure, and peace into your little one’s morning routine.
We all want what’s best for our kids, but taking the proper steps to get them there can be difficult. CCA High School Bible Teacher, Mr. Gavin Felix, shares five principles from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 that will help you build a foundation that encourages your child(ren) to emulate Jesus Christ.