How often do you rush away from work, spend your journey time Email headerworrying about the tasks you’ve left undone, and/or working out who has to be where when that afternoon and evening, and then start shouting instructions to all and sundry from the moment you open the front door?

The Health and Safety Executive’s definition of stress is, “the adverse reaction a person has to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed upon them”. In today’s hectic 24/7 culture you will be in the minority if you never experience stressful episodes at some point in your life. This coupled with the knowledge that the family life our children experience will have a large impact on how they learn to deal with situations, relationships and general day to day living, is why action may be necessary.

So here are some ideas to help get you through challenging times and restore your family’s equilibrium:

Learn to switch off after work
 Practice mindfulness/relaxation/deep breathing while you walk home from work or during the time it takes to get changed out of your work clothes.

 If walking home is not possible, think about ways you could make your journey home more relaxing so that you are in home mode when you walk through the door e.g. try an audio book or read something brought from home during your commute.

 Try to mentally note the physical, mental and emotional move from work or home and from employee to parent. This may be changing into more casual clothes or perhaps just swopping your shoes … or even just taking off your office socks!

Set some boundaries for family time
 Quality time is when you are physically and emotionally present with your child. If you find that your mind wanders back to thinking about work, try to counter it with some techniques for switching off see

 Arrange a set time during the week when your family is the priority and everyone feels special. Discuss this as a family; it could be a film night, playing a board game, having a special tea or something included within the bedtime routine.

 Ensure that during this time you totally focus on your family and don’t get distracted by answering calls or emails.

Try to eat together as a family
If possible, try to always have your meal around a table so that you can all catch up on each other’s day. If everyone can’t eat at the same time, try at least to have a snack or drink together at some point during the evening so that you have a little calm time together.

Think ahead!
There is nothing worse than having cross words in the morning and leaving for the day on poor speaking terms. Although it can be a chore in the evening when you’re feeling tired at the end of a busy day, getting organised for the following day the night before will take pressure off everyone in the morning. You could even encompass it into your switching off from work routine!

Take a short time to yourself every day
If you’re happy, this will be reflected in your attitude and will be passed on to your family. Perhaps there is an area in your life that you would like to work on to create some balance e.g. fitness/sport, hobbies, better quality sleep, or time with friends.

Share the chores
It is very tempting, for many reasons, just to do everything yourself. However, especially for the long term, it is important for everyone to be able to pitch in. You could even set a time aside when everyone carries out their assigned household chores together and then have some special family time once order’s restored and you all deserve a treat.

We’re all different
It may be obvious but we are all unique and will each handle a bad day differently, and that includes the younger members of a family. When thinking about managing stress, remember to take into account everyone’s needs.

In summary, take a few minutes every month to reflect on your personal life and, if you feel things are out of equilibrium, try a few tweaks to improve the quality of your life. As Brian Tracy said, “Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance”.

In Equilibrium was established in 1998 and provides in-company training courses to organisations throughout the UK. We specialise in practical training aimed at developing resilience, minimising the risk of stress and enhancing wellbeing within organisations. We design and deliver training courses for managers and employees that are based on empirical psychological evidence and common sense management principles. Our courses are delivered by engaging and experienced trainers who are specialists in their field. The courses always provide practical tools and resources delegates can use for on-going development.

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