Gone are the days that all you have to worry about is yourself and when your next meal is.
By this time in our lives, we're trying to keep spouses, children and maybe even extended family members happy and healthy.
As our families expand, so does our risk of family stress.
Family stress can interfere with happy vacation plans, cause unnecessary spats and even keep your kids from focusing in school.
It's important to identify the sources of friction in your home so you can address family stress before it takes a negative toll.
Read on to learn the causes and signs of family stress and methods that will help you cope with it.
After all, as the head of your household, it's your duty to ensure that your family is cared for– physically and emotionally.
Causes of Family Stress
There are many different circumstances that can cause family stress, but most can be divided into internal or external causes.
Internal causes of family stress would be struggling with addiction, anger management, depression, or caring for children with physical or mental disabilities.
Any issues that arise from family members themselves is an internal cause of family stress.
On the other hand, external causes of family stress like financial strain, loss of a job, moving to a new state, economic downturns or natural disasters.
Anything that is outside of your family dynamic that is taking a toll on you, your spouse or your kids is an external cause of family stress.
Unfortunately, both internal and external causes of family stress are equally as challenging to combat.
Internal causes of family stress are often difficult habits to break.
Whereas external causes of family stress can sometimes be unavoidable circumstances.
If you have been noticing your family fighting more or overcome with stress, the best thing you can do is work with your spouse to identify a list of key stressors that may be the root cause.
Then, you can work to find solutions for each issue.
Signs of Family Stress
Except for excessive bickering, the signs of family stress can be hard to spot.
Be vigilant of these common signs of family stress that may indicate that something is wrong.
You may be sleeping poorly. Sleep can be one of the first things to go when people are stressed. The unfortunate side effect is that the less sleep you get, the crankier and more stressed you become. Try integrating a “lights out” policy for the whole household. Creating a routine around bedtime is a good way to ensure you and your kids get the sleep you need.
Your kids are shutting you out. Many times, children do not know or understand the best ways for them to decompress. When kids are stressed, sometimes they shut everyone else out in an effort to gain control. Try to keep the conversation flowing with your kids to make sure that they know you are there to talk their issues out with.
Everyone's getting sick. Stress takes a toll on your immune system. When you're worried about other things, you're likely not sleeping or eating well. In addition to your immune system being down, it's the perfect time for you to fall physically ill. Make sure that everyone is eating properly and washing hands regularly.
Your kids' school or your work performance is suffering. After a uniquely stressful week, you may botch a work presentation and your kids might tank their school tests. Stress can impair your concentration and attention to detail. Try to plan ahead for school and work events by planning out sleep and study time.
These four signs are the major ones to look out for if you suspect your family is stressed.
However, every family is different and may display stress in countless other ways. If anyone is acting out of the ordinary, stress may be the underlying cause.
Coping With Family Stress
If you've identified signs that your family is stressed, now is the time to address it.
If ignored, stress has a way of getting worse and damaging other parts of our lives.
While it can be difficult to take the step and identify that there's a problem, it's important that you set the example for your whole family.
Take a step back. The first thing you should do if your family is stressed is to evaluate your life as a whole. Take stock of the good and the bad, with the mentality that in order for your family to move forward, something will need to change.
Talk to someone. You may need to step outside of your family unit and talk to another relative, close friend or therapist in order to determine the root cause(s) of your family's stress. Many times, there are several sources. Your confidant should be someone who can keep your concerns confidential and help you map out a path forward.
Have a family meeting. Whenever big changes are happening with your family, it's important to keep everyone in the loop. Feeling like they have a say and understand what's happening helps children process change. It also promotes an open dialogue with everyone to share their concerns.
Make incremental changes. Even if you talk about it first, change can be hard to swallow. Focus on one type of stressor first and try to address it fully before moving onto another. Be honest about the time it may take for your spouse and kids to see change.
In the midst of it all, you must remember to stay positive.
By simply reading this blog, you are making an effort to improve your family life. Every household has issues that you never see. Remember that while change may come slowly, that is better than never at all.
A Community Ready to Help
Here at the Fit Father Project, we have met and mentored countless fathers who have all had their own struggles.
We know that fatherhood comes with an immense amount of pressure.
But when it comes to supporting each other to keep going, we've found no better place than our Fit Father for Life group.
Having access to all of our higher level programming has taken our fathers to new personal heights.
And while the program focuses on you, it's building a more confident, stress-free, healthy version of you.
This is the you who will be able to guide your family through times of stress.
So check out our FF4L offerings to learn more about the all-access program.
Your friend in health,
Dr. Anthony Balduzzi
Founder, The Fit Father Project
Brotherhood Nickname: “Mr. Results”
Bragging Rights: Has helped over 35,000 fathers lose fat, build muscle, & get healthy for their families
P.S. If you haven't seen my FREE 1-Day Meal Plan for Men over 40, I highly recommend you click here to get a free copy sent directly to your email. Remember: nutrition is a core foundation of weight loss for men over 40.
Small note about research cited in this article:
*Always remember: weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual. Just because these studies cite certain data does not mean you will experience these results. Always consult with your doctor before making decisions about your health. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info.