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Stress in the Home and Family

Aug 21, 2007
Home and family life is an important facet of our experience, and can be as stressful as the workplace. Women who have taken time out from work to raise children and look after a home are just as prone to stress as busy male executives in the workplace.

While stress is both inevitable and endemic in our lives, it is important to ensure that excessive stress does not make us ill. Many people ignore the problem and unfortunately then face the possibility of medical conditions such as high blood pressure, or worse. So it is important to make an effort to monitor stress levels.

Here are several questions that can help to make an assessment of stress levels -

1 Do I feel that there are not enough hours in the day to do all the things which are expected of me?

Time management is of central importance in combating stress. As an aid to planning the best use of one's time, people often use lists of tasks and sort them by priorities. This may be useful for organising one's time and dealing with significant long term problems, but stress levels can be significantly reduced by the simple discipline of having a routine, or daily timetable.

This means that you organise each day around tasks which need to be done at a certain time. These routine tasks are regularly repeated and should not present problems. This leaves time for us to focus on more challenging activities. For example, food shopping and the washing and ironing of clothes are both routine and repetitive tasks. Some people will engage in these tasks every day, some will perform them every other day, while others may limit food shopping to two trips per week.

The task frequency is a matter for personal decisions, what is important is that these relatively simple tasks should become matters of routine. To further assist this routine, it is helpful to visit the same supermarket and become familiar with the store layout.

2 Am I constantly rushing from one task to another?

Many women structure their day at home around certain key events. These include raising the family out of bed, making them breakfast and getting them to work or school. During late afternoon, she will collect children from school, listen to their report of the day, make an evening meal and encourage the children to do their school homework.

These tasks, together with laundry and family shopping, become regular diary items during each day or on alternate days etc. Outside of these times, there are opportunities for relaxation, socialisation with friends, and time to ponder on decisions such as the choice of children's schools, holidays or a new car.

What is important is to have a structured approach to one's time, a daily routine, and a realistic appreciation of how long it takes to perform customary tasks. If we become proficient in organising our time, so that the daily tasks are covered with time to spare, we are then in a better position to deal with the unexpected and unwelcome difficulties which often confront us on a daily basis.

3 Is my self confidence or self esteem low ?

If this seems a rather silly question, then you are likely to be a fortunate person who has never had to deal with this. Many adults suffer from low self esteem.

In addition to their own inability to cope with the demands of life, this is often made worse by negative comments from their partner and even their children. Many women suffer from this condition, and some almost consider it as a fact of life. Such a philosophy is both wrong and dangerous. Low personal esteem can lead to clinical depression and other more serious medical conditions.

There are several ways to combat this. Firstly, one should try to manage one's time in a more efficient and productive way. Secondly, if one's partner is constantly negative, then the content of the criticism should be explored. If the partner is unwilling or unable to discuss this rationally, then there is likely to be a problem with the relationship.

A simple technique to increase self esteem, is to take a moment to ponder on one's achievements in life. Each of us can find something of which we can be rightly proud. This framework assists us to place the current problems within a framework, and renews our determination to cope and overcome challenges.

4 Am I regularly experiencing headaches, aches and pains, or if a woman, are menstrual cycles erratic ?

Stress literally wears us down and makes us ill. Before we rush off to the medical practitioner, it is advisable to see if we can modify our life style. In addition to time management, the two main things which can make a significant difference are exercise and relaxation.

Exercise can take many forms and does not need to include subscriptions to gymnasiums. Brisk walking rather than taking the car is beneficial, as is pushing a lawn mower around the garden. Performing household chores all day, although strenuous, does not count as exercise.

Relaxation, although quite different from exercise, is equally beneficial. Some people who have the opportunity for a short afternoon sleep, find this extremely refreshing. Relaxation can take the form of yoga, breathing disciplines, or simply finding a quiet hour to read a favourite book or magazine. Needless to say, if the physical symptoms worsen or persist, then it is advisable to seek medical help.
About the Author
Leslie Hardy is a writer on Property in Northern Cyprus
and the UK Chairman of Wellington Estates Ltd, a North Cyprus Property company.
He has written several articles about stress, including
Stress in the Workplace
His academic interests include Marketing Research, Database Architecture and Corporate Strategy.
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