We all experience stress in our lives from the time we’re born until we die. How we adjust to our stress, and the stress of others in our lives, makes a big difference.

 

This month we’ll look a stress on families. Stress plays out in families in a variety of ways. Parents, older relatives and friends may feel stress about growing older. The real and perceived threats to independence, finances, usefulness and health can be stressors on our loved ones.

Workers and employers often find family situations cause stress and worry in the workplace. Most folks can’t just turn off problems at home from following them to their place of employment. If it has to do with aging issues it’s usually around someone’s health, injuries, surgeries or loss of mental capacity. The stress of either being at work, or focusing while at work, can sometimes be difficult.

And let’s not forget the teenagers and young adults in our lives becoming more independent and successful as they grow older. The recent trend for many women and men in their late teens to early 30s is either finding the confidence, finances, or direction to leave the nest, or if they have left, to return due to a variety of reasons including financial problems (job loss, divorce, school loans, or general cost of living), drug and alcohol problems, or the need to save money. The stress of multi-generational living is a major concern for some families today.

Expectations of parents and children, no matter the age, can be varied and not discussed. Parents feel that it’s their home, their rules, and their children. The adult children feel they are “adults”, and no longer children and expect a certain degree of independence. They often believe they make the rules for themselves, and no longer do their parents. See where this is going? Maybe you’ve even experienced these situations?

With any of these scenarios conflicts often occur. We have to face these conflicts with our parents, children, significant others and co-workers throughout our lives. How we choose to engage with others can impact our health, our memory, moods and even our lifespan.

Joshua Gowin Ph.D writes in Psychology Today (April 6,2011)

“Conflict elicits stress, our self-defense mechanism against harmful elements in our world. Stress tells us one of two things: I’ve been hurt, or I’m about to be hurt. Naturally, we take the first thing seriously. If we’re hurt, our brain shifts into action mode. We release adrenaline within seconds and cortisol within minutes, causing us to become more impulsive. When a dog bites, who cares what canine experts recommend, any action will do so long as it gets his incisors out of your thigh.

The second situation, when we have that sick feeling that something bad is about to happen, also activates our stress response, preparing us for action. We experience this anticipative stress in most long-term conflicts with peers; we worry about some harmful outcome that might happen—or not. The problem is that the worry itself can harm you as much as the outcome you’re worried about. While you’re stressing over what might happen, your body is releasing adrenaline and cortisol as if you were actually in danger. These hormones, while adaptive in short bursts when you must act, can be harmful if they’re released chronically. Your body and brain remain on hyper-alert status; you’re always running, even if nothing’s chasing you.”

Instead of allowing your conflict and stress to overwhelm you, why not sit down and talk things through, gain an understanding of the situation and individuals, and work to find solutions that benefit everyone? AgeQuake™ and Family Conversations™ can help coordinate family meetings to help prepare youth for taking on adult roles, parents and adult children navigating the tricky lives of living together under the same roof and workplace issues.  Call us for a free consultation at 952 884-1128.


Tips

Q.  “Our adult children want to live with us under their rules. It’s causing problems for life at home and life at work. Something’s got to give. There’s too much tension at home, and my work is suffering. How can we work to reduce these conflicts and stress?”

A.  Expectations may differ, and often aren’t even discussed.  Sitting down together and discussing the situation is a first step.  Listening is the second, and most important part of the conversation. Listening to understand.  Everyone’s goals are probably similar: to reduce stress, have fewer conflicts, communicate more effectively, and just get along.  Having a neutral person facilitate the meeting can go a long way to discovering ways to bring more harmony to your unique situation. Everyone’s situation is unique because the individuals and their connections are unique.

Questions to ask yourself: 

  • What are the conflicts and stress about – money, time commitments, privacy, appreciation – and how do I know this?
  • What do I want from my child, or what do I want from my parent, relative or worker? What do they want from me?
  • How have I tried to discuss this, and do I understand the other person? I don’t have to agree, just understand where they’re coming from.
  • What can I do to relieve some stress for myself, and for the other person?

 

Helpful Tips: If it is too stressful to talk about the topics, or when you try to talk with each other the arguments just escalate, try writing a letter to the other person(s). No blame, no anger, just something that shows you want to find a way to understand each other’s point of view and work together.  Think about having a neutral person work with you to give you feedback about what might be helpful for your situation.

 

De-stressing in the woods.

In 1982 the Japanese coined the term Shinrin-yoku, and it can be defined as ‘making contact with and taking in the atmosphere of the forest’. Since 1982, research has been streaming in on the health benefits of ‘going for a slow walk in the forest’. From a perspective of resiliency, Shinrin-yoku may be the answer of how best to meet our new technology’s demands on our natural human terms.

A State-of-the-Art Review on Shinrin- Yoku, published in July 2017, concludes that

“Nature therapy as a health-promotion method and potential universal health model is implicated for the reduction of reported modern-day “stress-state” and “technostress.”.

  1. Amos Clifford, the founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT), is taking Shinrin yoku or “Forest Bathing” to a new level. The Association was founded by M. Amos Clifford in 2012. Amos combined descriptions of Shinrin-Yoku practice in Japan with his four decades of experience in wilderness guiding, Zen meditation, psychotherapy, restorative justice and nature connection to begin creating a framework for Forest Therapy.

With a highly rigorous program, ANFT is in the process of training and certifying Forest Therapy Guides around the world. These programs are just one way to help restore yourself and reduce stress. In Minnesota, there are already some Forest Therapy Guides. http://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/forest-bathing-minnesota/

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