Managing Stress For The Whole Family

Child AnxietyThese days, there is plenty of stress to go around.  It could be caused by academics, family issues, FCAT tests or an upcoming move — the list of possibilities is endless.  In fact, stress levels have reached a new high, say CHILL mental health professionals.  CHILL (Community Help & Intervention in Life’s Lessons) is a program funded by the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) that helps provide each of the schools in the Winter Park Consortium with a professional mental health counselor.  Find out more here.

Families in general are overwhelmed, according to Cindy Knight, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and CHILL counselor for Lake Sybelia Elementary School in Maitland. There is stress related to finances and job instability and other associated issues such as having to move, and it trickles into the whole family system.  Stress bounces between parents and kids and then the kids bring it to school.

So what can we do in order to eliminate some of these stressors?  We have come up with a list of 10 tools for managing stress provided by Mental Health America on its “live your life well” website at

  • Connect with others — you don’t have to cope with stress or other issues on your own.
  • Stay positive — change negative self-talk or keep a gratitude journal.
  • Get physically active — it can decrease stress, anger and tension, and offers a greater sense of well-being.
  • Help others — it can help you take your mind off your own worries and builds self-esteem.
  • Get enough sleep — this helps you recover from stresses of the day.
  • Create joy and satisfaction — add some fun and leisure time into your schedule.
  • Eat well — the right foods can fuel the brain and improve moods.
  • Take care of your spirit.
  • Deal better with hard times — find coping skills and shift your thinking.
  • Get professional help if you need it — it is OK to ask for help.

Being An Active Family

Play-M0211aitlandHealthy kids are active kids, and according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it is important for them to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.  But many times children don’t get that much physical activity at school leaving it up to parents to make sure they are active at home.  So, how do families become more active?  Healthy Kids Today had compiled three simple tips for how you can become a more active family.

Identify different types of fun physical activities

  • Try a variety of activities.  Every family is different.  Sit down with family members and make a list of activities you think might be fun for everyone.  This could include anything from jump rope, and dancing to gardening or even kick ball.

Lead by example

  • As a parent, it is important to model the behavior that you want to see your children exhibit.  After you identify the fun activities, take charge and make sure to schedule time to do them.  Also, incorporate being active into everyday life.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator or bike to your destination instead of driving.

Limit screen time

  • Determine an appropriate amount of screen time for your family.  Once you establish what works for you and your children, limit screen time to that amount.  Screen time includes watching TV, being on the computer, playing video games and mobile devices, such as tablets and phones.

Added together, these simple changes can make a big difference in family life and health.  Although it might be hard to fit 60 consecutive minutes of physical activity into the day, remember it is OK to tackle the goal in pieces.  If you can only get in a 30-minute walk after school, follow that up later in the day with another 30 minutes of activity.  It is up to parents to ensure their families are staying active.  Comment below and tells us how you plan to make your family more active.