Feeling exhausted after a long day at work, and then having to deal with your family’s demands can certainly add to your increased level of stress. When we look at how stress is prevalent in so many people today, it is clear that a lot of this stress arises from workplace challenges. It is definitely an important point to address if you are not coping with the demands of both work and family life.
Therefore, today, I will tackle a parent’s work stress in order for your family life to become calmer. First though, you need to understand your different stress triggers, and this is best done through an analytical process.
When considering a parent’s stress at work, we understand that people’s challenges can be ‘technical’ i.e. related to the actual skills required to do a job or ‘interpersonal’ i.e. related to the way you approach and react to the people with whom you come into contact. If either of these are out of balance, they can easily trigger a stress response.
In fact, both types of challenges can feel like they take ‘everything you’ve got’ just to get through the day. The general consensus is to use therapeutic techniques to help reduce your negative stress response. The more resources you have to hand, the better equipped you are to deal with demands at work.
The good news is that those new coping strategies can easily be transferred and used in a home situation as well. To avoid feeling additional pressure, it is advised to tackle one area of stress first. By setting a series of step goals, you will feel less overwhelmed, and it will provide you with the motivation to continue by gaining control over your negative thinking. With every success you will notice a positive change in your attitude, response and behaviour.
Within my practice I see three recurring themes among parents almost regardless of the specific area they seek help for. These areas are related to a lack of confidence, increased anxiety and neglected communication.
Confidence: The use of therapeutic techniques to increase confidence can be the single most significant factor in boosting your well-being at work (and at home). Coming into the workplace with your head held high, confident that you have the skills to tackle whatever the day will throw at you brings newfound respect from your colleges and reduces the stress that you might have been feeling. Therapy can help by reinforcing your belief in yourself and your abilities which will provide a renewed sense of purpose and confidence.
Anxiety: A workday typically involves lots of different tasks, some of which are planned and some of which pop up and require you to react to them. Trying to prioritise tasks, and switch between them, particularly if they each have their own time constraints can increase the levels of stress you are under. In such situations it is easy to fall into negative thinking patterns which have a consequent impact on your performance and the way in which you perceive yourself and your job. Again, using therapeutic techniques can help you deal with these negative thoughts and feelings and, while the job may not change, your attitude to it will and your stress levels will become manageable.
Communication: This is fundamental to almost any job (lighthouse keeper is a possible exception)! The way in which you communicate and interact with people, colleagues, customers etc. can have a significant effect on the way you are perceived and how effective you are at delivering your message. Discovering communication methods from NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), which consists of a set of powerful techniques for rapid and effective communication, you will be able to identify what outcome you want to achieve. Also, you can gain an understanding of whether you are moving towards or away from your outcome. You can learn how to be flexible to change what you are doing or indeed how you are communicating. In this way, you can vary your approach until you reach a suitable outcome.
Clearly, defining what you want to achieve is fundamental to the process yet it is the one element that is typically missed by people as we tend to drift into situations without thinking ahead. If you are stressed out, and the stress is affecting you as a parent as well as an employee, then take action now. There is no point in delaying a change to your behaviour if you are not achieving an outcome that is beneficial to either you or your family.
By Tina Elven
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