Few Americans are more time-strapped than parents. From the moment the alarm chimes, it can feel like a race to get through the day. From prepping for school or day care, to finalizing school projects and running to after-school activities, there’s hardly a moment to spare! And with career demands, the stress of being a busy parent can really set in and negatively affect the body in many ways.
Luckily, some simple tips can help you reduce stress and feel your very best while being a good mom or dad to your family. Dr. Keri Marshall, a licensed naturopathic doctor who specializes in pediatrics, women’s medicine and chronic disease management, understands the high demands of modern parenting. She offers some important tips that all parents should consider to help reduce stress and improve overall health and well-being.
1. Time management
“Time management is key for reducing stress and helping busy parents keep their sanity. The problem is that time management is a skill that must be learned, not something we’re born with,” says Marshall. “Staying organized can help you achieve all your goals.”
Whether it’s a traditional calendar on the wall, making lists, or a new smartphone app, organize your week and share your schedule with all family members. Remember to manage priorities — you may have to push grocery shopping a day or two in order to make a child’s band concert or big game. “Also, be sure to schedule breaks throughout the day,” reminds Marshall. “Just five or 10 minutes here and there can give you the pause you need to stay calm and collected.”
2. Nourish your body
What you put into your body makes a huge difference in how you feel. Some foods can even help reduce stress and boost your immunity so you don’t wind up sick, something busy parents simply don’t have time for.
“Being stressed causes the body’s cortisol levels to rise,” explains Marshall. “This stress hormone can cause you to crave unhealthy foods, so resist temptation and eat foods that help calm the body and balance hormones and blood sugar. Foods high in vitamin C, like berries and other bright-colored fruit, are great for boosting the immune system and balancing cortisol levels.”
Another simple thing you can do every day to help reduce stress and stay healthy is to take a fish oil supplement. “With a number of different benefits, fish oil provides essential omega-3 fatty acids that can improve heart, joint and brain health, plus increase immunity. I prefer high-quality fish oil supplements from Nordic Naturals because they are great tasting,” says Marshall. “Another unique benefit of fish oil is it can help to boost mood as well. A growing body of research has demonstrated that omega-3s can help promote a positive mood and well-being, which is critically important for people battling stress.”
3. Prioritize sleep
“Physical stress can make it difficult to sleep. People stay up later trying to get things done, and then when they do go to bed, they have trouble turning their brain off at the end of the day,” says Marshall.
Keep in mind, quality sleep each night can help keep your body healthy and increase your productivity levels at work and at home. By making sleep a priority, you’ll help ensure that you make the most of every hour in every day. While the National Sleep Foundation notes that the amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, generally seven to nine hours is considered optimal to maintain health.
4. Share the workload
You know the adage: It takes a village to raise a child? Well, today’s parents are busier than ever, and often they think they need to do it all themselves. Leaning on friends and relatives to help out when needed can dramatically reduce your stress. Plus, it can be a fun change of pace for kids.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” says Marshall. “Raising children is one of life’s greatest adventures, but no one can do it all. There’s no shame in asking Grandma to run the kids to soccer or having a friend watch the kids for a few hours because you have a work deadline. Plus, it is great bonding time for your children and the loved ones in their life.