Six Ways to Better Manage Stress

(Spoiler: #6 is the best)

As we watch our kids grow, we know all too well that stress is an inevitable part of their lives. After all, we feel stress daily and see how it affects our own well-being and family dynamics. And one of our greatest stressors is realizing that our kids are also stressed. They feel it everywhere - from the normal growing pains of getting older to everyday pressures from school, friends, and life. Let’s not forget the immense stressors sparked by world events and social media. 

With this impossibly large list, it’s important to recognize the signs of stress and learn how to best help our kids cope. We can start by keeping an open line of communication with our kids and the people (friends, doctors, teachers, coaches, etc.) in their lives. Plus, there are many stress management resources, such as this piece by The American Psychological Association which shows how to recognize signs of stress and help our kids cope.

Ironically, sometimes the more resources we have, the more stressed out we get, which feels very…stressful. 

Let’s take a look at how we can conquer stress in the least complicated ways:

  1. Sleep. The importance of good sleep cannot be underrated. Sleep is crucial for our physical and emotional well-being, and it’s recommended that younger kids get between 9-12 hours of sleep, while teenagers need 8-10 hours a night. (Don’t forget, adults need at least 7!) The problem is so many things compete with our kids’ sleep, with screen time and overloaded schedules being the biggest offenders. That’s where we need to step in and set clear boundaries for devices and help our kids develop good time management strategies to get their work done.

  2. Exercise. We all know that when we move, we feel better. Exercise releases endorphins, keeps our bodies healthy, and is an excellent stress reliever. As parents, we can promote exercise by encouraging our kids to participate in sports, encouraging movement around the house and yard, going on family walks and bike rides, and leading active versus sedentary lives ourselves. 

  3. Talk or write about stressors. It’s important to remind our kids often about the importance of talking about their problems either at home or with doctors, teachers, coaches, and friends. Journaling can also be a way to get out stressful feelings and make sense of what’s going on. Again, as we encourage our kids to try these practices, we can also model the behaviors and help ourselves in the process. 

  4. Practice mindfulness. Remind your kids that in our busy, distraction-filled world, it’s important to go inward and take some time to think. This is where limiting screen time comes in again, and perhaps substituting it with 5 or 10-minute meditation sessions, family yoga, or other activities that give kids the time and permission to just stop...and be.

  5. Have fun. Allow your kids the time and space to just have fun - play with other kids or siblings, run around, watch a fun movie, or spend time with friends. In addition, create fun family traditions like game night, shooting hoops in the driveway, or cooking together - anything that promotes fun, togetherness, and positive feelings. 

  6. GOLF! We could simplify this list even more and just recommend we encourage our kids to golf because, as it turns out, golf checks many of the boxes for reducing stress. Golf is a great way for our kids to get exercise and have fun with family or friends. Plus, the time outside in the fresh air sets the stage for pausing and reflecting (practicing mindfulness), and the camaraderie of fellow players fosters trust and opportunities to talk out problems. And while sleep isn’t encouraged on the course, a good round may just wear our kids out enough so they get a restful night of sleep and are ready to tackle the next day feeling rested and less stressed. 

The best news of all is that with a Youth on Course membership, our kids can participate in a sport that will help them deal with stress now and throughout their lives. Regardless of economic background, Youth on Course provides affordable access to the game both on and off of the golf course. These are the perks of a YOC membership, offering kids a solid foundation for dealing with stress that will serve them for many years to come.

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