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Working parents: Stay on top of stress

A mom walking with her two young daughters.

Taking steps to manage stress can help you successfully juggle a career and a family.

Your 6-year-old wakes up feverish on a deadline-filled workday. Do you send them to school and hope for the best? Stay at home and worry about missing work? It can seem like a no-win situation.

Welcome to the world of working parents, where there's rarely time to catch your breath; where after a full workday, you still need to cook dinner, help with spelling homework, referee sibling fights and read bedtime stories.

Welcome to a world of stress.

If this is your world, it's time to unwind. The stress you're under could become more than an irritation.

Persistent stress can disrupt your sleep, upset your stomach and raise your blood pressure, cautions the Office on Women's Health.

It can also weaken your immune system, making you more prone to colds and other illnesses. And it can leave you emotionally drained, raising your risk for depression.

All this is why it's important to take steps to reduce your stress to a manageable level. These tips can help:

Ditch the guilt. Placing your child in the care of others may leave you feeling conflicted or guilty. But kids can thrive, even when parents work outside the home.

What matters most to children's development is not whether their parents work, but whether they feel loved, cared for and supported.

Build teamwork. Don't shoulder the chore burden all on your own. When everyone in the family pitches in, there's more time to spend doing things you enjoy together.

Send an S.O.S. Every family needs help sometimes. Don't hesitate to turn to others—including grandparents, neighbors, relatives and other parents. You'll repay the favor when your help is needed.

Cut corners. Do you really need to cook dinner, do a load of laundry and make the weekly grocery run after work tonight? Save what you can for the weekend, and keep your weeknight routine as simple as possible.

Make yourself a priority. Set aside 10 minutes a day to do something just for yourself. If it helps, think of this as an order from your doctor.

Discover the power of "no." Know—and honor—your limits. Don't commit yourself to more than you can comfortably handle.

Turn to a friend. Among other things, talking to a friend has the potential to help you release negative feelings, see your situation more clearly and get sorely needed support.

Respect your body. Eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising can all increase your tolerance for stress.

Finally, get help from a professional if you need it. Counseling may help you take better care of yourself and learn helpful coping skills.

Reviewed 10/12/2022

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