by Kirsten Starr, M.D.; Private Internal Medicine Center, Scripps Clinic

Sanity-Saving Tips for Parents

scripps_starrParenting is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but it can also be stressful and exhausting. Fortunately, there are ways to stay calm, sane, and stress-free in the midst of normal family chaos. These nine tips should help you recharge:

Drink plenty of water. Mild dehydration can affect your body before you realize you are thirsty. Lack of water can cause headaches, fatigue, and lack of energy.

Stay away from junk food. When you’re tired and hungry, it’s easy to reach for unhealthy snacks, but don’t neglect your diet. As a general rule, try to eat something every two to four hours, and select low-calorie snacks, such as nuts, fruit, and cut-up veggies. An expanding waistline will only add to your stress and your mood swings.

Get out of the house. Even if you are exhausted, go outside for a rejuvenating walk because fresh air and exercise can help put everything in perspective.
Let out your creative self. Create something each day, even if it is just an idea or dream. This will help you stay connected to yourself.

Ask for support. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for support, even if that is as simple as calling a friend or checking out a blog. Arrange for a babysitting swap with friends, or ask a trusted family member to watch the little ones while you exercise or get some sleep.

Laugh. Laughter is good for you and your family. Laughter reduces your stress by increasing the endorphins to your brain and relaxing your muscles. It should be easy to find humor in the antics of your little ones.

Be grateful. Try writing down three things every day for which you are thankful. Having an attitude of gratitude provides perspective and brings you to the present.

Take time for yourself. Understand that you most likely won’t finish everything on your “To Do” list – ever. So take time each day to do something you like and that brings you joy. Some parents wake up before the family to read and enjoy a cup of uninterrupted coffee or tea. You may choose to carve out some time to meditate, take a bath, or simply listen to music.

Play with your kids. Have some stress relievers you can do with your children, such as drawing, blowing bubbles, dancing, and playing with pets. Stroking the cat, feeding hay to the bunny, playing catch at the park with the dog, or even watching fish glide in an aquarium can reduce stress and can also teach your children to care for others.

Raising a family has its challenges, but learning to relax and giving up the idea of perfection will let you and your children enjoy the ride, bumps and all.

Kirsten Starr, M.D., provides concierge medical services at the Private Internal Medicine Center (PIMC) at Scripps Clinic in Carmel Valley. Dr. Starr offers personalized primary care to a limited number of patients who are members of PIMC. When not caring for her patients, she enjoys outdoor activities, such as competitive sailing and surfing, and music.

scripps02Call 858-554-7462 to learn more about PIMC or to schedule a consultation.