My children are tired and out-of-sorts when they return home from their after-school program and
are becoming increasingly rebellious.
They appear to be under severe stress; it sounds as though regular habits and nutritious meals
may be needed.
I am a nurse who has been working the night shift full time for more than 10 years. My husband
is self-employed and works 6 days a week. Because of our different work schedules, the time we spend
together is getting shorter and shorter. Since both are tired out, we get upset and have frequent
arguments over trivial matters. I feel isolated. My two children (in high school and junior high)
are forced to do a lot of after-school activities on their own. When I do see them, they tend to tire
easily and talk back and argue, rather than obey.
They have become frail and seem to have colds year-round. There is hardly time for the whole family
to get together, but when we do, we tend to pile up more problems. We are all stressed out. What
can I do to improve the kids' health and improve our lives?
No one who is living in this busy and crowded modern society is free from stress; it is inevitable.
But not all stress is bad. Stress is a necessary consequence of change. An appropriate amount of
stress helps invigorate life, and motivates us do something about our desires.
At the moment, your family seems to be in a state of exhaustion as a result of severe stress. When
stress piles up, one feels tired, flies into explosive fury, becomes forgetful, disorganized, passive,
isolated, feels guilty, and sometimes resorts to alcohol, cigarettes, and even drugs.
Extreme stress can damage one's health. It may lead to such dangerous symptoms such as a weakened
immune system, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, memory loss, and accelerated mental ageing and
It is impossible to entirely eliminate stress from our lives. But our response to stress is within our
control to a certain extent, depending on our perception of stress and our ability to cope. If you
feel that stress is overwhelming and negative, and that the change it is thrusting upon you is unwelcome
and the cause of all your unhappiness, then you have allowed it to become "distress."
On the other hand, if you perceive it to be a challenge, and the impulse to personal growth, it can
be a stimulus toward mental and psychological health, and new levels of function and satisfaction.
Obviously, certain kinds of stress may simply be unmanageable and inappropriate. Perhaps you are
unsuited for the job you have taken on, either physically, mentally, psychologically, or constitutionally.
Perhaps the relationship you have developed with loved ones is not meeting any of your needs.
Only you know what is good for you.
As far as your family is concerned, it sounds like you all could benefit from stress management therapy.
Children tend to reflect the emotional and psychological health of their parents. Make time to spend
time together enjoying one another's company. Down time refreshes and increases productivity. Remember,
life is not a sprint but a marathon.
Students as well as adults get stressed out from their studies, friendships, and domestic problems.
They need regular sleeping habits, exercise, and balanced meals.
Good stress management skills begin in childhood, promoting effective application of thinking, feeling,
and acting. As a family, I recommend all members put the following into practice.
(1)Sustain a positive "can do" attitude.
(2)Cultivate a forum in which to express your feelings and thoughts.
(3)Manage your time effectively so that you will have time to enjoy life and each other's company
(4)Ask for help when you need it.
(5)Admit your mistakes and failures, and move on.
(6)Cultivate a sense of humor.
(7)Nourish yourself and others.
Remember, each one of us has a responsibility to maintain an "attitude of gratitude" for the blessings,
talents, and opportunities we have. Pride and satisfaction, not envy, are the keys to health and
happiness. As for stress, it is our clarion call to change, and yet another blessing in disguise.