Dealing with family stress
- By Team TDO
Stress in families is majorly caused by the lack of emotional intimacy fuelled by reduced amount of shared quality time. Of course, there could be great emotional intimacy and stress due to the lack of harmonious communication. The two main constituents, thus, of a healthy family are emotional intimacy and harmonious communication.
Did you know that healthy living has been declared one of the prime ways to bring peace and well-being to families? Visit sport complexes together and also go on walks. Take into consideration the body requirements of each person and plan accordingly.
Emotional Intimacy: If members in a family are not emotionally intimate to one another, then even small subjects can spark off a conflict. You can increase emotional intimacy with your family members in the following ways:
- Shared activities - The first step towards increasing emotional intimacy between family members is to find a series of activities that you all could do together. This does not necessarily imply that it will be of utmost interest to each of you. The best method is to find out events happening during the week where you all could gather and have a great family time together. Make sure you divide the outings fairly to include everyone’s interest. While this might seem mechanical in the beginning, it will become a healthy habit later on. For instance, my friend Kateline’s family schedules every week to cover the interests of all the members - animal shelter (her daughter Dia), the game station (her son Robert), bowling (her husband Tom), and bird sanctuary (Kate’s interest).
- Going out on a vacation - A vacation is a wonderful way to bring together the family for an extended period of time. Choose a place which all of you like and find out the sights of interest beforehand. This will ensure there are no snarls about which places to visit after arrival. Also, if you are a parent with teenagers or young adults, then while their interests to visit popular hang-out places or a bar or a bustling market could worry you, it is your responsibility to recognize and respect the differences by letting them be on their own if they see the need and by checking up on safe places which could cater to their needs.
- Household work together - This is time for the indoor process of forming intimacy. Start doing small household work together. Do not impose any activities on the other. Let every person choose what she or he wishes to do, and even if someone doesn’t want to do anything, let it be. Give time for the family member to feel warmed up to the process and pitch themselves in automatically. Your act of ordering or instructing or nagging will only break the connections you might have forged over the last two steps.
- Talking - The most important step in any family healing is talking to each other. Make sure you all communicate with each other every day - mostly, our conversations are about ‘What happened at your office today? How was your day?’ and the truth is that these are the most important questions - the small moments make up a whole day. However, they become important only when they are not fillers of silence, but gestures of genuine care. If you feel that there are unresolved emotions and there is only a pretending of care going on, then break the silence at a time when the other is also in a composed state.
Harmonious Communication: Any communication occurring between your family and you should be conditioned by respect and honesty. Do not swallow words or suppress them. To understand and let the issue dissolve is very different from suppressing them (opening the possibility of their breaking out into occasional fits). Remember to stay on the point of discussion and do not let the past issues infuse tension into the present conversations. Remember not to victimize yourself - every act you do is your choice, and thus, your responsibility. The main aim of the conversation is to explore each other’s emotions and come to recognize each person for who they are - letting differences become a breeding ground for union.
Both the above processes will run simultaneously. As your family comes together, the propensity for healthy communication will increase because each of you will consider the feelings of the other during a discussion.