The last couple weeks have been pretty stressful. Due to some unforeseen complications, the publisher I work for had to let an employee go—an employee who, unfortunately, was my support staff. In an effort to keep projects from stalling, I jumped in to take care of the extra work, which elevated my stress levels quite a bit. Truth be told, this post was supposed to come out last week, but I couldn’t find the time to write it.

Naturally, that stress works its way into my home, leaving me irritable and cranky, dragging down my wife and son. Even though I am still not in a calm place, I made time to reflect and identified a few ways to reduce stress and stay present with my family.

 

Take a Joy Ride After Work

Long or short, the commute can be annoying and a setup up for short-tempered disaster upon arriving home. So how do I deal with the stress of work and the stress of the commute?

Turns out, the answer has been pretty simple—add a few minutes to my commute and take a joy ride. It could be a simple drive around the neighborhood. I realize that spending longer getting home seems counter-productive, but my family appreciates me when I am happier, and that extra few minutes does the trick. And when my wife has a stressful day and ends up home a few minutes later than usual, I try to give her the freedom to do so. It is better for them to come home happy than it is for them to get those dishes done right now!

Turn Off Your Phone

I am attached to my phone. It is the center of my reality where I keep current with online classes, email at work, my family’s calendar, even chatting with my extended family and friends. When I do this around my son, though, I am not just ignoring him—I am teaching him a lifestyle that he will act out in front of his children. If keeping track of all that needs doing is more important than he is, I am teaching him to find more value in the world than his own family. Learning from his own father, he will inevitably act this out with he becomes a father himself.

Drink Water

Sounds weird, right? But what’s the first thing we forget when stress levels are high? Taking care of yourself! I tend to skip lunch when I have too much to do, or forget to keep my water bottle full. Not drinking water drastically affects the way my body delivers oxygen to my brain, in turn affecting how I handle stress. Check out this article (http://www.livestrong.com/article/30517-happens-dont-drink-water-like/). A one percent drop in water loss is enough to change how I react!

A five percent loss—five percent!—affects my muscle strength and endurance. This means I will not move as quickly, work as quickly, or think as quickly. I will definitely react to further stress in a negative fashion. My family needs us to be in top shape, and I owe it to them to take care of myself.

Breathe

Again, strange. But like water, my body is dependent on getting enough oxygen to function. And what happens during stress? I rush from place to place, causing me to take shorter and more frequent breaths. This in turn elevates my blood pressure and makes my heart work harder. The lack of oxygen and water exhausts my body, leaving me totally unprepared for the needs of my family.

Everything I do at work revolves around email, so I’ve made it a point to take a slow, deep breath each time I open a new one. This floods my body with oxygen, resulting in a clearer mind and the ability to deal with the next email well. Likewise, taking deep breaths before reacting to my wife and son keeps me clear headed and gives me a moment before acting in a loving way.

 

Not only do these help me stay focused on my family, but they help my spirit find rest. When I bring my stress home with me, I force my family to deal with it and life for all of us becomes unbearable. Letting my stress go gives me peace, and in turn blesses my family.

Give your family the blessing of giving up your stress.

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