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Coping With Parenting Stress & Anxiety: Signs Stress Is Taking Over & What to Do About It

An individual seated at a table, working on a laptop with one hand while gripping a cellphone between their shoulder and cheek, holding a crying child on their lap with the other hand.

Parenting can be a wonderful experience. It is filled with adventures and life lessons that simply cannot be reproduced in any other way. However, the physical and mental toll of the job can begin to show up as your body goes through changes and stress builds up at times. This stress can lead to countless symptoms, from mental illness to even hair loss. But what can you do to manage the stress of parenting?

Below are several of the most common signs of parenting stress and anxiety as well as recommendations for the best ways to handle each situation.

Common Causes of Stress In Parents

When it comes to parental stress, there are several primary culprits.

  • Pressure to meet developmental milestones: Parents may feel an added burden as they attempt to help their children hit developmental milestones on a regular basis.
  • Finding a balance between daycare and home life: If one or both parents work, they may have to put their child in daycare for large chunks of the day. This can add stress as parents attempt to balance time spent at a daycare with good home life. This is particularly important if you work remotely from home, as the stress of work and parenting can compound one another.
  • Making sure your children are safe: Safety looms large for many parents, from cuts and bruises to fears of unpleasant encounters or even full-blown abductions. These potential dangers can leave parents perpetually stressed about the state of their child’s safety.
  • Helping your child thrive in school: Everything from getting on the bus to packing a lunch, maintaining good grades, and attending parent-teacher conferences can make the school experience stressful for a parent.
  • Paying for family life: Life with kids is expensive. In fact, the USDA estimates that, on average, each child accumulates nearly $250,000 of expenses. Coming up with family funding on a regular basis is not an easy feat.
  • Cultivating your child’s social skills: A parent naturally worries about their child’s ability to make friends, grow friendships, and develop relationships with family members.
  • Keeping your children entertained: Children often have short attention spans and are constantly in a state of learning and development. This can be an added burden to parents as they take on the responsibility of keeping their children entertained.

Of course, these are just some of the most common forms of stress in a parent’s life. Each individual is different. Your unique situation, mindset, and triggers can dictate the specific elements that lead to stress in your parenting journey. 

Signs You’re Experiencing Stress From Parenting

With so many concerns swirling in a parent’s already overcrowded brain, it’s no wonder chronic stress is an issue. Here are a few of the most common manifestations of that stress:

  • Hair loss: The term “pulling out your hair” is often associated with parenting — and with good reason, as the stresses that come from having children can be contributing reasons for hair loss.
  • Sleep deprivation: From sleep training to wetting the bed, nightmares, and sickness, there are many reasons a parent can lose sleep during the night hours.
  • Chronic worry: The legitimate concerns that come with parenting can quickly spiral into a cycle of worry.
  • Early aging: Signs of stress can also lead to various signs of premature aging, such as grey hair, gaunt hands, or dry skin.

Along with these personal symptoms, there are also several warning signs that can reveal that stress is impacting your relationship with your child.

How Stress Can Affect Your Parenting

Below are a few ways that sustained levels of stress can impact your family dynamic, such as:

  • Toleration of loved ones: You may love your family, but that doesn’t change the fact that, when you’re stressed, it can be difficult to tolerate your partner or even your child at times.
  • Angry outbursts: It’s easy to snap at your child when you’re feeling strung out and at your wit’s end.
  • Feeling disconnected: Stress can make you less capable of connecting and empathizing with your child.

Additionally, if your home life is rife with stress, it can begin to directly impact your children through behaviors and symptoms like:

  • Wetting the bed;
  • Difficulty sleeping;
  • Frequent crying and emotional outbursts;
  • Excessive clinginess and fear of separation;
  • A struggle to concentrate;
  • Headaches and stomachaches.

Parenting can be stressful, but it’s important to remember how it affects those that you love as well.

Coping With Parenting Stress

On a certain level, stress is considered a normal part of life. Rather than trying to control or eliminate it, it’s more proactive to take steps to manage your stress. You can do this in a variety of different ways:

  • Managing hair loss and early aging: Consider investing in hair loss products to help curb the impact of losing hair over the years. You can also combat other signs of early aging by using skincare and other hygiene products.
  • Managing sleep deprivation: Do your best to create a sleep routine for your family. In addition, make sure that your bedroom is optimized for quality sleep.
  • Managing chronic worry: It’s important to talk about your worries through personal journaling, talking with your partner, or even communicating with a professional.
  • Managing feelings of disconnect: It’s easy to drift apart — from both your partner and your child — when parenting. However, you can make a point to communicate and set aside time to spend bonding as a family.
  • Managing toleration of loved ones and outbursts: You may find that discontent and anger are manifesting in your home more and more often. When this happens, consider enrolling with a good family counselor in your area to help you navigate the barrage of feelings that your family is struggling with.

Stress can be a destructive force; it’s important to identify it and take steps to address it before it gets out of hand. If you can do that, it can help to restore peace and connection within your family.

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