Brandywine Family Medicine

Stress and Self Care

Published 06.11.2021

Everyone handles stress differently. Some people seem to be able to juggle ten things as once without breaking a sweat and others freak out at the littlest thing. It doesn’t mean that one person is better than another, they just handle stress differently. Some of this is genetically programmed and some we learn from our family and friends. I think the important thing is to know your limit and stick to it. Don’t over schedule your self or your family. Have some down time that you and the kids and pets can just sit and talk and cuddle. Don’t do things out of guilt. Do things that make you feel better and that you enjoy. Don’t volunteer for everything at work or with the kids. Backing out of something isn’t failure but sanity. Before you agree to something really ask what it is going to involve and think about what that commitment will look like with all the other things you have going on.

Have some down time for yourself and for your family. Have movie or game night where there is one focus of conversation that you all do together. This is my biggest regret with raising my family is that we had an activity almost every day and ran around like a crazy person between running the business and the practice and then picking up kids and taking them to activities. We hardly ever ate at home and were so rushed all the time. The kids liked doing all the activities but I was miserable. If a kid is going to be a star at something that comes from within them at an early age and you don’t have to drag them to the activity. It is great to play a sport but they don’t have to play on two different travel teams year round. You can’t want it more than they do. Let your kids learn to entertain themselves using their bodies and imaginations. Video games should be a treat time not a daily activity. You should play with the kids so you know what they are doing. Do you really know how violent some of these games are? I am a homebody and am content to just listen to music or read and instead we rushed around all the time. I would sit doing my charts in the car outside of swimming, music, soccer, baseball, volleyball, gymnastics and birthday parties. It was too much for all of us. I should have limited everyone to one activity and stuck with it. Camping is a great bonding experience but if you are already stressed camping out in the living room is great too. Do what is good for you.

I think some parents keep kids busy to keep them out of trouble but they are going to find trouble no matter how busy they are. Giving them more of your time teaching them to make better decisions is the better option. Don’t trust them going to a friend's house to study without checking there before or during the activity with that parent and track their phone.

I see patients all the time who are stressed with work, kids, their parents, and partner issues. I think you need to start with doing what makes you happy and finding time to nourish your self. Have something like a hobby or pastime that you enjoy and do it regularly. It could be reading a book, knitting, woodworking, coloring, photography, or anything. Make time for your self. You deserve it. Do something productive though. Don’t just sit on your phone for three hours watching youtube videos of cake decorating or stupid pet tricks. Have something to show for your time. Volunteer at something. There are always non profits looking for help with pet rescue organizations, helping seniors, church groups, or political organizations. Do something that makes you proud of your self and gives you a sense of value. Teaching kids early to volunteer and give back to the community is a great lesson to start early. I volunteered at a pet shelter when I was young and loved it.

Get exercise for yourself but make it something you enjoy. Walking is usually best. You can do it alone with music or with family and friends. Work up a sweat you will feel better. Exercise classes with a friend: yoga, spin, or swimming. Have a variety of activities so you don’t get bored. A walk in the park on a sunny day has a lot of healing power.

Make your kids step up and help more. They should have chores, significant ones that are age appropriate. They should do their own laundry and clean their rooms and help with dinner and the dishes. They can mow the lawn and rake the leaves. You shouldn’t be doing the work when they are sitting in the house on their phones or playing video games. Teach them responsibility. Teens should have a part time job.

Helping aging parents can be overwhelming and stressful. The time involved with getting them to appointments and helping them around the house can get overwhelming. This has got to be a two way street though. They may need to move closer to you or change their lifestyle some and downsize. A lot of women from our parents generation were stay at home moms and don’t appreciate the stress of being a two parent working family. Just because you have them hire someone to clean their house instead of you cleaning or mowing their yard doesn’t mean you don’t love them but you may just not have the time. Parents can’t expect you to drive to Baltimore every weekend to do their grocery shopping for them or take them for a hair appointment on Tuesdays because it is $5 cheaper than a Saturday. You have got to work together and find solutions and both sides need to give. It helps a lot if all the family is involved. Teens can take grandma to the doctor, just have a list of written questions and have them take notes. Hire an über to get a parent places rather than taking them if they aren’t ok to drive but still mentally clear. Get takeout and have a sit down dinner, you may not have three hours to cook Sunday dinner.

Don’t lose yourself in your busy life.

Book an Appointment

Sexually Transmitted Infections

There are many different sexually transmitted diseases that can affect people. Learn about the vari...


Alcoholism is a serious issue that plagues many Americans. Dr. Elener discusses the effects, causes,...


Dr. Elener explains cholesterol, the waxy substance that is made in your liver. She explains what it...