Prioritize self-care: It’s essential to make time for yourself and practice self-care, even if it means just taking a few moments of ‘me’ time each day. This can include taking a short walk, meditating, or taking a few deep breaths.
With all that’s going on in our country, our economy, the world, and on social media, it feels like so many of us are under a great deal of stress. Parenting, in particular, can be stress-inducing. We know chronic stress can be as unhealthy as smoking a quarter of a pack a day. It is also challenging to be a present parent when your relationship is under stress. What are stress management strategies that parents use to become “Stress-Proof? What are some great tweaks, hacks, and tips that help reduce or even eliminate stress? In this interview series, we are talking to authors, parenting experts, business and civic leaders, and mental health experts who can share their strategies for reducing or eliminating stress. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mark Joseph.
Mark here from Parentalqueries.com, a website dedicated to helping parents deal with everything from the day-to-day struggles of parenting to the more difficult issues like pregnancy and more.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!
Thanks for having me! Well, my journey started back when I was a young parent. Like many parents, I found parenting to be quite challenging at times. As stress levels increased, it led to social anxiety at that time. It had come to the point where I could barely go out and find a job, hardly socialize with people, and stay at home. That was where my comfort zone ended. Which I understand is extreme, but with the support of my wife and family, I decided to launch Parentalqueries.com as a place where parents could get advice on everything from stress management to parenting and more. Since then, I’ve been helping parents navigate parenting stressors with various stress-proofing methods, tips, and tricks that have helped make life a little easier. We must find out what works best for us regarding self-relief techniques.
What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?
If I had the chance to meet myself at a younger age, I would stress the importance of stress management and stress-proofing measures. It’s easy to get stressed, especially as a young parent. Things keep getting out of our hands, and figuring out where to start becomes challenging. Stress management isn’t a one-time thing; it needs to be worked on consistently, and stress-proofing measures should be taken regularly. I’d also stress the importance of self-care. Taking time out for yourself can make all the difference when stress levels become too much to handle — finally, having a support system that consists of our friends and family such that it becomes easy to reach out in times of stress.
None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?
I am thankful for my wonderful wife, Sarah, who has been my amazing support system throughout this journey. She was there for me during my stress-filled days, providing reassurance and comfort when I needed it the most. Her optimism in challenging times encouraged me to keep going and helped me brainstorm ideas to make ParentalQueries.com more successful.
If I recall the story correctly. I was sick due to my high-pressure job at that time. She used to take care of me all the time. She managed to do all the work and ensured I was always comfortable. Once I had so much anxiety that I woke up covered in sweat. She woke up and constantly comforted me till I became normal. Later, she made me my favorite sandwiches. We went back to bed together, listened to our favorite songs, and fell asleep together. It was then that I knew that she was the one and I’d be a fool if I let her go.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?
I am currently working on a stress-management program where I provide stress-proofing tips and strategies to help people better manage their stress. The program will focus on self-care, stress management techniques, and lifestyle choices that can reduce stress levels. It also includes advice on creating an effective stress-proofing plan for stress-filled situations.
This program will be an excellent resource for those struggling to manage their stress and needing guidance on how to lead a stress-free life. More people can learn how to create healthier, stress-free lives by providing stress-proofing tips and strategies.
Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about stress. How would you define stress?
Stress is any physical, mental, or emotional reaction to a perceived unpleasant or overwhelming situation. Stress can be caused by anything, be it external or internal factors. Family can cause it, life in general, relationships, and our simple thought processes like thinking about the future. Recognizing when stress starts to kick in is very important, and measures should be taken as soon as we see a red flag.
In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. So what has led to this chronic stress? Why are so many of us always stressed out?
The stress we experience in the Western world is mainly due to our modern lifestyles. We are constantly connected and bombarded with information from multiple sources, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed out. On top of that, many of us have demanding careers and lives that require us to be constantly “on,” leading to feelings of exhaustion and stress. Finally, our society often puts a premium on success and achievement, leading us to push ourselves even when we don’t have the capacity or resources to do so, which can lead to stress and burnout. All these pressures combine to create an environment ripe for stress levels to remain high.
What are some of the physical manifestations of being under a lot of stress? How does the human body react to stress?
When stress is chronic, it changes the kind of person you are and causes physical distress. Common physical symptoms of anxiety include headaches, muscle tension and pain, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, digestive issues, and changes in appetite. Being agitated and irritated for no reason are also signs of stress. It’s important to recognize these signs of stress and manage stress levels to keep stress-related health issues at bay. By proactively stress-proofing our lives, we can reduce stress’s impact on our mental and physical well-being.
Is stress necessarily a bad thing? Can stress ever be good for us?
Yes, stress can also benefit you in many ways. For example, stress can help us focus our energy on a task and perform better in specific scenarios, such as exams or job interviews. It can also motivate us to stay focused and energized when we need to complete a task quickly or efficiently. In these cases, stress can be beneficial and help us perform better.
Is there a difference between being in a short-term stressful situation versus an ongoing stress? Are there long-term ramifications to living in a constant state of stress?
It is important to remember that there are only certain situations where stress can benefit us. Any stress that happens for a long duration can do no good. Chronic stress takes away your mental and physical well-being and affects your sanity.
Let’s now focus more on the stress of parenting. This feels intuitive, but it is helpful to spell it out in order to address it. Can you help articulate why being a parent can be so stressful?
Yes, there is a vast difference between the two of them. Short-term stress can be beneficial in certain situations, as it can motivate us and keep us focused on achieving our goals.
Stress for a longer duration can profoundly impact your mental and physical health. It causes burnout, severe depression symptoms, or even an inability to regulate oneself correctly in the long term, which could result from the present life problems you face, such as trauma culture climate. This is because it makes us constantly overwhelmed by our thoughts, so we feel exhausted all day, every moment, without any chance for reprieve.
Can you help spell out some of the problems that come with being a stressed parent?
Parenting is no part-time job, and with parenting comes responsibilities. My wife and I constantly worry about our children’s safety, health, education, and future success. Ensure that the emotional and physical requirements of the child should be adequately met.
On top of this, we often juggle multiple responsibilities, such as working full-time, taking care of a household, and parenting simultaneously. Parents need to take time out for themselves to manage stress levels and ensure they can fulfill their roles as parents. By stress-proofing their lives, parents can reduce the stress of parenting and maintain a healthy balance between work, family, and leisure.
When my daughter was born, I had no clue how to be a good parent, and my stress levels were high. So I could not provide for her emotionally.
She slept on the bassinet initially. For the first month, she would sleep for a max of 3–4 hours before she needed a feed. She used to wake my wife and me up multiple times at night and start crying. I felt irritated at all times, and that led to stress.
She’s starting to demand more attention from us and is awake way more than asleep during the day. Between work and my personal life, it became very hectic and stressful. It also impacted my relationship with my wife for some time.
Here is the main question of our interview: Can you share with our readers your “5 stress management strategies that parents can use to remove some of the stress of parenting?” Please share a story or example for each.
1. Create a stress-free environment: Before parenting kicks in, it’s essential to create an environment conducive to stress management. This includes maintaining order and cleanliness at home and creating organizational systems for yourself.
Example: I recently started having a regular cleaning schedule for our house, which has helped ensure everything is in check, and our home environment remains stress-free.
2. Prioritize self-care: It’s essential to make time for yourself and practice self-care, even if it means just taking a few moments of ‘me’ time each day. This can include taking a short walk, meditating, or taking a few deep breaths.
Example: I found that mindfulness meditation has been helping me stay stress-free and be more present with my family.
3. Communicate effectively: Communicating openly with your spouse and children when facing stress at home is essential. This helps to identify stress triggers, assess stress levels, and support each other.
Example: After having a stressful day, I realized that talking it out with my wife was the best way to relieve stress. We started talking things out and understanding what had made us so overwhelmed.
4. Use stress-management techniques: There are various stress-relieving techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga that can assist in stress management. Find a method that best helps you and is easy to perform.
Example: For me, taking 10 minutes of the day to practice deep breathing has become crucial in managing stress levels around parenting. I ensure I dedicate my time to the same daily, even for a few minutes.
5- Accept your emotions- emotions can be overwhelming at times. They make you overthink and stress about the prettiest things, and when you are emotionally unstable, this overthinking can hinder your will to think straight. Instead of crying over what you are feeling at that moment, try to accept that it’s just a phase that will pass.
Example: When I started doubting my capabilities as a father, it took a lot of energy out of me. I used to feel low, and even simple tasks like cuddling my child felt a lot. I realized later that having a kid was no small deal, and I was bound to be emotional. So I accepted my feelings as a father, and slowly I became more confident, and those feelings faded out slowly.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?
1- Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. This book helped me understand the power of the mind, how it holds the skill to stir up all emotions and how, when the mind is in control, finding joy in even the tiniest of things becomes easier. Celebrating your life does not come from things but from how you perceive things.
2- Ikigai — The Japanese Secret to a long and happy life. It felt as if the book was a small guide into living a life full of joy and how simple things such as a smile and slight changes to your thinking and way of doing things changed your perspective about a happy life.
Though joy is not something you can find in books, these inspired me to seek it.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could start a movement that would create a difference in most people’s lives, it would be a self-awareness program where childhood traumas can be discussed. I feel that any trauma in the early phases of life has a lot of say in what we become. Psychological help to most people is not in easy reach, and many don’t even know that their basic behavior reflects what they went through as a child. This affects not only the person but also the next generation to come as their behavior will influence the next to come.
If one cannot deal with his traumas, it will reflect in the people he lives with. A movement on understanding oneself where with the help of professionals, psychological help could be given to people to make them know themselves better would help create a better society.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
If you want to follow Prentalqueries.com. It is a website dedicated to helping parents with their queries.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.