Family Stress

Top 5 Family Stress Relief Strategies

Having a place to go – is a home.  Having someone to love – is a family.  Having both – is a blessing.  ~Donna Hedges

Stress comes in all forms and from all directions, especially for families in these crazy busy, technologically advanced, financially tough times. However, even with the technology we've available to us, one of the biggest causes of stress in a family is lack of communication.

The unfortunate reality is that kids communicate with seemingly everyone but their family through texting, email, Facebook or Twitter. It can be tough to get through to your kids, which makes it a challenge to strengthen your family's bond.

Getting Involved with Your Kids

One way to get more involved with your kids is to start communicating in a way that they'll actually listen.

This may mean that you need to learn how to text, email and get on the social networks your kids are on. The idea is to be a source of support for your child, and that means you need to be an active player in their life, even if they push you away.

Even if you get active in your child's life online, the best way to communicate with your kids is while they're at home. Talk to them face to face and don't be afraid to ask questions. You might be surprised at how they respond. At first it may seem awkward, but the more you do it, the easier communication becomes.

Communication with Your Spouse

If you're lacking an open line of communication with your spouse, one reason may be that you're not speaking each other's love language or understanding their relating style. This means that you need to discover what your spouse responds to the best. Is it touch, the words you say, gifts, acts of service, or spending quality time together? Once you know how to show love to your spouse, show it abundantly!

Also, listen to your spouse's feelings, as this will often give you ideas about how you can better connect with them. If your spouse says something along the lines of "You never touch me anymore" or she wants to hold hands all the time, her love language is physical touch. If your spouse often uses the phrase "We never spend any time together," and likes to just sit and talk, their love language is quality time.

Spend Quality Time With Your Family

Another big stress on today's family is not spending enough time together. This is most likely because everyone is so busily involved in other activities that you barely have time to yourself, let alone one another.

So, how can you make time to spend with your family?

1. Set aside at least one day out of each week and deem it family day or game night. Spending quality time with your family shows that you're interested in what they're doing and that you care about them. Often teens think that their parents don't care about them because they're never home, or they feel that their parents play a passive role in their lives. And because kids and teens often don't spend quality time with their families, they go elsewhere to get the attention they crave. Unfortunately, elsewhere may not be a good place for your kids to be!

2. Ensure you make time for your spouse. Alone time is important for all marriages so you can continue to strengthen your relationship and explore one another's dreams and desires for the family unit.

3. Make sure your family enjoys at least one meal together each day. Statistics show families that eat together, stay together. Children do better in school and the overall atmosphere in the home is simply happier when you make eating together a priority.

The Financial Burden

Financial problems are another cause of major stress in families today. Often, when the parents aren't in control of their finances, their children suffer the same financial burdens later on in life.

As parents, you must teach your children financial responsibility from an early age. Get your little ones a piggy bank to help them learn about the importance of saving money. As they get older, include them in the budget planning and bill paying. Help them understand the concept of financial responsibility.

Children need to know that money must be earned and that your debit or credit card isn't magically filled with money all the time.

To recap, The Top 5 Family Stress Relievers are:

1. Communicate by speaking directly to your family.
2. Learn what love language your children and spouse speaks.
3. Spend time quality time together as a family with a family day or family game night.
4. Sit down for at least one meal a day with each other.
5. Openly discuss your finances and financial situation with your family.

Incorporating these strategies into your family life will help you have a more open relationship with each family member. Plus, you'll be able to relieve the stress and tension and replace it with joy, health, and happiness.


For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives. Lisa specializes in stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.

Top Ten Ways to Find Peace at Home

“Seek home for rest, for home is best.” –Thomas Tusser

In an ideal world, our home is a place of peace away from the hectic outside world. Creating your own sacred place away from stress is a really important way to cope with outside pressure.
In order to make your home a sanctuary, you have to put in a little effort, but thankfully, it’s easier than you think.

Here are ten ways you can find peace in your home:

1. Clear the Clutter. Many people never feel at ease when they’re at home because their home is disorganized. Of course, a cluttered environment leads to a cluttered mind, and a cluttered mind is a chaotic one. If you take just a few minutes each day to clear the clutter from your home, you’ll feel an immediate difference in your peace level.

2. Find a Hobby. Sometimes we become so busy that we forget what we do during leisure time. Make a date with yourself to pick up you long lost hobby. When you have a hobby to turn to, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to feel peaceful and fulfilled.

3. Turn on the music. Listening to calming music will allow you to let go of the stress of the day and enjoy your time at home. Choose whatever kind of music you like, as long as it relaxes you.

4. Leave your work at work. If your home is an office away from the office, how can you ever find peace? Except for the rare occasion, leave your work at work, both physically and mentally. If you work from home, work in one dedicated space. Also, never work in the same room as you sleep, otherwise, you’ll associate your bedroom as a workspace.

5. Create time to decompress. Do you rush home from work and immediately take on more responsibilities and chores? Instead, allow yourself even 10 or 15 minutes to relax and unwind before you begin tasks for the home. Doing so will mark a clear separation in your mind between work and home. You  might even want to just lie on your bed for a few minutes, read a book, or take a shower. This short time will rejuvenate and refresh you.

6. Be considerate. Be mindful of your family and their daily stresses as well. Too often, we take their presence and contributions for granted. Remember that the people you live with are human, too. Show your gratitude for them.

7. Use positive reinforcement. When someone in your family does something to contribute to the peace, be sure to praise them to let them know you appreciate what they did. This will help foster more peace in the future.

8. Pick your battles. You could fight a lot about little, insignificant things, but is it worth it? Instead, choose only the most important issues to challenge.

9. Allow things to roll off your back. When something isn’t a big deal, just let it go. Instead, focus on maintaining your inner peace. You’ll be glad in the long run that you decided to go this route; it makes life so much easier.

10. Cool off. When you’re involved in a conflict at home, give yourself some time to cool off. Doing so will help you calmly talk about your feelings and come to a resolution. Or perhaps you just may realize that the issue wasn’t as big of a deal as you first thought.

Maintaining peace in your home is important to the health and well being of every family member. Use these tips to nurture a peaceful environment for a happy home.

Stress and the Sandwich Generation

“Before healing others, heal yourself” –Lao Tzu

There is a growing population of people caring both for their elderly parents and their own children. They are better known as the “Sandwich Generation”, folks who seem to be doing it all-career, and caring for both older and younger family members. According to a poll taken in 2011, women between the ages of 45-64 had the lowest well-being of any other gender or age group. Today’s superwoman is most likely to fill up her calendar with too many obligations, skip meals and not get enough sleep.

Meet Linda, a 54 year old executive friend who works from home. Her husband, also a high-powered business man spends many hours away from home. Linda cares for her teenage daughter from a previous marriage, who is about ready to leave for college in the next year.  In addition, her husband’s children, who are in their 20’s occasionally, live with them.  “It’s nothing short of chaos,” Linda says. In addition, Linda cares for her elderly father, who lives independently in a town not too far from where she lives. “I just feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with my father, husband or children.” She goes on to say that she felt torn apart.

Linda forgot to mention one person to care for: Linda. When are all of your efforts enough?

There seems not to be an easy answer in this situation. However, one thing is crystal clear: You have to care for your needs. Your energy tank will quickly run on fumes without proper nutrition sleep and time to yourself. You’ve got to refill your tank in order to effectively care for other people.

Here are some warning signs that you are spreading yourself too thin:

• Your easily frustrated, short-tempered and lack patience
• You are fatigued with problems getting or staying asleep.
• You feel “wired but tired”, anxious and worried
• You think that there is not enough time in the day possible to get everything done.

Break the cycle of always putting others before you. You deserve every ounce of love and caring that you give your loved ones. When stressed it’s easy to distort the perception of how much time you have in the day. Really pay attention to where time is leaking in your day. Guard your resources carefully. They are the very thing that will strengthen your efforts and feed your soul.

Remember, you are not alone.  There are other people, maybe right next door that share the same beliefs and frustrations you do. Maybe there are responsibilities that you can share with the next person to carpool the kids or taking turns driving them to sports events. Become very familiar with resources for the elderly. These are ideas that just scratch the surface and are individual to every person’s situation. The main idea to take away is that if you try to do it alone, something has to give. And that something could very well be your health.

Are you in this situation? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Leave your comments below!

For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped thousands of people reduce stress in their lives. Lisa specializes in stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.

Gifts from My Father: On Life, Death and Love

“Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tenderly, very sweet… wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me.” Thich Nhat Hanh, from the book No Death, No Fear

Five years ago I received a call from my sister. The call that I knew deep in my heart would happen one day. She told me that our father had suffered a massive stroke. He was still conscious in the emergency room and talked with him on the phone. Little did I know this would be the last time I would hear him say, “I love you, honey.”

I raced up the highway for what seemed like the longest drive in the world. My mind was on overload and adrenaline pulsed through my body. I had to get to the hospital and be by his side and comfort my family. Since I had spoken to him 7 hours earlier and fell into a near coma.

I spent a little more than a week with my father before his death. I lived at the hospital mostly and slept on the couch in his room. There were cherished nights when I sat and held his hand, walking through everything he taught me in my mind. I held the hand of the man with steel courage, a warrior and fighter. A decorated war hero, devoted father and husband, my father spent time and taught me how to deal with life’s ups and downs. There were regrets about things I had said or did that I wanted to take back. I began to replace them with beautiful memories, happy times when dad shared what he knew about life. He was never one to hide his feelings. We always knew exactly what he had on his mind.

He prepared me for life, but I had yet to realize it.

Nine days later, my father passed away with his family at his side. I was numb and in disbelief. In fact, I never knew the depth of my emotions until that night. I was convinced that a part of me was gone, something that would never come back to me. I felt lost.

I longed so for the things I couldn’t have; the warm hugs, sage advice on how to deal with the world. I wanted to hear him say what I call “daddyisms”. My favorites were, “Squeaky wheel gets the grease” or “Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.” I kept looking outside of me, thinking there was some way to deal with the pain I had in my heart. There had to be a book, spiritual advice comfort from others who had lost loved ones, too. I just wanted relief. I knew my father no longer suffered. So why was I choosing to live in fear and pain?

The stress in my life began to overwhelm me. A new business, troubled marriage and financial woes began to push me over the edge. A few months after my father’s death, I picked up a book called No Death, No Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh. I was looking for peace within my pain and grief. And I found these words:

“From that moment on the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.”

I realized my father never left.

The very thing I kept looking for lived inside of me. I suddenly realized that as long as I lived, so did my father. I knew I had many of his traits. I began to see a bigger picture about life, death and love. I truly came from a long line of strong people, teachers and leaders. Ancestors who faced their fears head on. Everything I needed to deal with my grief and problem already existed. I had to reach deep down inside of me and used what had been give to me in love. Daddy, I thank you for that.

Stress and Holidays: How to Plan for a Thankful Thanksgiving

The Thanksgiving holiday brings back fond memories from many years ago. Mom and dad would bundle up the kids and travel to my grandparents’ home. Dad would always sing “Over the River and Through the Woods” while we were driving to spend time with kin. My grandparents were so rich with the gifts they gave from their hearts. We would squeeze upwards of 25 people in their tiny home. I was so excited to see our family from Ohio since we only connected during the Thanksgiving holiday.  These are fond memories that I hold dear in my heart.

Holidays can create beautiful memories at the same time as cause stressful situations.  Here are some tips to keep the Thanksgiving holiday a treasured memory:

Plan for Dinner, Dishes, and Decorations.  All fabulous feasts start with a good plan. The plan includes a menu, guest list, decorations, table setting and cooking and clean up duties. If you have people who want to easily communicate with each other, create a Dropbox account. It’s an online program where you can share files between dinner attendees who are helping with the menu and more. Create files for your plan that everyone can contribute to make the perfect meal. Great planning also includes asking for help. Create a sign-up sheet so people may bring dishes.  I always love to try a new recipe before a big event. This prevents having a mediocre dish for dinner.

Put the Give Back in Thanksgiving.  Give to another person or family this Thanksgiving season. When stressed, we get so focused on the big day event that we forget those who may not have something to eat or a place to go. One of my favorite things to do is ask someone to spend the day that would otherwise be alone. Share toys at a local children’s hospital or bring homemade food and goodies to a nursing home facility. Give to another person less fortunate than you when you are feeling obsessed about the perfect holiday. Your perspective will immediately change.

Make Time for You. Open your date book and look at the next two weeks. Do you see any recharge time planned for you? Plan a 30-minute massage, reading or relaxation time. Break up the time with refueling your energy tank. Do what it takes to give back to you.

Look at Your Expectations. Some folks search for that perfect holiday. It’s the Thanksgiving with the ideal table setting, food, guests who all get along and nothing goes wrong all day. Check your expectations to make sure you have left space for life to happen. I love my childhood Thanksgiving memories but I can’t recreate them.  Families change over the course of many years. Setting the expectation bar to high sets you up for misery. Be present in the moment of Thanksgiving.

Leave a comment below about hints that help reduce your stress for Thanksgiving below!


For over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives.Lisa specializes stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.

Who Cares for the Caregiver?

Over the years, I have worked with countless families caring for ill loved ones. Spouses, partners, children and friends lend a hand after a loved one’s surgery or stroke.  It was an honor to partner with people working together to help someone recover.  I also witnessed my mother painstakingly care for my father in his final years of life.  After a length of time, she had community support with various programs and respite. Sometimes our choice to say no is more difficult than others. Especially after knowing and loving someone for over sixty years.

Caregivers wear different hats. Some of us choose to go into the healthcare or service industry. Others are caring, compassionate friends. Some, as my mother, care for a family member in need. Each and every day, you care for someone without batting an eyelash.

When does caring for others become a problem?

Care giving becomes a risk to your well-being or others when two things occur. Caring for others becomes an issue when you have over-obligated yourself. You end up having an appointment book full of commitments and unable to fulfill them. You may have accepted too many over-time shifts in a row. Maybe you have worked so hard that your own health is in danger. Caregivers of ill family members or friends are too many to mention. Caregivers can work endlessly and not realize that they have missed meals or taken care of their own needs. Stress hormones coupled with denial can be harmful combination to anyone’s health.

Caring for others becomes a concern when your intent for any other reason except for helping out another person. Does that sound backward? So is an unclear intent when helping others. A misguided reason for helping others hopefully is not a conscious act.  The subtlety sometimes lies deep with our subconscious. You might have been taught the message at a young age that you always help someone before you help yourself. Or you learned at an early age that helping people gave great rewards of love and attention from parents. Helping others without a conscious intent can be a false way to build self-esteem or confidence. Some people dislike conflict and would rather please others than to say no. Maybe it’s the fact that sitting alone in silence is painful. An unfocused intent does not mean you are a horrible person by any means. It can be the difference of making sure we care for ourselves (which is the big ticket) or not.

What can you be aware of as a caregiver?

Caregivers need to care for themselves, too. In other words, you can’t run a car without gasoline. Nurture yourself as much as you are caring for the person in need.

Be aware of your own issues. We all have them, big or small, whether we want to admit it or not.  It’s never easy looking at our warts but so rewarding when you do. It’s part of self-care and personal growth.

Connect with others. It’s so important to ask and receive support from those around us. Sometimes support comes from another friend or family member. Sometimes help is in the form of a coach, clergy or counselor. Whatever it takes, never be a lone caregiver. over 25 years in the health care profession, Lisa Birnesser has studied stress relief techniques and have helped hundreds of people reduce stress in their lives.Lisa specializes stress management coaching by helping people do what matters most every day.



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