When we want to see our kids feeling less stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed (hello, school, extracurriculars, home responsibilities, and learning to manage themselves among peers and social pressure!), a great place to start is with ourselves.
Perhaps counter-intuitive, as our goal is to help our kids and starting with ourselves isn’t directly about our kids. However, if we actually want to help, bringing our own feelings of stress and overwhelm to the table (and we’re human — we all have demands on our time and to do lists to get through, plus it bites to see our kids not happy), even if we’re trying with good and loving intentions, just adds to their pile. So instead, let’s flip the script and start with ourselves (and yes, we will get back to our kids): What can we do in this hour, day, and week to chill ourselves out, even just a tad?
Could we write down and then read first thing in the morning (and maybe whenever else we need to hear it) a reminder that we can figure out something useful to do in any and every situation (everything is figureoutable!) or that life is messy sometimes — for everyone (no one has it all together, all of the time)? Or perhaps put down our phones to take a breather for 2 minutes and press pause on the on-going mental and emotional bombardment of stimuli urging us to look here right now!!!? Or any other number of chill out techniques: meditating for 5 minutes, taking 3 deep breaths, going for a walk, listening to a song, doing 10 jumping jacks (a personal favorite), or [fill in the blank with your choice].
Then, when we are a tad more even-keeled, we re-approach our kids to offer an idea, help, or suggestion. Best case scenario: we find something that helps and that they actually do, which lowers their stress and overwhelm a decent notch. Worst case scenario? Their stress and overwhelm still drops a tad, because our more chill energy reverse-compounds the stress they are feeling. Win-win.