Helping Families and Youth Communicate When Stress Gets in the Way
- Recognize Stress. Tune into your body: Are you “forgetting” to breathe?
- Are your muscles tight? Are your hands clenched? Is your stomach upset? Do you feel dizzy or disoriented?
- Take a moment. You can decide to continue a conversation or postpone it.
- Come to your senses. One way to relieve stress is through the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Take a few deep breaths, inhaling through the nose. Try clenching and relaxing muscles. Imagine a soothing image. Each person responds differently to sensory input, so find things that calm YOU.
- Look for humor. Humor can be a great way to relieve stress, when used appropriately. Lighten the mood by sharing a joke or amusing story. Avoid sarcasm – it is an angry humor that is likely to set communication back a few steps, not move it forward.
- Meet in the middle. Is there a middle ground or starting point on which you can agree? Getting SOME agreement reduces the stress levels for everyone involved and provides a foundation for the next conversation.
Step Away. It might be best to take a quick break and move away from the situation. Take a quick walk, or find a place to close your eyes for a few minutes. Physical movement or finding a quiet place to regain your balance can help.