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8 Ways to Take Care of Yourself So Your Family Doesn't Think You're Always 'Galit'
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  • You've done it a few times — getting mad about something and then taking it out on someone else, even your family. Take Len Cofreros, 38, for example whose husband got the brunt of her anger that confused him.

    "My daughter was less than a year old then. I would get mad at my husband, and he would be puzzled each time because he didn't really do anything wrong," she shares. "I then realized that it's not him who was making me tense and anxious. I was a new mom, and I had all hese new chores I could not finish, add that to my lack of sleep. I was overthinking things, pushing myself too much, thinking I could do and finish everything. But that just stressed me out."

    Most of us have experienced feeling overwhelmed by something, and then taking it out on the first person we see at home. Explains psychiatrist Vanessa Cainghug M.D., "Displaced stress or anger is when the source of your tenson is somewhere else, like the office for example, but you express your feelings to people (like family or children at home) remote from the environment causing your stress. Most of the time it is anxiety, but the family will perceive it as anger."

    While it's normal to feel out of control sometimes, allowing this to happen regularly can eventually take its toll on the thing that matters most: your relationship with your family. "[Your] partner will feel alienated, and [your] children might develop anxiety, depression, or mood problems. The worst outcome will be separation," says Dr. Cainghug.

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    Aside from wreaking havoc on your personal life, stress and the inability to manage and channel it properly causes damage to your body, too. Stress can lead to a myriad of illnesses, and lowers the body's resistance or immunity to diseases. 

    Here are a few ways to manage your stress:

    1. Identify your stressors.

    The first step to facing your problems is clearly identifying them. "As you identify the stressors in your life, think about which cannot be avoided, and what changes you can do to lessen their impact," says author Rex Gatto in his book Controlling Stress. Identifying what's making you feel anxious will help you pinpoint, face, change, solve, and maybe avoid problems next time. This way you won't always have to walk around looking for an unsuspecting target to take your frustrations out on. 

    2. Let off steam and talk.

    Find a way to release your pent-up feelings without hurting another person physically or emotionally. You can talk to someone about it. "Verbalizing your feelings brings out pent-up energy and is therapeutic," says John Newman in his book How to Stay Calm and Collected When the Pressure's On. Make a phone call, text, chat. When you're done taking your initial anger out, you can even calmly talk to the person causing you stress so you can both figure things out.

    3. Get some sleep.

    Getting quality zz's can do wonders for your body and sanity. Writes Newman, "Not getting good sleep is a major contributor to burnout (physical and mental). Without sufficient sleep, people become irritable—tempers flare fast, and out-of-control behavior is common."

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    4. Spend some me-time.

    Moms will often say that there's no time for it. But, says Newman, "Having fun is a requirement for recharging your body, mind, and spirit; for maintaining a proper sense of balance and control in your life."

    5. Engage in physical activity.

    When you experience stress, your body goes through a set of human stress responses, which is biologically meant to be used up in physical activity. Your body is basically getting geared up for a fight-or-flight response. Says Newman, "This is a time to move...to relieve the body of stress." You can engage in activities like swimming, running, dancing, biking, which will use up pent-up stress products [and] get rid of all the stress toxins in your system which make you feel irritable and temperamental.

    6. Meditate.

    Meditation is a great method to clear the mind of all the clutter and the negative thoughts that are causing you anxiety. It detoxifies the mind, flushes out frustrations, and gives you a different perspective in a stressful situation. What's great about it is that it's inexpensive and can be done almost anywhere. 

    7. Write about it. 

    Talking about one's problems can be hard for some people. Writing them down instead of keeping them "unsaid" is helpful in releasing emotions. Says author Daniel Girdano in the book Controlling Stress and Tension, "Just expressing your feelings [through writing] about the situation will help alleviate stress."

    8. Develop a stress management plan.

    This involves a certain level of introspection—asking yourself questions and writing down the answers so you can figure out your next plan of action. List down your goals for self-improvement, identify your stress symptoms, and list all your stressors. And the most important part: write down how you plan to respond to each stressor next time. Keep this "manual" and refer to it the next time you feel overwhelmed with a problem. 


    Managing stress essentially involves reminding yourself about your priorities and focusing on them, so you don't expose your mind and body to prolonged anxiety, or your family to explosive outbursts.

    This story originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Good Housekeeping Philippines magazine.

    Minor edits have been made by the SmartParenting.com.ph editors.

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