No matter who you are, it’s inevitable that you will have to deal with stress in your life at some point. If you’re a single parent, that stress is usually greatly compounded. Stress has the power to slow us down or even hold us back, neither of which a single parent can afford. So what do you do?

We all have different methods of dealing with the various stressors in our lives. The fancy title for them is “coping mechanisms.” Unfortunately, not all coping mechanisms are created equal. In fact, some can be downright harmful. To help you better deal with some of the stress in your life, we’d like to offer some healthy coping mechanisms you can integrate into your routine and some unhealthy coping mechanisms to be avoided at all costs.

Unhealthy – Substance Abuse

This one is pretty obvious, but also vitally important. Despite the temporary feeling of euphoria, substance abuse does nothing to actually deal with the root causes of your stress. Moreover, it often leads to even more stress in the long run, both physically and emotionally. Addiction is cruel and hurts not only you, but those around you. If you’re a single parent, you’re all your kid has. It’s not worth it.

Healthy – Writing to Your Problems

You’d be amazed at how cathartic getting your feelings on paper can be. It forces you to organize your thoughts in a way that can be beneficial. If you’re angry or afraid, it provides an outlet that prevents you from lashing out at those around you. No one even needs to know. Consider it a free therapy session you can have any time you like.

Healthy – Exercise

Not everyone loves to exercise but the benefits are undeniable. There’s more to the positive effects than simply looking good, feeling the burn, and expelling energy that might come out in destructive ways otherwise. Depression is not only an issue perspective, it has physical and chemical effects on your brain that are beyond your control. When you exercise, your body releases positive chemicals called endorphins that produce a ‘natural high’. It’s a win-win situation… If you can convince yourself to do it.

Healthy – Count to Ten

If you’re busy it, can be hard to carve out time for the more extensive coping mechanisms. While you should definitely still try, there’s one technique that only takes ten seconds, well, actually more 30 seconds, but it’s still quick. It seems like such an insignificant thing, but the effects of taking yourself out of a situation and just letting the world stop for the time it takes you to count to ten is quite powerful. It allows you the time to look at a situation and act accordingly instead of reacting reflexively. Simply count slowly to ten. Count down, count up, whichever feels better to you. You can even pick a different number, but when you’re done, be ready to jump back into whatever is going on with a clear head.

Unhealthy – Avoidance

This is perhaps the most insidious of them all. Some people, when overwhelmed, fall into a conceit that they will just avoid whatever their problem is and it will either wreck their life or it won’t. This is a dangerous and unnecessary game. It’s rare that a problem is solved by not dealing with it. Lean on your support systems, tackle the problem little by little. Whatever it takes, just don’t give up.

If you know of other coping mechanisms that can help other single parents, please let us know in the comments. Good luck everyone!