GUEST COMMENTARY: Parents, too, need relief from back-to-school stress

2013-08-31T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Parents, too, need relief from back-to-school stressBy Katie S. Brown nwitimes.com
August 31, 2013 12:00 am  • 

As Hoosiers focus on back-to-school activities, parents may experience stress over another school year.

Fitting in time to help with homework, attend sporting events, and furnish transportation, along with the expense of school supplies and clothes, can cause anxiety. There’s also the challenge of helping children adjust socially to a new setting, new people and normal growing pains.

For parents who experience stress as the school year gears up, there are a wide variety of recommendations on how to manage – even end – stress. Many of these recommendations point to a spiritual approach to handling this common mental or emotional strain from demanding circumstances.

Proven spiritual stress relievers include to pray often, express gratitude and be optimistic.

Parents who are optimists believe in themselves and their abilities, and they expect good things to happen. This can reduce or eliminate their stress. To them the glass is always half full not half empty. 

Studies show those who regularly attend religious services are more optimistic. Dr. Roberta Lee, author of The Super Stress Solution, notes, “Research shows that people who are more religious or spiritual use their spirituality to cope with life.” Among the research she cites, a study of Canadian adult college students, connected to their college ministries, who were better equipped at handling stress.

Some doctors say hope is the ultimate stress reliever. Shane Lopez, author of “Making Hope Happen," says, “Hope may buffer us from stress, anxiety, and the effects of negative life events.” Researchers have identified that attending to spirituality, activated through religious, spiritual and other contemplative practices, is a pathway to hope. 

Harold Koenig, M.D., associate professor of medicine and psychiatry at Duke University, found through research for his book, “Handbook of Religion and Health,” that faith gives people hope.

It follows that parents with a spiritual foundation experience greater hope, and that can help them relieve or end stress. These words of American Poet John Greenleaf Whittier helped me find peace when the stress of a new school year seemed overwhelming.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from us now the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace. 

Katie S. Brown, of Fort Wayne, writes regularly about spirituality and health. She is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher and the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Indiana. The opinions are the writer's.

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