Restlessness
and not being able to relax are the first signs of stress. Your baby is a
little more fussy than usual for no obvious reason. Toddlers and preschoolers
have more trouble getting along with each other. Younger children are
irritable, cannot find anything to do, and expect you to give them all your
attention. Your teen is in a mood but either will not or cannot tell you what
is wrong. You do not care and wish people would just leave you alone. Part of
you wants to fix it and the other part wishes they would all disappear.


You cannot concentrate on anything or anyone. Your thoughts
are jumbled and you are up-tight and frustrated. Your uneasiness will not go
away. You are afraid and angry at the same time; and if you get control of it
or them or yourself, you think you will feel better.


Others in your family are having trouble too. They are
unhappy. You cannot quite put your finger on why but know all is not well. They
are preoccupied and unhappy with everyone and everything; and nothing you or
anyone else does helps.


Stress is taking its toll. You are anxious, frustrated, and
resent people who are so overly sensitive and touchy. Stress wraps around you
and is hard to shake off, whatever you do, wherever you go. Fear and
resentment, anger and frustration are just there. Maybe you know why, but
probably not.


Stress exhausts you. You are not loosing the struggle but
are not quite winning either. The outcome is anyone’s guess. If you had a
crystal ball telling you everyone will be fine, you would be okay. Even better
to know it will not take very long.  You
would settle for being sure it will not get worse. Not knowing, not having
control, and fearing even less control are at the heart of your family’s
stress.


You are a little up-tight or perhaps your fear overwhelms
you. You are irritable or maybe your anger is nearing an explosion. You are
tired or on the verge of collapsing. Whether a little or a lot, stress is
scary, frustrating, and draining.


“Get a good night’s sleep. You will feel better in the
morning.” This sounds like good advice. You may still be up-tight and
frustrated but at least you will not be so exhausted.


Here is the catch. If you get to sleep, stress awakens you
and does not let you go back to sleep. At times, you cannot get to sleep at
all. Whether you cannot sleep or are awake listening to your spouse or your
child toss and turn, stress has come to live with you and your family.


Stress also causes bad dreams and nightmares. Bad things
happen. The world is strange. In your dreams, you may do weird things, more
bizarre than anything you ever thought about. Your dream lets you know how out
of control you feel down deep inside. Stress keeps you on-edge. Headaches, an
upset stomach, and generally not feeling well may be caused by stress. Other
problems might be the cause; but stress is often the culprit. Crying very
easily or times when you cannot stop crying also are signs your stress is
getting out of hand. Loosing your temper quickly and easily or getting angry
about things that normally do not bother you are certain signs of too much
stress and too little control.


Is stress getting the upper hand in your family? Here is the
fact of it. Problem stress is not a condition your family has and others avoid.
Stress gets the best of all families on some days and threatens to pull the
family apart at times. The question is whether you recognize your family’s
stress, see what it can do and is doing, and whether you manage it successfully
or let it do you in.