Stress on a family can come from different sources and take many forms. Some stress is internal to the family, such as domestic violence. Other stressors are external. Sources outside of the home could be situations like unemployment or poverty. Regardless of the source, stress is a risk factor for child abuse and neglect. It is not always possible to eliminate the stressors in our lives, especially those that are long-term in nature or coming from multiple sources. However, there are things we can do to alleviate the toll of stress. This would in turn minimize the risk of stress leading to abuse and neglect. We can learn to calm our bodies and brains. We can also incorporate supports into our lives that allow us to better cope with stress. The following is a list of seven “stress busters” presented by PACEs Connection and Aces Aware. Incorporate these suggestions into your life and your family’s life to prevent stress, thereby preventing potential abuse and neglect.
    • Support Relationships Connect with supportive friends and family; Get involved in your community; Explore supportive relationships at work.
    • Quality Sleep Create a calm bedtime routine; Implement a sleep schedule; Avoid electronics, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime.
    • Balance Nutrition Go easy on sugar; Include a variety of healthy foods in your diet; Eat meals at a relaxed pace.
    • Physical Activity Take walks; Schedule times to stretch throughout the day; Find fun ways to move.
    • Mindfulness Practice Take time to breathe slowly and deeply; Reflect on gratitude; Try a mindfulness app.
    • Experience Nature Go outside every day; Breathe fresh air; Look up at the sky.
    • Mental Healthcare Minimize upsetting news content; Talk with your family about how everyone is feeling.
In addition to these tips, remember that you can always reach out for help! If you feel like you or someone in your family is in crisis, call 9-8-8 to talk to someone at the national suicide and crisis lifeline. ***** April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the Virginia Child Abuse & Neglect Hotline at (800) 552-7096. The hotline is staffed 24/7. You may make a call anonymously, but if you provide your name it will allow local authorities to follow-up with you.