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Managing stress is crucial, and it’s important to educate the entire family on stress management to uphold peace and harmony within the household.

The Essence of Joint Family Living

Joint families are families comprising of grand-parents, their children and grand-children, all residing together. In some families, there are aunts /uncles/ cousins/their children, who are also a part of the family. In other words, an extended family, being a complete support system, where members share the household responsibilities, as well as preserving their culture and providing financial stability in addition to social interactions.  So many members, having different temperaments, residing together in peace and harmony, is admirable, though at times, difficult to manage.

“What greater blessing to give thanks for at a family gathering, than the family and the gathering“

In the olden days, i.e. 1970’s in India, many joint families had a family run business which was managed by all the men of the family, while the women cared for the home and children. The women, in those times, were content at home, quite unlike the modern women of today. An example being the Gujarati and Marwadi (Marwari) families in Kolkata, where the family business is run by the present and upcoming generations.

Harmony at Home: Managing Family Stress

Managing such a large family is no mean task. There has to be a synchronization among the members and delegation of work, to ensure the smooth functioning. There are going to be stressful moments like a demise or a family gathering or a marriage/divorce, a pregnancy, a miscarriage, business loss, financial instability, illness, arguments, concerns regarding the education / expenses /health / upbringing of the children, lifestyle changes or any other allied events. This is where stress management comes in.    

It is imperative to manage stress and teach the family too, so that the peace and harmony of the family are not disturbed in any way. Stress, if not addressed, can lead to chronic stress , which suppresses the immune system, increases blood sugar and blood pressure levels and elevate underlying conditions such as anxiety and depression.


These are a few methods in which stress can be controlled to alleviate its effects. Stress does not completely disappear but we can make sure to mitigate its effects on us and our family.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE : The first step is to acknowledge, accept and manage your stress. Do not hide or deny that stress is afoot. Once you acknowledge it, then accept it as a situation that has to be effectively dealt with and take all the remedial measures for the same.  
  • INDICATIONS : Next is to identify the indications that are resultant to stress. What do you or your family members feel when stressed ? Angry, forgetful ? Quiet? Resentful ? Probe your family members for any such indications and ask them to do the same for you. It has been seen that others can quickly latch on to the feeling that there is something amiss.
  • COMMUNICATION: Once you observe something, then the next step is to communicate and find out the reason/solution. Communicate to any close family member that there is a situation that requires handling. They will definitely assist you towards finding a solution. Teach the children to approach their parents/sibling/or family member they are most comfortable with, to assist them. The children should be taught to speak up for any issues bothering them and not keep any secrets.  They should be taught to communicate their feelings without ant fear.

    Once the children confide their fears, we need to be patient with them and explain how the situation can be effectively tackled.

  • LISTENING : Be a patient listener. Let the family member who is stressed, speak his/her/their heart out. Listen, without making any judgements, and encourage the member to get rid of all that is preying on their mind. Once the matter is out in the open, you can jointly think of ways and means to sort it out.
  • KEEP CHILDREN AWAY : In the event, there is an argument or difference of opinion between the family members, ensure that the children are kept out of ear’s length, so that they do not witness the argument and stress. Children are easily influenced and therefore it is advisable to keep them away from any stressful situations.
  • FAMILY TIME: To alleviate any stressful situation, opt for spending some family time to dissipate the same. Indulge in Karaoke, dumb charades, board games, sporting activities, picnics, art and craft sessions, reading/acting/singing/dancing sessions, watching movies, camping, or any activities that can make you feel better.
  • MINDFULNESS : Teach your family to practice mindfulness and breathing techniques. At times it helps a lot by just closing your eyes and concentrating on your breathing. Tell yourself “All is well” with each breath, and over a period of time you will notice the difference. Continue the deep breathing on a regular basis which will equip you to easily calm down in times of stress. Yoga is another form that can promote wellness and mindfulness at the same time.
Image: Pixabay
  • LAUGHTER : Laughing is a stress-buster. Teach your family to watch humorous content, crack jokes, play simple pranks, play fun games, laugh as this reduces stress to quite an extent.
  • HAPPINESS: “ In every life, we have some trouble,

               But when you worry, you make it double,

               Don’t worry, be happy, Don’t worry, be happy now”

              “Cause when you worry your face will frown

                And that will bring everybody down

                So don’t worry, be happy”

sang Bobby McFerrin.  These lines resonate with us today also. We need to be happy and keep our family happy. Every problem has a solution, we just need to look at it from another angle. It is a priceless feeling when you see your parents regaling your children with your childhood tales or when your children teach your parents (their grand- parents) how to navigate a smart phone.  These small pleasures make life worthwhile.  

  • HEALTH : Promote healthy eating, adequate liquid intake, exercise and sound sleep patterns to remain in the pink of health. After all, health is wealth. If all the family members are healthy, then there is less scope of illness in the family. Schedule regular health checkups for your family. The atmosphere in your home should be such that none of the family members should even think of indulging in smoking/alcohol/drug-substance abuse/physical self-harm/abuse as a means to relieve their stress. Happiness, love, safety, concern, trust and warmth should be the base of your family.
  • SOLACE : Offer solace to your family by being compassionate and proving moral support to them. Sometimes a hug does wonders ! Show your family that you are together through thick or thin.
  • TRUST : There should be mutual trust in any relationship. Trust, in a family, is of utmost importance. The family members should trust each other so as to confide their feelings, fears, emotions, thoughts to any member/s or the entire family. This is necessary to prevent them from seeking solace in undesirable habits like smoking, alcohol etc.
  • EXPRESSING FEELINGS : Encourage your family to express themselves. If they are feeling sad, nervous, anxious, whatever, tell them that they have every right to feel the emotion that they are going through. Let them get it out of their system. After all, humans have the right to feel and express their thoughts and emotions.
  • PRIORITIZE : Keep in mind that you may have to change your priorities, forgetting about your personal stress. Eg.  You are stressed about work, when your daughter happily shares that she has been selected for the basketball match. You will, at once, forget about your stress, and accompany her to her basketball practice and cheer for her at her match. See, how you changed your priority from yourself to your daughter. Similarly, when faced with any instance related to a family member, you will give preference to them. After all, there will be time enough later for sorting out your work stress.

  •  CONTROL : As BK Sister Shivani says we need to concentrate on things are within our control, rather than fretting about things which are beyond our control. Eg. If a family member says something upsetting, do not retaliate ! Rather, listen to the person, keep quiet and once the person is calm, voice your opinion on the subject. This may lead to a mutual understanding. If you choose to retaliate, then that will lead to an argument and no one will benefit by the same. What you do is within your control. Be your own master. Do not let others control your feelings.

  • SHARING : Sharing is caring, as they say. We should teach our children to share their treats/ toys/books/ belongings with their siblings/cousins/friends. They need to be taught the importance of sharing with others. This will make them the realise the joy of giving to others. This will prove to beneficial to them in the long run.

  • LOVE : Last but not the least, love your family. Teach your children to respect elders and love the youngsters. Love is a positive emotion and makes you happy and feel as though you are on top of the world.

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them”-

Life is a challenge and it is up to us to face it in the best way possible. After all, stress is like an uncalled visitor. Here today, gone tomorrow, only to emerge again the day after. We cannot let it let it rule our lives. Life is simple, we just complicate it by over-thinking and stressing. We need focus on our family and their happiness and wellness on priority basis. Relationships and family are of utmost importance to us. Material objects are just objects that we use to ease our life journey. We don’t want our Epitaph to read “here lies a billionaire, who had innumerable properties, immense wealth and great fortune”. On the contrary, it should read “ here lies a good human being, who cared for and loved her family and humanity alike”. So, which is your Epitaph ??

‘Family is not an important thing. It’s everything”

the aartery chronicles

Ms Rupal Sonpal

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