STRESS isn't bad in itself. Without stress we would be motivated to do little or nothing. Life would just pass by. The issue is one of control. When we feel in control of our stress, the effect is healthy and productive. But allowing stress to accumulate, to build to the point where it controls us, is painful and unhealthy.

Life passes too quickly. The children grow up too fast. There's not enough time for fun, for making memories. The years are running out for doing all they had dreamed of in their youth. If this is life, what a disappointment it has turned out to be!

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Turn stress into a friend instead of an enemy. Families who are stress-effective accept stress as an inevitable fact of life. Stress is life that's all.

When stress intensifies, remind yourself that family problems don't mean you have failed. They are normal part of life. Some you can anticipate, like tax worries and frustration over moody adolescents. Others catch you by surprise, like an extended illness or a job layoff. Certain stress you can do something about; others you have to accept and live with.

Stress-effective families spend their energy seeking solutions to difficulties rather than feeling guilty or passing blame.

Times of stress can then become stepping-stones to identifying family strengths, to growing in the coping skills that prepare the family for future challenges, and to gaining an emerging sense of family esteem.

As families become more and more stressed, a healthy diet, adequate exercise, plenty of rest, fresh air and sunshine are more essential than ever for good health. Playtime - for couples, for parents, for children - has never been more important.

Plan every effort to keep schedules sane and to control encroachment of work on family time. Make daily lists of the four or five most crucial things to be done on a given day, then rank them from highest to lowest and complete them in that order. Manage involvement outside the home so as to nurture a spirit of service in each family member.

Central to the emotional health of every human being are good relationships with others. Over the long haul, our only relationship with God and with each other provides lasting satisfaction in life.

The wise family cultivates a strong relationship with God. Families are more likely to communicate when they are together-working, playing, worshiping.

There will be moments of laughter, moments of pain. Times to apologize times, to forgive. Times when our lives match our dreams, and times when we are frustrated to despair.

But this is life, God's way of telling us we are alive and kicking.

Annaliza D. Musngi

Teacher II, Laug Elementary School