Studies have shown our relationship with our kids is largely dependent on our ability to manage stress, so it's in our best interest to take care of ourselves by effectively managing stress. This is easier said than done. Many of us are working mothers, extremely busy, everyday parent worries, and countless external pressures we face each day.
Here are 6 strategies to help you manage your stress better.
- Learn what the signs of stress are for you. Oftentimes when we get in stressful situations, we notice our blood pressure rising, our heart rate going up, we might feel our chest pounding or even getting a little dizzy. Take notice when feeling these physical signs or when you mood changes – your body is trying to tell you something.
- Identify times of the day most stressful for you and your family. What are your hot buttons? For example, in the morning when you're getting all of your kids off to school, or at night when you're cooking dinner. Sometimes our lack of planning makes us stressed, and then that passes along to our children. So if we plan ahead and we're prepared for those times - maybe like setting out clothes the night before, there's things you can do to prep for breakfast the night before at dinner time, choosing options that are going to be more time-effective for you and your family.
- It's important to take a break and decompress. Sometimes we need this, and it's okay. Don't feel like a guilty mom if you have to go somewhere by yourself for just 5 or 10 minutes, make sure your kids are safe, walk away and just decompress, do something for yourself. Try deep abdominal breathing, progressive relaxation techniques, meditation and prayer. These things have proven to relax us and give us greater perspective so that we're better equipped to handle the challenges in life. And better yet, teach these strategies to your older children too.
- Exercise, and this is something that you can do as a family. Pick an activity that you all enjoy doing, and maybe you can rotate and let each family member pick what it's going to be for the day, whether it be walking, jogging, biking, swimming. Exercise has definitely been proven to relax us and help us cope with stress.
- Find a good support group. This could be just other girlfriends, other moms that are in similar situations, maybe older women who have been through it before and can offer perspective and wisdom on your situation, maybe it's a formal support group. Either way, make it a group of people that you feel very comfortable with, you're able to share your candid feelings, and receive positive and constructive feedback for your situation.
- This one is a favorite - take time to laugh. When's the last time you had a good belly-laugh with your kids? Look them in the eye when they're talking to you. Use humor to diffuse stressful situations. Studies have shown we actually hold a lot of tension in our faces, and a good laugh can help to release that and make us forget about all the things that we were stressed about before.
Imagine, if it makes us feel this way, how do our kids feel when we react this way to them, and they're the innocent bystanders, and we're just reacting to our stress.
Or maybe instead of cooking a huge meal when you already have 10 other places to be running your kids that night, just go out to eat, and reduce the amount of stress that you have, and increase the time you have to spend with your kids.
I'm a mother, myself, and try to balance everything that moms have to do everyday between housework, and work, and taking kids everywhere, helping with homework. It can be a little bit overwhelming and easy to just focus on all of the tasks that we have to do everyday. But if we are able to manage our stress better and keep perspective on what's most important, we'll be able to spend more quality time with our kids and make happy memories.
If you’re interested in how other moms have handled the stresses of being a mom or just interested in sharing motherly advice join the Intermountain Moms Facebook page.