At some point, all moms feel that overwhelming dread and stress that happens because you have the responsibility of an entire family resting on your shoulders. You're under constant demand, both physically and emotionally, and it feels like you worry about your kids all the time.
The problem is, feeling overwhelmed is a vicious cycle - it diminishes your ability to function and take care of everyone else's needs. It's kind of like being on an airplane when the oxygen masks drop in an emergency - you have to put on your own mask before you can take care of others. Here are five ideas that can help you breathe a little easier.
First, recognize the symptoms of stress
Sometimes stress can sneak up on you. You may not even recognize it's happening until you start experiencing physical or emotional symptoms. Learn how to recognize signs of stress in yourself. Common signs include:
- Lapses in judgment
- Increased heart rate (makes you feel dizzy)
- Speaking louder or yelling
Your children pick up on your stress symptoms, even if you don't. They recognize when you aren't yourself and it can impact them. The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to learn to recognize when you're under stress and find effective coping mechanisms.
Second, take a break
Despite what you may think, it's not bad to take a break. When you start feeling your stress levels rising, find a way to take a time out. Your break doesn't need to be long. Usually five or 10 minutes is enough to cool down and gain some perspective. Make sure your kids are safe for a short time, then listen to your favorite song, work through some breathing exercises, or just simply hide in the bathroom until you feel better.
If your kids are older, come up with a signal that lets your family know when you need a 10-minute break. Not only will you get the break you need, but you'll be showing your children healthy ways to deal with stress.
Third, identify especially stressful times
Even the best-run household has regular stressful moments. For your family, it might be getting everyone out the door each morning. So instead of suffering through the stress of the morning rush every day, think of ways to make your mornings run smoother. Prepare breakfast and pack lunches the night before. Set out clothes, backpacks, and keys so everyone knows where to find their things. Thinking about your routine and how you can make it less stressful might make a huge difference for your entire day.
Fourth, reach out for support
The saying, "It takes a village to raise a child" is true. You can't do it all on your own. Reach out for support from family and friends. If you feel the need, join a support group for parents. Reaching out for support will give you the physical and emotional help you need to cope with the stressful times that inevitably come as a parent.
Fifth, find the fun
Although it might feel like parenting is all stress, a lot of fun also comes with raising kids. Find fun every day. Laugh. Dance with your kids in the kitchen. Tell silly jokes. Fun helps curb stress and creates lasting memories.
The stress of motherhood can leave anyone feeling overwhelmed. But taking time to care for yourself will allow you to better care for your family.