While motherhood can bring joy, love, and countless gifts to your life, the commitment to support and nurture another human being from infancy to adulthood (and beyond!) can cause significant amounts of stress. While each mother will face unique challenges, many stressors are universal. These can include time demands, finances, relationship challenges with your spouse, protecting your children, self-doubt, and finding time for yourself, just to name a few. On top of all that, many moms these days are working mothers or have other responsibilities outside of motherhood, adding more layers of stress.
Unchecked stress levels can significantly impact your physical and mental health. It can also have a negative impact on your relationship with your children and spouse. Learning to manage your stress will improve your well-being and give you the patience, energy, and perspective to be the best parent you can be. Here are five strategies to help you better manage your stress.
1. Learn your stress signs
Learning to tune into your body and recognize how you react to stress can play an important role in stress management. Common signs of stress include an increased heart rate, speaking louder or yelling, feeling frustrated, irritable, or impatient, or experiencing lapses in judgment. When you notice these signs of stress, stop what you’re doing and immediately take a few deep breaths. While you might not be able to remove yourself from the situation, you can likely step away for a few minutes until you feel more calm. Regularly doing this whenever you start to notice your stress signs will prevent you from reaching the point where you’re completely overwhelmed.
2. Create solutions for times that are typically stressful
Stress often mounts at predictable times during the day—when you’re getting your kids ready for school or around dinnertime, for example. Preemptively creating solutions for problems that regularly arise during these “hot” times can help to reduce the stress you feel in the moment. For example, if mornings are stressful because your daughter can never decide (or find) what to wear, lay out an outfit for her the night before.
3. Move your body
Numerous studies demonstrate that exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Moving your body and getting your heart rate up increases endorphins, improves mood, relieves tension, and improves sleep. If you can’t get away for a solo run, gym session, or exercise class, find a way to exercise with your kids. They could bike alongside you as you walk or run, or if they’re really little, you could push them in a stroller as you walk or run. You could also research if there is a workout group for moms in your area. 4. Find a support system
Supportive relationships help to reduce stress and restore balance. Talking with other moms, in particular, can significantly reduce your anxiety and make you feel less alone. Find an in-person or virtual support group with other moms or seek out a therapist to discuss your feelings and experiences.
5. Schedule date nights and time for yourself
As a mother, you devote so much time to the needs of your family that you probably forget to take time for your social needs as well. Whether it’s going out for a date night with your spouse, meeting a girlfriend for lunch, or partaking in an activity you love by yourself, be sure to schedule time to spend with those you love and care for.
There’s a reason that flight attendants remind us to put on our oxygen masks first. You can’t take care of your family unless you take care of yourself. Mothers are notorious for putting their needs on the backburner, but finding ways to manage your stress and care for yourself is absolutely necessary for your well-being and that of your family. By regularly applying the above tips, you’ll be supporting the happiness of your entire family, including yourself.
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