Stress in motherhood is par for the course. In my work with moms in the therapy hour and person experience after almost two decades of mothering, one thing is for sure; stress is part of the landscape of motherhood.
Stress in and of itself is not necessarily a negative or ‘bad’ thing. At its core, stress is the push behind getting a task, chore or behavior completed. Stress often motivates us to move toward achieving a goal or obligation.
I want you to imagine stress on a continuum, meaning, there are many degrees and intensities of experiencing stress. On one end of the continuum is distress, or stress that becomes so overwhelming, that it takes away from health and well-being. On the other end is eustress, or super positive events-enhancing our life-often short in intensity but can create stress nonetheless. The bottom line, stress occurs throughout life, especially in motherhood, and can be categorized as seen as a range of stress in terms of intensity and duration.
Here is what I want you to ask yourself:
- How do you know when you are stressed?
- What are the signs you are distressed? Or when stress is negatively impacting your well-being
- How you take care of yourself, others and add in enjoyment and fun to your daily life?
The first step to taking care of your stress is to know the signs and symptoms of when stress is taking a toll on your health and well-being. Once you identify what is contributing to stress and how it presents for you, then you can move into managing stress with skills and strategies.
Here are some suggestions on how to manage stress in motherhood:
1. Prioritize Sleep. Making sleep a priority is the foundation of physical health and wellbeing. Sleep deprivation can increase stress, irritability and make everyday tasks and responsibilities feel more overwhelming. Getting enough sleep to feel rested and restored is a great way to manage stress.
2. Exercise. No surprise, exercise is a great way to manage stress, boost mood and increase energy. So many moms feel tired and overwhelmed, making exercise feel like a chore. But the reality is, exercise, even in small amounts every day, add up to increase health and well-being and reduce stress. Challenge yourself to exercise daily, even if its only for a fifteen to twenty-minute walk and notice the improvements you feel.
3. Reach Out for Support. Being able to ask for help, whether it be in a tangible way, such as sharing the mental load of chores and childcare with your partner, or talking out some concerns you have with a friend or counselor is an important skill to remember when stressed. Isolation can increase stress. Reaching out for support is a crucial skill when stressed and/or distressed can help to reduce stress.
4. Schedule Fun. The days of motherhood can be filled with tasks, chores and productivity. An important skill to help decrease stress is to schedule fun, enjoyable activities into your every day routine. We are not meant to be productive every minute of the day. However, as a culture and society, we are being shaped this way, being available to everyone at all times. Over-ride this demand by taking breaks to rest, restore and have fun, and when you do, I am sure you will notice how your stress levels go down.
5. Keep a Sense of Humor. Laughing, sharing humorous stories and finding the lighter side of motherhood is a great way to relieve stress and tension. When you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, make an effort to take a deep breath, step back from the situation and try to find the humor in what you are experiencing.
6. Spend Quality Time with Your Family. Motherhood is not solely about taking care of children, in contrast, its juggling the demands of work, home and managing a family. If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed, ask yourself, ‘When was the last time I had quality time with my family, enjoying their company, bonding and creating memories?’ If its been a while or you can’t remember when, then you are long overdue to spend time enjoying the beautiful family and life you’ve created.
I hope these ideas inspire you to manage your stress and would love to hear your suggestions and go-to activities to manage stress in motherhood!
If you want to learn more in depth on how to manage stress in motherhood and thrive, be sure to check out our amazing Thriving Mama Community through the online video course: From Surviving to Thriving: Create Your Thriving Mama Mode with Joy, Calm and Happiness, by clicking the link. We’d love to have you join this supportive and amazing community!
© Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2019