“I know I’m not alone in feeling this way but I’m more stressed than ever and there’s no end in sight. We’ve all been juggling a lot in the past two years. Work, kids, schooling and aging parents are the tip of the iceberg. I’m trying to keep my kids happy, my parents safe and healthy and my relationship with my partner strong. I also have my job, my self-care and my peace of mind that I am doing my best to maintain. But I’m not doing a great job at balancing it all.
Can you offer any suggestions for managing stress that comes with keeping so many plates spinning?”
– A local mom
Thank you for writing in. I’m so glad you reached out. Your timing couldn’t be any better as we are currently in April, Stress Awareness Month. According to Medline Plus, “Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. It’s the body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.”
In managing all the pressures of life, stress is probably at the top of the list. We cannot wish or hope it away. Stress must be managed and dealt with, but we can also learn how to use it as fuel. As mentioned in the Medline Plus definition, in short bursts it can be positive. If you find that your stress is long-lasting, consider speaking with a mental health professional.
In the meantime, here are a few tips for managing stress:
1. Know Thyself –
It’s important to know how you respond in stressful situations and what triggers you. The next time you are feeling stressed, make a note as to how you respond: what are you thinking/feeling at the moment? The goal here is to slow down the fight or flight response and use the adrenaline from stress to gain information about yourself.
2. Leave Supermom in the dust –
The goal of perfection is going to rob you of your peace. Set aside the “S” and allow yourself and your family to experience real life instead of striving for the perfect environment. Minimize comparing yourself to others, maximize your own family experience and the atmosphere you wish to create in your home. No two mothers will have the same motherhood journey. And that’s fine.
3. Enjoy the Journey –
We hear all the time how quickly time passes. As parents, we know this better than most. Develop the ability to laugh at yourself and keep things light when you can. Don’t let every cup of spilled milk be a big deal. Make time for you. Mom is “a” hat you wear, not “the” only hat you wear. Allow yourself a moment to pause and take it all in. Look for something to be grateful for every morning your feet hit the floor and say it out loud. It can change the trajectory of your day.
And with that, once you identify what your stress triggers are, have a strategy or plan for how to turn that adrenaline in to fuel. For each of us, the trigger may be different. Use that to gain intel on yourself and how you can shift the pressure of stress to being an asset for you and your family.
When stress arises, we can either ride the wave of it or attempt to suppress it. Research shows that the latter simply delays the inevitable. Stress must be acknowledged in order to be managed.
Let me know how these tips help you. I’d love to share a follow-up story. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.