Motherhood is bliss. It is amazing. Being a mother is the most precious gift.
Motherhood is also the most time-consuming, demanding and important job anyone in the world will ever have. Being a mom is also quite possibly the reason for those brief moments of insanity.
The family and children you love more than anything can also be the root cause of losing your mind on any given day.
Does it even count as motherhood if it weren’t for the occasional moments when you’re on the brink of going mad?
Which is exactly why it is so important to still scrounge up some time for yourself outside of motherhood.
For your sanity! And for the sake of those around you as well.
This doesn’t always mean just treating yourself to a mani/pedi and massage followed by a late lunch date with a friend.
Although, that sounds amazing to me right now.
This is more than just a relaxing bubble bath with no interruptions. Ha! As if that’s even a realistic scenario.
Sometimes self-care for mothers means making yourself a priority and paying attention to your own mental and physical needs first. This should come before your marriage, your job and even your children.
How you manage and deal with stress in your life can have impacts on you and your whole family.
Self care can be easily overlooked with the demands of life, a family, or a job, especially when you are a mom with little time – but it is important to care for your own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
This is what allows you to be the best possible version of yourself. Which you then can continue to give over to your family.
Self-care is vital to maintaining the capability to raise children and take care of your family.
How can you take care of others if you can’t take care of yourself?
Stress & Effects
Finding healthy ways to manage and handle stress in your life is at the core of self-care. Coping with stress in positive ways aids in mental and physical well-being for yourself and those closest to you.
Life is hard. Being a mother is hard.
Together these two journeys can result in some unbelievably challenging and stressful times.
When challenges arise, our bodies and minds naturally react even if we aren’t aware of it.
Stress can be defined as the body and mind’s reaction to these adverse situations and since every person has different reactions and capacities of what they tolerate, stress is very subjective.
In fact, scientists agree that the term “stress” is so subjective that is hard to simply interpret.
An interesting article was published in the American Institute of Stress (AIS), that says in 1936 a scientist named Hans Selye who studied stressors, defined stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”.
Your own body can have physical, emotional, or cognitive responses to these changes or “stressors,” as they are termed.
Motherhood is a part of life that changes you forever and can be stressful in and of itself. Alongside motherhood, life has its own responsibilities and independent demands of you.
A person’s situation, lifestyle, environment, or even positive experiences can all contribute to this response or feeling stress.
Unfortunately, as we get older and become parents, we take on more responsibilities and life tends to become full of additional obligations.
Sometimes stress comes in apparent phases that then ebb throughout your life as time goes on.
Major Life Experiences That Cause Stress:
- Death of a family member or close friend
- Illness of self, family member, or close friend
- Caring for someone elderly or sick
- Mental health or addiction problems of self, family member, or friend
- Financial burdens (bills, mortgages, debt, etc.)
- Job loss
- Demanding job
- Deadlines to meet
- Changing careers
- Constant to-do lists
- No down time
- Constant attention / catering to others (besides yourself and your family)
- Long distance move (or for me, selling your home or moving, in general)
In all honesty, there are endless examples due to the fact that it differs based on how an individual experiences their own situation.
Since stress is your body’s response to changes, it has guaranteed effects on your mind, body, and possibly your life.
Some of these effects are positive. For example, stress can increase productivity. It’s similar to the “fight-or-flight” concept, meaning stress can prepare you or your body for challenges ahead and increase endurance.
Although this is beneficial, more times than not, stress can impact a person in other ways as well.
Negative Effects Of Stress
Lack of sleep
Too much sleep
Poor eating habits (too little or too much)
Loss of interest in activities
Little pleasure in doing things
Negative or minimal social interaction
Antisocial / isolating oneself
Substance dependence or abuse
High blood pressure
Anger or aggression
Panic attacks / anxiety attacks
Physical aches and pains
All of these are negative effects felt not just by you, but these can be felt by those closest to you in one form or another.
As a mom, you most likely try and hide the stress you are feeling from your family but it is your responsibility to manage your own stress, and not by hiding it.
You can try to push it away or bury it deep inside of you while on the outside, you pretend that everything is fine. You can act playful and happy in front of your children while your worried mind races in a million different directions.
If this works, which sometimes it will, it is only temporary.
When stress is not managed, the unfortunate effects will inevitably surface and it most likely will not be pretty.
It could be in the form of having little patience and being short with your children and spouse. You might become distant. You’re there physically but your mind is at a completely different place.
If you pretend others aren’t aware or affected by your stress you are shorting yourself and others of the opportunity to overcome it. Once the presence of stress is apparent, you need to look for the best ways to personally cope with it.
Healthy Ways Moms Can Manage Stress
How you cope with stress in your life is a major part of a healthy self-care routine, which often must be learned or practiced.
Sometimes moms feel like it is part of their job to worry about everyone and everything and at the same time they want to protect their loved ones from feeling their worries – especially children, who aren’t even developmentally prepared to deal with the same stress that adults deal with.
While worrying does usually come with the role of motherhood, the focus should be shifted to how you actually deal with your stress or worries.
Your responsibility as a parent, is to find healthy ways to cope with the inevitable stress so it’s least likely to affect your family.
1. Keep Consistent Routines
Every mother knows that routines are your best friend. During stressful phases of life it’s important that our kids and family stick to as normal a routine as possible even when it might be challenging.
Having a regular morning or nightly routine for children gives everyone in the house a clear understanding of what needs to happen and when. This kind of order can make for a peaceful household when the last thing your family needs is more added stress.
A consistent routine helps children feel safe and secure and is a great way to stay grounded during difficult and stressful times.
2. Get Involved
When you focus on other activities outside of your own, it obviously serves as a distraction from your troubles.
However, when you get involved with other volunteer events, or charities or even just helping with your kids school, it can be rewarding in an unexpected sense.
It is a way to focus on bigger aspects of life outside of your own world.
This is a fantastic way to let go of your own issues and out that energy toward doing good and, besides, don’t they say the best way to help yourself is by helping others?
Literally. Just move! Get physical in whatever way you want.
This doesn’t just mean you need to hit the gym every day but instead find something you enjoy even if you just turn on some music and dance by yourself.
Take your pet for a walk, try a yoga or new fitness class, go for a swim, play a new sport with a friend like tennis or golf, or if you prefer to run or workout, then sign up for a race. Whatever ways make you move, keep it fun for yourself.
4. Find Support Outside of Your Family
Sometimes our partner or spouse is who we lean to. They can be our biggest support or even just listen. – but after a while it’s up to us to give them a break.
It is actually healthier for your relationship and family if you can find other areas or ways to get support. This is why there are specific support groups, therapy, or even just friends who can relate.
Sometimes, contrary to popular belief, it’s unfair to assume your partner or spouse has the answers to all of your needs. Finding support outside of your family, can be beneficial for all and can spare people we love most from being weighed down by our own burdens.
Not to say that people closest to us don’t help us the most. But just find the balance and make sure you have other support as well.
Both prayer and meditation are “contemplative practices” that can ease the mind and soul.
When you experience stress, your mind becomes overwhelmed. Meditation and prayer can significantly reduce stress, which is even scientifically proven by literally altering tissue surrounding the brain to protect it.
While prayer is religious, meditation can be spiritual or a mindful practice. Both require a bit of solitude or a calm environment to focus inward to a quiet and peaceful type of contemplation.
There are many different forms of meditation and the best way to learn what helps you most is by reading about it and practicing or join a bible study group and focus on prayer and faith.
Prayer and meditation can do wonders for coping with stress.
6. Find Something You Enjoy
Some things we do because we need to, like staying active or even just cooking dinner. Other things we do purely because we enjoy it.
It’s important to remember to adopt those certain activities that are less of an obligation and more just for your pleasure.
Maybe you enjoy reading, writing, yoga, or even cooking – and this doesn’t necessarily have to be a “hobby”. Just something that makes you laugh, smile, or just feel good.
Maybe you laugh most during brunch with friends. Then make it a point to get together regularly and make it a priority.
Doing something you genuinely enjoy helps you balance life’s responsibilities with life’s pleasures. When you experience simple joy and laughter, you are eliminating the effects of stress.
7. Educate Yourself
Whatever you do, don’t turn a blind eye to the cause of your stress. Sometimes facing an issue head-on instead, can be more beneficial than pretending it does not exist.
In some situations this means learn about what is stressing you out so you can adopt healthy ways to deal with it. Do your research. Knowledge is power.
When you educate yourself about something that is causing you stress, your brain will use that momentum and work with your stress to help you create ideas that could also be resolutions. For example, if an illness or a financial burden is causing you great stress, find out all you can about the illness or about finances.
There are so many resources literally at our fingertips these days, find ones you can trust and learn all you can. Once you have this knowledge, let’s say to relieve an enormous debt or to find an alternative treatment for an illness, you can find a certain relief in creating a solution.
Instead of worrying aimlessly it’s serves as a way to take control of the worry and stress.
You are what you eat. It’s not just a saying, it’s true.
Some foods make you more energetic, some foods make you more lethargic. It’s truth because what you put into your body can literally change brain chemistry, your moods, your physical health, the effects are endless.
It’s no wonder certain vitamins and nutrients can literally stop colds and illnesses in their tracks.
Nutrition not only fuels your body, but influences your mental well-being also.
Monitoring your nutrition to make sure you receive certain vitamins and nutrients can scientifically improve your body and mind.
Pay attention and learn about what you are putting into your body. You’re more likely to in easing stress than anything else you might attempt.
9. Delegate Tasks and Accept Help
This one can be hard for many parents – and rightfully so.
There is this mentality that exists of an unrealistic notion that moms should do it all.
Our society, being somewhat responsible, paints a picture of moms being able to “have it all” without considering the fact that leaves moms to “do it all”. You need to immediately squash that absurd expectation.
When you go through life and during times of stress, you need to lean on people around you who are there to offer support. You need to accept when they offer to pick up the kids or watch them for a few hours.
If they want to cook you a meal, graciously accept that. These people are in your life because they care about you.
10. Keep A Journal
Writing in a journal is a great way to release burdens from your mind. Writing allows you to quiet those thoughts from your mind by transferring them out of your head and onto paper.
For example, try keeping a notebook or journal next to your bed. If you wake up at night like a lot of people and your mind begins to actively engage in thoughts that keep you from sleep, write them down. It’s amazing how this can help transition your racing mind back to peaceful sleep.
Writing has recently even started to be used by psychologists and therapists for trauma and emotional healing purposes. Journal writing your thoughts or emotions can help you work through and relieve stress.
Another great example is to have a gratitude journal and write down what you are grateful for every day for a month. This tends to shift your mood and increase focus to positive aspects in your life which also aids in relieving stress.
When you think of self-care, remember that this also means taking care of yourself by managing your stress in the best ways possible.
Remember to make yourself a priority in the midst of juggling the kids, a job, household chores, cooking, and basically taking care of everyone else. With so many people who rely on you, it’s important to find healthy ways to manage your stress.
Because if you don’t then the negative effects that accompany stress will unfortunately appear, affecting you and those closest to you.
Whether you get in physical activity by dancing in your kitchen, have a supportive friend you confide in, or find relief in taking a course to enhance your knowledge on a subject, you must take healthy measures to cope with stress.
When you find ways to free yourself from stress, it’s not just caring for yourself, but for everyone around you as well.