5 Ways to Manage Your Stress as a Busy Mom
As a busy mom, you are inevitably going to experience some stress in your life. Even with the best planning and time management techniques in place, you can’t control everything and life happens! But, learning to manage your stress can really have a great impact on reducing that stress as it arises.
One of the things I work with my clients on is realizing that while you may not be in control of a particular situation, you are still the one in control of your life (your response and the decisions you make). Once you realize this, your stress will be easier to handle.
The first step to coming to this realization is to evaluate the way you currently manage your stress. How you do this is completely up to you. You may choose to journal your thoughts, meditate, or go for a walk. Whatever you choose, spend a few minutes today thinking about how you respond in stressful situations. Then ask yourself: “Is this working for me?”, “Are my coping skills healthy and productive?”.
If not, it might be time to explore some new techniques.
Not everyone copes with stress the same way, and you cannot handle every situation with the same technique. This is why I am going to discuss 5 stress management techniques that you can add to your toolkit to use when you find yourself in stressful situations.
1.Eliminate Unnecessary Stress
This might seem obvious, but as moms we often overlook this step. We forget to be in control of our own lives. This unnecessary stress is our choice. We have made decisions that have led us here [sorry if you don’t want to hear that], but we can also make choices to eliminate this stress. By taking this perspective on the situation we are empowered to make decisions that will help us remove the stress from our day-to-day lives.
Learn to say no. I am a recovering people pleaser and often times I still feel like I have to be available to help others on all their projects or requests. I don’t want to upset or disappoint anyone and as a result, I end up strapped for time and completely overwhelmed. While it’s important for me to be available to my children and spouse, I have to remember to take care of myself as well.
Saying no doesn’t mean I don’t want to help that person or that I am a bad person, it just means that at this point in time I am unable to extend myself further – I already have a full plate.
Say goodbye to negative friends. [Sorry if you’re the negative friend]. Negativity is contagious, and if you’re in a stressed state you may be more vulnerable to the negativity of those around you. Find some positive friends to spend time connecting with.
As part of this project you might want to curate your social media feed. Many social media apps allow you to unfollow people while still remaining friends. [EDIT: Facebook has recently added a Snooze option where you can snooze a particular friend for 30 days]. This might give you the space you need to rebalance yourself and cope with the stress. After a while, you may decide you want to follow that person gain or you may decide that you no longer find that friendship valuable. Don’t be afraid to unfriend people – you must do what’s best for you – and toxic relationships with negative people rarely serve you (especially as a busy mom with multiple time commitments).
Along with this is avoiding the evening news. The news rarely has positive stories that highlight all the good being done in the world, rather it emphasizes all the crime, mayhem, politics, and drama going on. This is not a stress you need to take on when you’re trying to manage your own life. I’m not saying to never know what’s going on in the world, but to consider eliminating the stress you feel from watching the news during the times where you are experiencing other situational stress outside of your control.
Don’t overbook yourself
So, while we cannot eliminate every circumstance or situation that might cause us stress, there are a few things you can start doing today to get rid of the unnecessary stress you handle on a week-to-week basis.
2. Alter the Situation
Sometimes eliminating the situation is not an option. In this case, the best way to manage the stress we are facing is to try to change the situation to make it easier to endure. Respectfully voicing your opinion or concern can help those around you see your perspective and help you feel heard. They may even have some suggestions about how to change the situation. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.
Perhaps some better time management skills might help change the situation. If you’re not constantly running behind or struggling to meet deadlines, you’re going to be less stressed and life will be much easier.
3. Change Your Mindset
If you can’t change the situation, then you will have to change yourself. I don’t mean fundamentally changing your core values or beliefs (I would never recommend such a thing), but rather looking at how you can shift your mindset to approach a stressful situation from a more positive perspective.
I have a gratitude journal that I write in every night. No matter how frustrating the day has been I always find 3 things to be thankful for. If you struggle with mindset, I recommend carrying a small notebook and when you feel extra stressed take 1 minute to write down something positive in your life that you are thankful for (even the smallest thing can help shift your mood).
Another technique I find helpful is to reassess my expectations. I am a perfectionist. Although I don’t expect perfection from others, I expect it from myself and this can cause me a lot of stress in my day. When this happens, I have to look at the expectation I have set for myself – is it realistic or too high? Along with this, I have to remind myself that I am human, and it’s ok to many mistakes sometimes.
I will admit the mindset shift is a tough one to make, that’s why I work with a coach who keeps me accountable. One thing I continuously ask myself is – will this situation matter in a week? A month? A year? If not, then it’s not worth my time to stress over it. Considering the bigger picture really helps me put things into perspective and reduce the stress I am feeling in the moment.
4. Accept the Situation for What It Is
Growing up one of my friends used to continuously say “well, that’s life” whenever something really crappy happened. I thought that was a bit harsh. There are some situations such as chronic illnesses, deaths of family or friends, that cause a lot of stress and I don’t feel that just brushing it aside is the appropriate response. However, accepting the reality of the situation is the first step towards processing it and moving past it. You cannot control everything, and fixating on those things beyond your control can really increase your stress levels.
A really quick (and effective) exercise that I do and use with my private clients is to take out a sheet of paper and draw a big circle in the center of it. I then take a deep breath and write down what is stressing me out. The things that I can control (what I eat, when I go to bed, my response to an email) go inside the circle. The things I cannot control (traffic, deadlines, etc.) go outside the circle. This is a great way to visually represent the stress in our lives. Are you fixating on the things outside the circle? The things outside of your control? Accept them for what they are and focus on what you can control (your response to whatever is outside of your control).
- Create Joy in Your Life
This is the best way to manage your stress as a busy mom. You can offset your stress with joyful moments. Make your life as healthy and happy as possible and you will notice that less stress is able to push its way in.
For example, prioritize your self care and get enough sleep. When you’re exhausted you are unable to respond to situations in the same way you do when rested. This can lead to anxiety, stress and sadness. Getting a good night’s sleep can really go a long way to battling stress in your life. Movement is also known to boost your endorphins making you happy and feeling more in control of your life (and thus less stressed).
Connect with family and friends. Make time to be with those who you can be yourself around. Feeling supported and loved go a long way to helping you get through tough times. Having something to look forward to at the end of the day or week can also really help manage stress.
What do you do to manage your stress? Are your techniques working for you?
If you would like to explore more techniques for managing stress, I have great news for you I have just launched a new online course to explore how to manage stress and overwhelm. If you would like more information on this course check it out here.