Too much stress can have a devastating impact on your health and well-being. Recent research by Chrysalis Courses, the UK’s leading counselling and hypnotherapy trainer, found that women are more likely to feel stressed than men with one in five saying they feel this way every day. The research also found that being a parent with children at home adds to your stress levels.
Lorna Cordwell, Head of Counselling at Chrysalis Courses shares her top tips to help mums stress less.
Mums are not very good at putting themselves first. Learn to always consider your wellbeing in everything you do. Let go of any guilty feelings around doing ‘nothing’, and take regular breaks from tasks, letting yourself know when you’re tired and need to rest. Value your emotions too. You have a right to feel them, and by learning to trust them you will learn a lot about yourself. Emotions like anger, fear and sadness might be uncomfortable, but they can help us to understand what is really troubling us.
Take responsibility for your stress
Many mums are juggling parenthood with work and other pressures. It’s easy to blame something else for causing our stress, but this can leave us feeling that things are out of our control. Our counselling and hypnotherapy students learn that people often create our own stress by how they think about situations. When we are calm, we can let go of things that aren’t important. Be realistic. Do you have to do everything perfectly, when in many cases ‘good enough’ is just fine? If you find you think in terms of “musts, have-to’s, and shoulds”, try easing up on yourself.
Learn full relaxation
Relaxation does not come easily when we are stressed. If you find it hard to switch off, there are lots of simple relaxation and mindfulness exercises that you can learn from self-help books or online. At Chrysalis we teach our students how hypnosis and progressive relaxation significantly reduces stress. If we are not careful stress can become a habit and we start feeling stressed all the time. I regularly stop myself throughout the day and just ask myself a simple question, “How am I in this moment?”, then I mentally check around my body and check on my actions and thinking. “Am I just worrying for no reason?”, “Am I walking really fast when I could be taking my time?” If I am then I make myself stop.
Be more assertive
Do you agree to others’ unreasonable requests? You were hoping to get away early but now you’ve told a work colleague that you’ll finish up his project so he can go home. Saying “No” when we need to can be done calmly and politely while staying firm to our decision. It’s helpful to others as well to know where we stand. It can be tricky at first, but try practicing in situations that aren’t that important to you. Practice saying “No” to the persistent cold-callers. You can add a “thank you “if you wish!
Be realistic about your ability to physically get things done by the deadline you’ve given yourself. Can you really get all that done in a day? Will you feel guilty if you don’t? Spend some time building your time-management skills. Time regular tasks as you do them so you know how long they really take. Sometimes the solution to stress caused by being in a rush is accepting that we can’t do anything about it. The train is running late and our worrying won’t speed up our journey.
Have your own space
So often in therapy I have found that clients don’t have a space in time or a physical space that is just theirs. Boltholes like sheds, allotments and garages are recognised by many of us. But women in particular can find themselves without a space of their own in the family home. The kids have their bedrooms, our partner has their workshop, but we share a bedroom and all the other rooms are communal. If you can’t physically create a space, then try taking walks, gardening, reading, and doing activities that let you be with just you.
Recognise your friends
We are social creatures and as well as needing to be alone sometimes, we also like to be with others. Spend time with the people who make you feel good, and consider spending less time with the people who don’t. You may find yourself just meeting other mums because it’s convenient but are they really true friends you can be yourself with? If you’ve lost touch with good friends, then bite the bullet and re-connect. Social media can be a great way of keeping in touch, but it’s not a good alternative to calling each other, meeting regularly or just popping round.
What do you think about these tips to help mums stress less? Do you try to do any of these in your life? Perhaps you have some tips to share. Please do leave a comment below.
Lorna Cordwell is a therapist and Head of Counselling at Chrysalis Courses which offers flexible counselling and hypnotherapy training at 32 venues across the UK.
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