Being a mum brings with it many wonderful things, however it also brings with it some not so nice things….including lots of stress! Today’s life as a mother is just so hectic – there are just so many things in the mix aren’t there? Mumming, work, a thousand parties and after school clubs, expectations – the list goes on. It just feels like everything has become so much more complicated in motherhood and therefore, well, quite stressful at times! If you’re a stressed out mama reading this, today I have some excellent advice for you from Anne Williams – a contact of mine and hypnotherapist at Centre of Transforming Health – on how to control stress. So now take a deep breath (because we all need to breathe a whole lot more!), and let’s being with her de-stress strategies:
We are human beings not human doings and being too busy is stressful. It’s good to have a regular review of everything you’re doing to evaluate whether you have to do it all. You might like to review what is really important to you and what your priorities are. These may change over time. Are there things that you don’t need to do right now and which could wait? Could you delegate or ask for help with certain things? Beware of feeling that you ‘should’ or ‘ought’ to do things, as this may be putting unnecessary stress on yourself. Instead, question whether these things are what you choose to do or want to do.
Self care is making sure you are meeting your physical and emotional needs. Physical needs include a healthy diet, drinking water, regular exercise, sleep and security. Emotional needs include security, giving and receiving attention, emotional intimacy, feeling part of a wider community, meaning and purpose, having a sense of control, status, competence and achievement and being able to have privacy. Remember to put on your own oxygen mask!
Be aware of how you’re putting stress and pressure on yourself by the way you think. For example, having high standards is fine, but perfectionism is a recipe for unnecessary stress. How are you thinking about the things that you find stressful? What other ways of thinking about them would make them seem less stressful? Thought management strategies include recognising thinking errors, challenging your thoughts, letting go of stresses and worries, and mindfulness.
Aim to do some relaxation every day, whether that’s a relaxing activity or practising relaxation exercises, such as breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or visualisation. It’s important to relax both your body and your mind in any relaxation that you do, so watching TV or reading aren’t the best forms of relaxation, as your mind will be stimulated.
Exercise merits its own category outside self-care, as it is so important in countering the physical symptoms of the ‘fight and flight’ response, produces ‘feel good’ endorphins and serotonin, and is vital for general health and wellbeing. The NHS recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week (or a combination of the two) and strength exercises on 2 or more days a week. Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise programme, if you’re not used to exercising much.
Laughter is genuinely a very effective therapy for stress and anxiety. It signals to the body that there is no emergency that it needs to fight or flee from. It boosts the immune system, releases endorphins and has even been found to improve cardiovascular function. Far from being frivolous, including fun activities in your week, will help you deal with stress and anxiety. Seek out things that make you laugh, whether that’s a friend, a TV programme, DVD, book or magazine or You Tube video.
Don’t go it alone when you’re stressed or anxious! Talking to a friend or family member or your GP or a therapist can help you put things in perspective. You might also find it helpful to get support in implementing the DE-STRESS strategies, for example finding someone to exercise with.
NB These DE-STRESS strategies are not in order of importance or priority
Everybody’s circumstances and preferences are different. It might be more important for you to give exercise a greater priority when you think about how to control stress, if you don’t do very much at the moment. On the other hand, if you already do some regular exercise, it might be more important to practise relaxation (while keeping up your exercise!).
Are you a stressed out mama? What are your thoughts on Anne’s advice on how to control stress using the methods above? Do leave a comment and share: