It's the first full week of April, spring break has come to an end, school is back in session, work is in full swing, and I can already feel the stress coming on. Since April is National Stress Awareness Month, I thought this would be a good time to share some of my personal tips with you to decrease the amount of stress in your lives. There are all different types of mothers out there: working mothers, stay-at-home mothers, part-time mothers, etc., but stress can sneak up on all of us at any moment. If you're anything like me, you're not satisfied until everything is completed, and is done to perfection. But none of us are perfect, so we should really try to set realistic goals for ourselves. Trying to do everything perfectly all the time will wear you completely thin. Knowing what you are capable of and what is priority will also help to manage the stress. Remembering to use the three Rs is also extremely important, but we'll get to that shortly.
Dealing with stress can literally make you SICK! When you are suffering from a great deal of anxiety or fear, stress hormones can rush into your bloodstream and increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels. When you're dealing with high levels of stress, hormones also suppress digestion and other bodily functions, which is one of the main reasons why chronic stress can lead to illness. Many different factors can trigger stress: work conflicts, financial worry, or general anxiety. One or two bad days is almost impossible to avoid, but long-term stress can absolutely have an adverse affect on your health. Because our children, spouses and other family members are depending on us, it is extremely important for us to maintain good health. Peace of mind is one thing that helps me sleep at night, so here are a few ways I keep myself balanced, I keep my mind at ease, and I stay as stress-free as possible.
I know I am one person and I cannot do it all:
Life can pull us in a million different directions at once, but we absolutely have to prioritize to establish what's important now and what can be put off until the next time. Mothers are definitely amazing, but we are human, and we cannot do everything. Asking for help is also a good thing. Don't be so prideful and know how to identify when to ask for help. Also learn to recognize when things can be avoided or done differently. Leftover night is a MUST in my house. My husband knows not to expect a freshly prepared meal or for me to spend money every night for dinner. I manage their expectations, and everyone is satisfied. I am also extremely particular and hate to go to bed when the house is not completely in order. Over the years I have learned to put some things off (like cleaning the family room) because that same mess will be waiting for me in the morning.
I am not perfect and that is A-Okay:
In case you haven't heard, not one of us is perfect. I used to be so consumed with dotting every I and crossing every T, until I realized that no one really cares, so why should I? I'm not implying that you should start doing your work with half the effort, but what I'm saying is that our efforts are often more important than the end result, and many times, our work is even better with a little "personal touch." I recently made a Lego Valentine's Day box for Mr. President #1's class party, and I stayed up all night glueing cups to the top to make it look like a giant lego, spray painting the box outside in the cold, and glueing old Lego pieces to the box to add a little more decor, only to find out that Mr. President #1 would have been completely happy with a plain old shoe box to hold his valentines. On holidays and birthdays, I turn into Martha Stewart. I go above and beyond the call of duty when the boys and my husband will most-likely be more than happy with cake and time with friends and family. At the end of the day, don't strive for perfection. Strive for joy and happiness. I don't know about you, but I am certainly not perfect and my husband and children really don't care.
Make a little time to practice the three Rs: Relax, Reboot, Recharge:
Having a little "me" time is not selfish, it's necessary. When you're constantly doing, doing, doing for others, you have to make a little time to do for YOU to maintain that balance and healthy energy. Whether it's taking a little nap, or taking a walk around the neighbor [or your building if you're stuck at work], remember to take a time out to recharge yourselves. For me, taking a quiet walk helps to decrease my anxiety, which ultimately helps to prevent stress. Listening to some good grooves during my car rides also helps to put me in a good place. Whatever it is that helps you reenergize, take a little time to do it.
Avoid the "Superwoman Complex:"
A very close friend of mine, who also happens to be a physician, mom of two, entrepreneur, Mr. President #1's Godmother, and literally just does it ALL (don't ask me how, haha), is the author of a book on how to avoid the stress of doing it all. The book entitled, How to Avoid the Superwoman Complex: Five Ways to Balance Mind, Body, and Spirit will help you learn to balance life while taking care of YOU. Visit her website at www.docswiner.com or follower her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Docswiner.
It is extremely important to remember that we cannot do it all. If you need to seek help, go ask for it. We all need a little help sometimes. We're not perfect and we will never be able to please everyone, so stop stressing over the things you cannot control. Lastly, but certainly not least, remember to make a little time for YOU. After all, things probably would not be the same without us mothers, so stay in good health so you can stick around for a while. A year from now, all of those things you're stressing over probably won't even matter. Stress less and laugh more. Besides, stress probably doesn't go with your outfit either!