Motherhood can be full of surprises, and one of the biggest ones that no one talks about is the stress that comes with it, especially when trying to balance work and family life. We often have the image of sleep-deprived but fulfilled and happy mothers in our heads, but stress is a very real issue that we need to communicate about more openly. Personally, for me, that was a huge surprise, working in global manager roles in the corporate IT world was nothing compared to the stress due to motherhood challenges, for example, the Terrible Two. Do you agree?
In this article, I'll be talking about the surprising presence of stress in motherhood and I will be sharing with you the 3 most important steps to reduce stress in your life.
Did you know that stress is a natural reaction of our bodies to something threatening us? It triggers the fight or flight reflex, an evolutionary response to danger. While this response was rare in the past, it's now a part of our daily lives. Not because we need to face predators daily but because of our fast-paced lifestyles, where we're expected to react to stressors constantly, like conflicts at work, kids with the risk of hurting themselves or not doing what we ask them, being constantly late as it is impossible to leave on time with kids and so on.
Sadly, 80% of working mothers experience at least one stress-related health issue like fatigue, being overweight, or having high blood pressure. This isn't the life you imagined when you started a family.
However, as I always mention in my coaching programs, it is not easy, but possible to reduce stress, even as a mother with a professional career. There are various short-term and long-term techniques that you can try, and if you need more hands-on support, just drop me a message.
In this video, I will focus on the holistic picture, what are the proactive solutions, and I will share with you some tips in a different video about what to do if you find yourself stressed and you want to calm down quickly.
The key to reducing stress is to design and build up a lifestyle that allows you to release tension regularly, like a pressure cooker. If your daily routine doesn't let you unwind from time to time, your resilience level, and your capacity to react in a relaxed and balanced way to stress factors will be very low. You'll lose patience easily, snap at your loved ones, and feel guilty about it.
My suggestion is to include at least three stress-releasing activities in your daily routine that allows you to recharge your batteries and let the frustration go. You don't need to go to a SPA every day (but you can!), it could be a quick exercise, meditation, or just sitting down for ten minutes with a cup of tea. You can call your best friend for a short laugh and venting. All of us are different so you will know best what is working for you, but as a rule of thumb, spending time in the fresh air regularly, going for a walk or exercising is kind of jolly jokers.
Never underestimate the power of sleeping, which is an essential factor in how well we manage stress, how is our overall mood, and how well our immune system works. It's recommended that we respect our circadian cycle and go to bed relatively early to harness deep sleep before midnight which you can't catch up on anymore if you go to bed later. Ideally, we should all sleep between 7-8 hours, but we often stay up late to catch up on work or chores or Netflix series. It's understandable, but still worth aiming for an early bedtime and making some compromises. I'll link my e-book about sleeping below in the description box, it contains tons of coaching tools to help you work on your sleeping habits.
Your Personal Stress Factors
Finally, let's look at your personal stress factors causing you the biggest problem. For example, I had a client who realized she was more stressed out during the family time. When alone with her kids, it was obvious that she was in charge and responsible for fixing all problems. However, when her husband was present, she had expectations towards him that they had never discussed, leading to frustration and stress when he didn't act as she had hoped. Again, everyone is different, so there's no one-size-fits-all solution. However, exploring your typical stress-inducing situations and patterns can help you become more conscious of them and work on removing these stressors from your life.
I hope these tips help you to get some insights and reduce stress in your life. You can check out my workbook, How to sleep well, even as a parent on creating healthy sleeping habits here!