Right around 5pm is when everything at my home goes pretty crazy. This fateful hour is when my four kids all seem to conspire against me at once and unknowingly drive me to the brink of my sanity and my stress level begins to mount.
You can hear sounds of “Mommmm, I’m hungry!” and… “Ew! That looks gross! I don’t want to eat THAT for dinner!” also… “Mom! I need to use the computer right NOW ‘cause I have a homework assignment due tomorrow that I forgot about!” Or… “I already set the table last time! “Do I have to do it AGAIN?!”
And of course you can hear the impatient frustrated squawking from my 18 month old who is trying to communicate his needs.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore my four kiddos. But… when five o’clock rolls around I know I’m in for a major dose of stress if I don’t do some planning in advance. ..
In this article we’ll discuss five tips that I have found to be useful for stress management.
1.) Become aware.
Creating an awareness for what is causing you to be stressed is the key. Some things may be obvious like the example I shared above. Other things might be a little harder to identify.
In such situations it is helpful to take a notebook with you and record how you are feeling throughout the day, paying special attention to times when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Make sure to try and pinpoint the cause of the stressor.
Be careful to notice your habits and actions. For example, you may think that a particular project at work is the stress problem, where it may actually be you procrastinating the project until the last minute that is the core issue.
Are you being realistic with yourself? Do you have the problem of trying to do too many things in too short of time? When we do this it can often cause feelings of stress, guilt and frustration.
When my son was a newborn I would try to do “everything” during his naps because I knew that when he woke up I would not be able to do much more than take care of him. The problem was I couldn’t do “everything” during that short amount of time! It was completely not realistic and I ended up burning myself out.
I realized that I needed to prioritize myself by looking at my to do list and choosing just one or two important things that I could accomplish in that short time. For me, getting dinner prepared, folding a load of laundry, or even just taking a much needed nap was a big stress reducer.
3.) Sleep, eat, and exercise:
How much sleep are you getting at night? What does your daily food intake look like? Are you drinking enough water? When is the last time you exercised? These questions may sound like a conversation with your Mother, but she must have known something!
Research shows those who eat healthy, exercise regularly, get sufficient rest, and are well hydrated are able to cope with stress and bounce back from a stressful situation much better than those who don’t.
If you are struggling in any of these areas, start small such as drinking water instead of soda.
4.) Make time to relax:
When is the last time you did something to specifically work on reducing the effects of stress on your system? Studies have shown that when you take time to relax and recharge it helps to balance your Nervous System which initiates the relaxation response.
According to Helpguide.org “The relaxation response is not lying on the couch or sleeping but a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused.”
Because each of us is different it is important to consider what really resonates and can help focus the mind and interrupt everyday thoughts to give the body a chance to “reboot”.
In Relaxation techniques for stress relief by Healthguide.org some examples are: Yoga, deep breathing, or even meditation. “If you tend to respond to stress by zoning out or becoming withdrawn and depressed you might need to try something such as running, walking, rowing or cycling with a special focus on your breathing and body movement.”
So there you have it. Four tips to help with stress management. Now, the next time you start to feel the pressure start to mount try one of these tips mentioned above.
And… I will try not to let MY stress escalate as I look around my house and notice the toys strewn all over the floor, the kitchen counters a mess and dishes piled up in the sink. A result of my ignoring cleaning for a while to write this article. Ha Ha! Ready? Deep breathing begins…
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