I recently found myself as a single mother. I never imagined that I would be in this situation. Before having my son, I never really understood the struggles and stresses that single mothers go through. Now that I am alone, broke, and the mother of a six-month-old baby boy, I am drowning in despair. Although I am going through a tough time raising my son on my own, I know I have to be strong for my child and that I can not sit around crying and feeling sorry for myself all day. This is why I'm writing this article. I know that I am not the only single mother in the world who feels this way. Feeling like all you want to do is cry or hide in the closet somewhere, but at the same time knowing that you have to hold back the tears and put on a smiley face for your child. In doing this, I had to learn how to cope with the stresses of my day and how to hide the pain I feel to avoid inflicting my stresses on my son. Here are a few tips for my fellow single mothers to help with all the struggles of your day to relieve some of your stress:
Breathe Deep: When I am overwhelmed (which is pretty much 99% of the time), I notice that I am not inhaling and exhaling completely. It might sound strange, but I actually hold my breath or I take such short breaths that I am not breathing correctly. I've found that when I actually concentrate on my breathing and take long, deep breaths in through my nose and exhale through my mouth, that it actually makes me feel better. For example, studies have shown that chest breathing can contribute to anxiety, tension, and increased heart rate. However, deep breathing that originates in the abdominal relaxes you and releases stress from the body. Being alone and handling everything on our own with no single mother help, can make even some of the most simple things in our daily routine overwhelming.
Take a few moments throughout the day to take deep breaths. Count each breath and really feel the air fill your lungs as you breathe in from your abdominal and inhale through your nose. This may not sound like a lot, but you'll be surprised at how much better you'll feel as you breathe deep. I do this throughout my day to help me deal with stress.
Live in the Moment: What helps me is to remember that every situation, whether good or bad, is temporary. Nothing lasts forever. So while we as single moms may think that things will never get better, remember that your little one will not be little forever and that one day he or she will be a grown man or woman. Your child will one day understand all the struggles and sacrifices you made for them and will love you unconditionally. Take in all the precious moments without worry. When you are playing with your child, try to put aside all of your concerns and hardships that may be on your mind. Just focus on the moment. Usually, the present is not terribly bad. It's when we are in the present and worrying about the past and the future that troubles us the most. But in reality, the present is not what is entirely worrying. Instead of focusing on what has happened, what you want to happen, and what hasn't happened yet – put all of your attention in the present moment when you are staring in your baby's eyes or when reading him a story. Remember nothing lasts forever, and these tough times will be over before you know it. It will all be distant memories one day.
Seek Support: As a single mother, I know how it feels to try to do everything on your own. I think we try to be superwoman because we are so accustomed to being alone and having to be independent. I had conditioned my mind to believe that this was my struggle alone and that no one cared or was willing to help me. It wasn't until I almost had a nervous breakdown from trying to be everything to everyone at every moment that I finally said that it's alright to ask for help.
Asking for help doesn't make you weak or inefficient as a mother. It doesn't say to the world that you can't do it or that you're a failure. What it says is that you're human. And in being human, we all need help sometimes. You are never truly alone. Even if you don't have family or friends, there is single mother help. Programs like government assistance for rent, financial aid, grants, food programs, and single mother support groups are available. Seek out support to help you manage the stresses of raising a child on your own.