Whether you’re an eight-to-five employee or stay-at-home, single or married, have one kid or several, busy moms experience stress. The stress may be as a result of having too much to do, especially if you have a toddler or having a demanding and stressful job. I’m a mom and I know dividing your time between house chores, parenting, wifely duties and a demanding job can be a task too many for most women. In fact, for most of us, the early hours of the day seem to be ‘labour’ periods (and we tend to do much more than many people can achieve within a day, during that time frame). But, it is not without its downtime – stress. As we tend to focus on everyone in the family and neglect to take care of ourselves.
Being able to manage stress is therefore a must to keep many stressed mothers on their feet, in a productive way.
What is Stress?
Stress is a change to your normal routine and health. It can be caused by both good and bad news. It’s a highly subjective phenomenon as what you consider as stress may not be what I consider as such. For instance, speaking in public may be a source of stress to some while other people find it exciting.
Causes of Stress for Women
- Bad News
A recent Canadian study found that bad news is a major cause of stress in women as they tend to be sensitive to bad news than their male counterparts. Marie-France Marin, lead author of the study as well as a neuroscientist at the University of Montreal advised women who read bad news in the morning before leaving the house to learn stress management techniques in order to cope throughout the day. The study was published October 11, 2012 in the journal PLoS One.
- Hormonal Changes
In a lifetime, women go through many changes, from puberty to the menstrual cycle, from pregnancy to menopause and hormones are responsible for all these changes, so, they (hormones) tend to fluctuate endlessly and cause friction and stress.
- Work-Related Stress
Work-related stress can lead to dire consequences as it leaves women with little or no time as well as inspiration to partake in activities to improve overall health. Yet, 60% of female employees in the US say their job is their number one source of stress. Research even indicates that women with challenging jobs are less likely to exercise and more likely to smoke and devour fatty foods.
- Home Duties
I call this a full-time job and many women, after facing the demands of work, get home to a pile of chores. A combination of a demanding job and home responsibilities causes levels of the stress hormone, norepinephrine to shoot up; ditto for the blood pressure. Married or single working mothers face higher stress levels than women without children.And you all know the reason; parenting is no easy task!
- Anxiety and Worry
Anxiety and worry is also a major cause of stress for most women. Many working mothers worry about not spending as much time as they would have loved with their families. They worry about speculative (things people say would happen) and veritable (things that are sure to happen like their employee going bankrupt because of financial malpractices) events. They worry about fixing the mess in the home. They worry about not measuring up to the standards of in-laws. They worry about everything and this causes stress.
- Major Life Occurences
Life is highly uncertain and things we do not expect happen; like divorce and death of a loved one or child. These, I can say, are two of the most stressful occurences in a woman's life. Aside sad life events, happy ones can also cause stress; like planning a wedding or having a child.
Stress Relief for Women
Having looked at some of the causes of stress, let me quickly discuss stress management and relaxation techniques for busy moms.
- Set Your Priorities Right
As a mother, you’d find there are many things to do around the house, alongside a demanding job, family engagements and friends who always want to see you. Most times, it’s difficult to keep up with all these commitments so, you must learn to prioritize. Take the time to figure out those things that are important to you and your family and say no to activities that are not top priority. Get a help if you need one around the house and learn fast ways of cooking to save you time. You can also get rid of some of the clutter around the house.
- Create Time For Yourself
There’s no wisdom in taking care of everybody and neglecting yourself. Take time out to refuel and do those things you love. There’s no problem with carving out 30 minutes daily to take care of yourself (read a book you’ve always wanted, have a hot bath or eat in your favourite restaurant). No matter how busy you are, please find the time to refuel because you cannot give your family the best when you’re drained.
- Listen to Relaxing Music
I do this a lot and it helps to keep me calm even in stressful situations. I like my music nice and slow and it really helps. You can also get into this habit by listening to relaxing music on your way to work and back, while doing stuff around the house and even before you go to sleep.
- Get Regular Physical Exercise
This one is a no-brainer but we don’t get into it often (probably because we’re too busy or plain lazy). Exercise has been proven to release ‘feel good’ chemicals that boost our energy, mood, immune system and sex life. Getting into a daily exercise habit can really reduce stress our lives (even a short walk daily can do you a lot of good). Read these 10 reasons to exercise and discover how.
- Practice Time Management
Set time aside for being with the kids, your husband, home chores, friends and other duties. It helps to keep you focused and learn to politely say no to requests that infringe on your prior arrangement.
- Ask for Help
Ask is a three-letter word but it’s powerful when used right. Don’t pretend to be a super woman, because you’re not. We all need help sometimes and if you’re crushing under the weight of your responsibilities, ask friends, family and even a caregiver to help. This takes some strain off you and ultimately keeps you happy.
- Figure Out things that Stress You
Take some time to think and figure out things, situations and occurences that stress you. When you do, you’ll be able to plan a way of dealing with them. For instance, if you realise your stress level moves up when you get home from work to a mess in the house, call for a meeting to discuss that in the family and agree on ways to tackle it.
- Don’t Throw Away Your Sense of Humour
You need humour to get past many stressful situations, so, don’t throw your sense of humour away. As you try to engage humour to overcome stress and lighten things up, you’d realise that most of the things that caused you stress didn’t matter in the long run.
- Approach Discipline with Common Sense and Wisdom
While writing this, I realized I should have included it in the causes of stress because a child’s defiant behaviour can be a major cause of stress for women. Engage your partner in child discipline but it’s not always good to go physical. But, I think it all depends on the situation at hand but my advice is to approach child discipline with common sense and the wisdom of God.
Summary and Action TakeAway
Now that you know ways to deal with stress, I urge you to take action and reduce the stress in your life because stress has been linked with major health challenges such as stroke, heart attack, high blood pressue, heart palpitations and many others. About.com even goes ahead to talk about heart disease as being the number one cause of death among American women!