Stress Busting Tips for Busy Mums
We Mums are under far more stress than most people realise. And when we don’t get any recovery time from stress, it can negatively impact our health, our emotions and our relationships. Mums endure many types of chronic stress. Most mums suffer from at least some of the following types of stress:
- Physical Stresses: fatigue, sleeplessness, hormonal imbalances, dietary stress (e.g. nutritional deficiencies), and the residual trauma of childbirth.
- Psychological (emotional) stresses : resentments, fears, frustration, sadness, anger, information overload, accelerated sense of time, worry, guilt, shame, jealousy, resistance, attachments, self-criticism, unworkable perfectionism, anxiety, panic attacks, not feeling like yourself, not feeling like things are real, and a sense of being out of control.
- Psychosocial stresses: relationship difficulties (partner, parents, siblings, children, family, employer, co-workers, or employer), lack of social support, lack of resources, loss of employment, and isolation.
- Psycho-spiritual stress: A crisis of values, meaning, and purpose; joyless striving (instead of productive, satisfying, meaningful and fulfilling work; and misalignment with one’s core spiritual beliefs).
In order to successfully cope with the onslaught of so much stress, mums need to dedicate some time to recovery. Mums need some “ME TIME” so that they can recuperate from the stress they are under. They need some dedicated time to recover so that they can be the physically, emotionally and psychologically healthy woman that their family needs.
So how can Mums recover from stress when they have so little time to themselves?
We’ve collected 14 of our favourite tips & tricks to get the most out of your stress recovery time.
You might not have the time for a gym session or a full on workout, but you can likely find time to do some stretching and to get some walking in. When it comes to moving, you don’t have to do it for long before you start to generate stress recovery benefits. Walking releases endorphins, which are the feel good hormones our body makes during exercise. These hormones give us feelings of well-being, relieve stress and can also help avoid any postpartum blues.
Arrange some relaxing scents wherever you can in your home. Some of the most calming scents are: Lavender, Rose, Vetiver, Bergamot, Chamomile, Neroli, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Orange or Orange Blossom and Geranium. Most chemists sell diffusers. Diffusing lavender oil at night can help you sleep too - bonus!
Writing things down can help in two ways.
a) Writing things down can be a great way to recover from stress. It allows you to get your stressors out of your head and onto paper. Once they are on paper, it is much easier to view them from a more objective perspective. Stresses that seemed overwhelming when they were bouncing around in your head usually seem far less intimidating when you look at them on paper. And the solution to our stressors is often much easier to see when they are written down.
b) Writing the things you are grateful for helps us regain perspective. It helps us lift our head up from all of the stressors that are weighing on us and to look at the bright things in our lives. It is all to easy to get buried under our stressors, but the good things in our lives are still there, sometimes we just need to make the effort to look for them! Taking a couple of minutes every day to jot down the things we’re grateful for can be a huge stress reliever.
4. Spend time with friends
Support from friends and family can help you work through the stress in your life. Support can also help you adjust your perspective so that the stressors don’t seem so overwhelming. Having a network of friends can give us a sense of belonging and self-worth, which can help us recover from stress. Research has indicated that women in particular benefit from spending time with friends. Spending time with friends releases oxytocin which is a natural stress reliever.
This can feel difficult some times, but it is a great way to recover from stress. It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re laughing. It’s good for your health, and it can help relieve stress by 1) Relieving your stress response 2) Relieving tension by relaxing your muscles. Try watching your favourite funny TV show or comedians. Or spend time with friends who make you laugh. You know who they are!
6. Say "No"
Look for the parts of your life which are causing you stress. Now check which ones you might be able to control. One way to take control is to say “no” to the parts of your life that are not absolute musts. This can be difficult when you’re stressed out. One trick is to ask yourself, what would happen if I didn’t do X task? Often when we ask this question, we find that the “must do” tasks are really “could do” tasks. For example, If tidying up the kitchen after breakfast is stressing you out, ask yourself “what would happen if I left the dishes until lunch?” If the answer is “the world would still keep turning”, maybe today you could be kind to yourself, leave the dishes until lunch and relax on the couch for 10 minutes. This is especially important if you find yourself trying to do everything yourself. Juggling too many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Being selective about what you take on. Say “no” to things that will add to unnecessary stress. And ask for help instead of trying to do it all yourself. Share the load, it can reduce your stress levels.
7. Practice Yoga
Yoga is a popular method of stress relief and exercise for many mums. While you may not have time to nip down to the local Yoga studio for a 45 minute yoga class, you may be able to do 10 minutes yoga in your lounge with a guided session on YouTube. Research has found that yoga can enhance mood and may even be as effective as antidepressant drugs at treating depression and anxiety.
8. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness practices are practices that anchor you in the present moment. Mindfulness can help combat the anxiety-inducing effects of negative thinking . Meditation is one of the easiest ways of increasing mindfulness. There are many online apps and YouTube clips that provide guided meditation. They don’t have to take long - many offer 3 minute sessions.
Cuddling and hugging can help relieve stress. Positive physical contact can help lower cortisol and release oxytocin. These effects can in turn help lower blood pressure and heart rate, which can help reduce the feeling of stress. Cuddling your children is a win-win. Children need physical contact for their emotional development. And the attention you pay them when cuddling will help curb any negative attention-getting behaviours.
10. Listening to music
Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body. Slower-paced music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones. There are heaps of free options of music on the internet that have been compiled for their relaxing qualities. YouTube is a great place to start your search! Nature sounds can also be very calming. This is why they’re often incorporated into relaxation and meditation music.
Deep breathing can help control the relaxation response by activating your parasympathetic nervous system. The goal of deep breathing is to focus your awareness on your breath, making it slower and deeper. When you breathe in deeply through your nose, your lungs fully expand and your belly rises. This helps slow your heart rate, allowing you to feel more peaceful. I find the 6/2/7 method to be effective. Inhale for 6 seconds, hold for 2 seconds and then exhale for 7 seconds. But that’s only one method. A quick search on the internet will give you many more options.
12. Get into nature
Surrounding yourself in green space will increase your recovery from stress. A recent study by Stanford researchers showed that walking in green campus parkland reduced anxiety and worry and had cognitive benefits as well. When ever you get a chance, try to get into greenspaces. If you have a park nearby, try to get there for a walk, or to spend time at the playground in the park.
A recent study at the University of Kansas showed that the physical act of smiling can help your body recover from stress. Even fake smiles were found to work. The researchers divided the group into two groups. One group put on fake smiles, the other group had real smiles. But both smiling groups were found to have lower heart rate than the control group after performing a stressful task. The researchers suggest that moving your facial muscles sends a message to your brain that can influence your mood. Whenever you can, try thinking of something that makes you smile. Even if you can’t manage a real smile, a fake smile will help as well.
14. Get the nutrients your body and brain need.
What you consume has an impact on not only how you look, but how you feel. You brain is connected to your gut and you gut is connected to your brain. If you fill your body with rubbish food it will lower your mental state and mood. On the flip side, if you nourish your body with healthy food and drinks you will be giving yourself the best chance of feeling good. If you don't always have time to cook health food, the In Shape Mummy Health Shake is a great solution to improving your mental state and mood.
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