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If you’re a mom, there’s not even a slight chance that you’ve been entirely stress-free up to this point. It’s stressful and overwhelming trying to keep up with everything.
You’re not alone. Stress is a major issue in America, and it causes a multitude of health problems.
These days, moms juggle so many different roles and responsibilities that it’s entirely too common to feel stressed and anxious on a daily basis.
So what can we do about it? Well, unfortunately, you can’t remove all of the things (or people) that cause the stress – nor would you want to! But you can arm yourself with some of my favorite stress management techniques.
And if you’re intentional about implementing these sanity-saving stress management techniques for overwhelmed moms, I know that you, too, can be a calmer, less-stressed momma.
Eventually you’ll even get to the point where you don’t allow much of anything to stress you out! Doesn’t that sound amazing? I want that for you 🙂
What is Stress?
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
I’m sure you already know what stress is, but let’s get on the same page from the get-go.
At its most basic, stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure.
According to the NIH, stress also involves the body’s response to physical, mental, or emotional pressure. It causes chemical changes in the body that can raise blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels. It may also lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, anger, or depression.
Stress can be caused by normal life activities or by an event, such as trauma or illness. Long-term stress or high levels of stress may lead to mental and physical health problems.
No matter which way you slice it, stress is bad for your mind, body, and soul.
I’d also like to throw in here that if you’re struggling with intense stress levels and are worried about your mental health, please, please, PLEASE speak with your healthcare provider. I’m not a professional – although I deal with stress constantly and these techniques work for me, they may not work for you.
Benefits of Having Simple Ways to Fight Stress
Motherhood can test your patience and self-control like no other. When you’re able to manage your stress, you and your family will reap the benefits, which include:
- Positive mindset and self-talk
- Increased self-confidence
- Less stress (obviously – this is why you’re here!)
- Stronger relationships
- Fewer mood swings
And the best part? Your kids will remember the happiest version of you – not the nagging, raging, meanie version of mom that sometimes shows her face.
What? Is it just me? Am I the only one who’s not so nice when she’s stressed?!?!
I know that you want these positive results for yourself and your family. Check out the tips below, and get the stress relief you need to thrive – not just survive.
Stress Management for Moms – The Techniques
#1 – Name Your Stressors and Plan Ahead
The first thing you’ll need to do is pin down the root cause of your stress by categorizing certain parts of your life.
Is there a particular time of day that you feel more stressed? Specific things your kids do? Areas of the house that make you anxious?
Pinpointing areas of stress allows you to create a plan to handle the root causes.
Yes, it can be tricky to do this. A mom’s life isn’t always straightforward, and it can feel like one thing is stressing you out, but deep down, it’s something entirely different.
Dinnertime stresses me out. It’s frustrating to plan meals that the kids don’t eat. Cooking feels like a huge chore. The kids are “staaaarrrrving,” so I’m trying to keep them from having snacks so that they’ll eat their dinner. And because they’re hungry, they’re cranky and fighting, and I’m trying to handle their squabbles and not burn the onions that I’m sauteing… And on and on it goes.
And because I’m in the thick of it, I find myself unable to pause, breathe, and make good choices.
Because I’ve determined that this is something that causes stress in my life, I’m able to plan ahead. Meal planning helps, as does keeping a list of meals that my whole family will eat. Freezer meals also help – I’m able to prep during a time when we’re not crabby and hungry, and cooking is a breeze.
Once you’ve determined your stressors, plan ahead to keep them at bay.
#2 – Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing calms your mind and body. It helps you relax and think clearly. Plus, you can do it anywhere – even in the checkout line at the grocery store.
When you feel yourself getting stressed, pause and take a few slow, deep breaths. Breathe in deeply as you count to 7, hold for 7, and then breathe out while counting to 7 again.
While you’re exhaling, if it’s possible (which it might not be in the checkout line at the grocery store!), imagine all of the stress and overwhelm flowing away from you.
I know – it seems too easy. But it really works! Just the act of pausing and focusing on something other than the stressor keeps you from saying or doing something you’ll need to apologize for later.
The best part? Your kids can do it too! It’s a great coping tool that’s easy for you to teach and for them to implement.
#3 – Slow Down
What? How are you supposed to do that? There are schedules and deadlines and a house to clean and kids to feed…
But if you’re feeling pressured by time constraints, it’s probably time to take some things off your plate. It’s hard to complete tasks when you’re feeling stressed out because there’s never enough time.
Re-evaluate your priorities and start saying “no” to things that you don’t want or need to do. I’m sure there’s at least one thing on your calendar this week that you can skip – find it and use that time to relax or do something that YOU enjoy – without guilt.
#4 – Brain Dump
The act of writing everything down on paper is a HUGE calming technique.
My favorite method is to take a plain white piece of paper, and then take 10 or 15 minutes to write down everything I can think of that needs to be done or that I’ve been meaning to get around to. I mean EVERYTHING. Even the things that I know I won’t get to this week or month.
Try it! If it’s in your head, put it on the paper – don’t censor yourself!
After that, you can categorize or write the items on your calendar to get them done at a specific time – there’s no right or wrong way.
I put all of mine into a master task list, and then I choose certain items to be pulled into my planner to complete each week.
I strongly recommend this tip – I think you’ll love it!
#5 – Journal
Similar to a brain dump, journaling allows you to get everything that’s on your mind off your mind by putting it on paper or a computer screen (although paper is significantly more helpful).
Just write like you’re talking to a friend, and get it all out.
The great thing about journaling is that it can help you sort your thoughts as well. If your stress is caused by a decision that needs to be made, it’s extremely helpful. It also works well for getting worries and struggles out of your head.
Journaling is such a simple stress reliever that it’s often overlooked and underrated. Once you begin journaling regularly, you’ll feel a physical weight being lifted off of your shoulders.
#6 – Do Something That Makes You Happy
Mom life often ends up being a monotonous routine of serving others over and over again, with very little time and energy left over for you.
Find one thing to do that will make you happy. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive – just consider the first few things that come to mind.
Sit on your porch and read for a bit – add a cup of coffee, and this is my favorite way to take a break and take care of ME during the day. Do an easy craft that you bought all of the supplies for but haven’t gotten around to. Some crazy people find joy in cleaning out a drawer or closet – if that’s you, do that!
You’ll be amazed at how beneficial it can be to take some time for yourself.
#7 – Take Care of Your Body
Sleep – Oh, sleep. This one can be the most challenging because it takes too much time! It’s one of the first things to go when life starts to get crazy.
Sometimes it seems like the only time moms can get some peace and quiet is to sacrifice sleep. And sometimes you have a little one who wants to party like a rockstar all. night. long.
Unfortunately, sleep is necessary, so it needs to be prioritized to keep stress at bay. It refreshes your entire body, keeps you healthy, and helps with anxiety and depression – among a host of other benefits.
Want to reduce the stress in your life? GET ENOUGH SLEEP.
Eat – Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. You don’t have to spend a fortune on organic produce, just be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. And stay away from processed foods and added sugar as much as possible.
In other words, a few half-eaten chicken nuggets washed down with black coffee does NOT make for a healthy lunch!
Drink Water – Your body is made primarily of water, and, simply put, you need water for it to function.
Beyond that, water helps your circulation and digestion, cushions your body parts to keep them safe, and helps your cognitive function and your mood.
Put a big jug of water in a spot that you walk by often, and drink from it every time you see it.
#8 – Exercise
Yes, this is technically part of taking care of your body, but it’s so important that I’m going to separate it.
If you don’t already work out, this could be the biggest game changer for you. Beyond the physical benefits of exercise, it releases endorphins that help improve your mood and reduce anxiety. You should exercise all the time, whether you’re stressed or not, but it’s especially important when you’re stressed.
It doesn’t have to be fancy – no need for a gym membership or special equipment. You simply need to move your body. This could look like going for a 20-minute walk, or it could look like yoga or intentional stretching.
If you’re feeling the stress, but don’t have time for a workout, try a 5-minute dance party – put on some happy music and dance with the kids. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel – plus your kids will love it too!
Find what makes you feel your best, and be consistent!
#9 – Read
Adding reading into your daily routine is an easy way to relieve stress.
You can gain useful knowledge, get inspired with motivational memoirs, or simply detach from reality for a while with a fun fiction book.
Fit it in wherever you can – first thing in the morning with coffee, during an afternoon break, or at night right before bed. Or listen to an audiobook while cleaning or on your commute to and from work or school.
As a fun motivator, join the Goodreads Reading Challenge, and reward yourself if you hit your reading goals! Feel free to follow me – I’ll follow back 🙂
#10 – Get Outside
Fresh air and sunshine are ALWAYS a good idea. Yes, even in the winter. Nature is magical.
Sunlight in particular does wonders for your mood and overall health. Even just a few minutes in the sun has positive effects!
But don’t let cloudy days keep you indoors – there are still plenty of benefits, and cloudy nature is still magical.
Go for a walk, weed the veggie garden, take the kids to the playground or on a hike, sit on the porch and read… The options are limitless, and every single one of them is good for you!
#11 – Do the Next Right Thing
Forget about the big picture and the whole day or week or school year. Focus on the next step and the next step ONLY. One tiny thing on your to-do list. Or not – your “next right thing” could be to take a break to refresh and refocus.
When you’re stressed and overwhelmed by daily life, you need to start somewhere. What’s the next right thing?
For me, it’s usually dishes – sad, but true. I find that when my kitchen is under control, I feel more in control.
For you, it could be taking that break I talked about earlier. Or starting a load of laundry – and just worrying about that one load (NOT the 14 loads that need to come after it!). Or cleaning the LEGO bricks off of the living room floor – and only the living room floor.
Narrow your focus to what will be most helpful to you in the present moment, and go for it.
#12 – Take 15 Minutes for Yourself – Alone – Every Day
When you have little ones who are constantly on top of you, it’s smothering. Even if your kids are a little older and you’re mostly past that stage, they’re still always there, and you still need alone time.
But how? Because it’s definitely easier said than done to find 15 minutes in your day for you to be alone.
Use the first few minutes of naptime, if that’s still a thing in your house. Or park them in front of the TV for a show (yes, it’s okay!). Hand them off to your husband when he comes home from work. Whatever it takes for you to get some time to yourself, do it.
This is where you’re typically told to take a bubble bath, paint your nails, or do a face mask. But none of those things are for me, and I’m not here to recommend those “typical” forms of self-care.
Sit in a quiet room and breathe. Read a book. Close your eyes for a quick snooze. Do something that benefits your well-being or refreshes you.
If this feels extravagant to you or makes you feel guilty, don’t let it. If you aren’t okay, you won’t be at your best for those kiddos!
#13 – Do A Tech Fast
It seems like we’re constantly on our phones checking something, whether it’s texts, emails, Facebook, or the news.
Sometimes, you just need a break from all of that input. Most of it’s negative and stressful anyway.
Pick a couple of hours a day to unplug. Better yet, choose a day or two per week. Take a break from the negative Facebook posts, depressing news, and fear of missing out on what’s happening on the internet.
Rescue stress by unplugging – as much and as often as you can. Shut off your phone and computer, and walk away.
#14 – Count Your Blessings
Stress has a magical ability to keep you focused on the negative things in your life. To counteract this, focus on your blessings – it will ultimately make you a much happier, much less stressed person.
Think of 3 to 5 things that you’re grateful for. It doesn’t matter how big or small they are. You can do this in your head or on paper – it doesn’t matter.
Practicing gratitude keeps your mind on what you already have, instead of what you lack. And being intentional about staying in the present helps to keep the stress away.
#15 – Take the Day Off
Sometimes you just need a mental health day.
I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but we’re going to slow down to go fast here.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling extremely stressed, when my body has that buzzy, unfocused, anxious feeling that I just can’t shake, and when I’m filled with guilt over the inability to do all the things, I force myself to stop what I’m doing COMPLETELY, and sit down with a cup of coffee or tea.
This little thing will help you clear your mind and reset your motivation to try all over again. Kind of like a fresh start.
Breathe, focus on your soothing coffee or tea, and reflect on this moment. And if a quick 15-minute coffee break doesn’t work? Scrap the day, and start again tomorrow.
#16 – Clean Your House
This is another big stress reliever that seems like it can’t possibly make you less stressed.
But it works.
If your house is messy and/or dirty, you’ll feel more overwhelmed and stressed out by the physical clutter. So cleaning up a bit will ultimately decrease your stress levels.
Also, the act of cleaning your house gets your body moving, and we’ve already discovered how that can relieve stress.
Two birds, one stone.
#17 – Use Mantras and Affirmations
Having affirmations at the ready for stressful times prepares you in advance. Find some mantras or affirmations today that make you feel happy or positive, write them on sticky notes, and place them strategically around your house – your desk, your bathroom mirror, your nightstand.
When you’re feeling stressed, you’ll see these little notes of positivity wherever you go in your home. Read them out loud.
Here are some of my favorites:
- I am enough.
- It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.
- I am grateful for everything I have in my life.
- I am constantly improving my life and the lives of those around me.
- Today is an awesome day.
- Happiness is a choice, and today I choose to be happy.
#18 – Forgive Yourself
As moms, we’re so very hard on ourselves. A lot of my own stress comes from high expectations. But whose expectations am I trying to live up to? And why?
We put so much pressure on ourselves to do and be all of the things to all of the people. But that’s impossible.
You have to choose a few things to focus on and let go of the rest. And then forgive yourself for letting go.
Give yourself some grace. You’re doing your best. You are enough.
Managing stress is one of the most important things we can do for our happiness and well-being – and yes, even our physical health will improve with less stress.
The downside is that managing stress isn’t a one-off event. You’ll need to work on it almost every day. Luckily, there are a lot of great techniques that you can use to help reduce stress fairly quickly and easily.
By being intentional about maintaining a calmer, less anxious life, I know that you’ll be able to get that stress under control!
What’s one of your favorite stress management techniques that I forgot to mention? Let me know in the comments!