The modern world demands much of a Mum. It asks that she perform her role at work as if she has no responsibilities outside of it. When at home, it asks her to parent and perform household duties as if she were not an employee or entrepreneur. And somewhere in between all the responsibilities of work, home and family life – she needs to make time for a relationship, too.
landscape of life is taking time to reflect on the stresses of the juggling act so many women perform. In today’s blog, we share useful ideas for managing stress and creating calm in the relentless ‘busy’ many Mothers experience as their norm, leaving them feeling overstretched and overwhelmed by responsibility. By choosing to prioritise wellbeing, life for Mums – and their families – can become more of a peaceful stroll with occasional sprints, rather than an all-out marathon challenge of ‘to-do’s. Here’s to you, Mums!
New World, Same Expectations
Whilst many Mums anecdotally report feelings of being overwhelmed and unsupported, the Pew Research Centre’s report from 2009 shows that 40% of working Mums always feel rushed, compared with 24% of working Dads. And it’s not just employed Mums who are feeling the pressure – 82% of stay-at-home-Mums say they feel frequently stressed.
APA’s comprehensive 2010 survey also reports on the physiological signs of stress. Women are more likely to report physical signs of stress – with 41% responding with headache, 44% feeling they could cry and 32% reporting stomach upset from emotional duress. Women are also more likely to eat as a way to manage their stress. Whilst discouraging, these factoids are hardly surprising: the modern Mother is simultaneously employed, caring for kids and ageing parents, making decisions for her family, taking care of the vast bulk of domestic tasks and attempting to be a good partner, parent, child and friend.
Life for a busy Mum is unlikely to become more streamlined in the short-term – but what can change the quality of a Mother’s life is placing a focus back on her wellbeing. Do you recognise any of the above physical signs of stress appearing in your own life? If so, don’t freak out! It is important for Mums to tune into their emotions, and to develop techniques to manage their stress response. This tuning in and taking positive action allows Mums to improve their own wellbeing and to enjoy better relationships with both her partner and her children. Children learn how to regulate their own emotions via their interactions with parents – so developing ways to manage your own stress and emotional wellbeing offers positive outcomes for the whole family too.
What Is Stress?
Stress is the result of an imbalance between perceived demands made on us and our personal resources to deal with these demands. Stress can feel awful. The signs of stress can be physical, emotional, cognitive or behavioural and result from physiological changes that occur in our body in response to stress. Do you recognise the signs of stress you experience?
When was the last time you had a deep sleep, Mum? Inconsistencies in sleeping patterns can disrupt our stress hormones, sending our emotions haywire. To minimise stress, prioritise good sleep hygiene. Only you know how many hours of sleep you’ll need – we recommend planning for an additional hour of rest each night and develop a sleep ritual to help prepare you for sleep.
Love seven hours’ sleep? Plan for eight. Create a calming sleep ritual to prepare your body for rest and recuperation. This might include a bath or a comforting shower, the use of essential oils and calm lighting or meditation. It is important to minimise ‘blue light’ and devices such as phones and tablets two hours prior to bed too. Blue light depletes the melatonin our sleep inducing hormone. Technology can be your friend when it comes to catching z’s too: iPhone has a new ‘Bedtime’ alarm to help plan your sleep time.
Schedule Mum Self Care Time
Mother’s Day needn’t be the only day you take time to prioritise your own wellbeing. Having time that’s set aside purely for your own benefit can help reduce a sense of overwhelm and stress. Think about diarising a regularly massage or facial, gym time each week, blissy yoga, quiet walking, swimming or cycling. Prioritise yourself and you’ll soon feel the stress loosen its grip on your emotions.
Mindfulness is a popular buzzword for good reason: it’s the practice of focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn the developer of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction describes mindfulness as a 'means of paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.’
Kabat-Zinn's quote 'you can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf' beautifully articulates how life is always going to present us with challenges – it’s how we learn to respond to these challenges that dictate the quality of our life experience.
If you are curious about mindfulness, landscape of life recommends developing a mindfulness practice which integrates meditation; apps such as Calm or Smiling Mind can help. You could consider enrolling in a mindfulness course, too.
Steal Peaceful Moments, Daily
The best stress-busting strategies are those that can be easily integrated into the routine of your daily life. The practical integration of mindful awareness in the routines and ritual of your life is generally a good starting point. Our life circumstances are unique, so we need something that is going to work for us as we go about our day.
Finding opportunities to steal moments to reconnect with yourself is a part of this. If you’re finding it difficult to focus at work or at home, steal yourself away. Go for a brief walk, get outside or meditate for five minutes. You are allowed to prioritise your health and wellbeing, and such stolen moments reconnect you to yourself.