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8 Tips on Managing Stress - Busy Mama Tested and Approved!

Friday, 19 December 2014

My fellow Mamas, I just had the week from hell!!! To tell you the truth I don't know precisely why; it may be because I came down with a bad cold for the past two weeks, and didn't have the strength, patience and energy to manage my two rowdy sons (a.k.a. little destroyers) in addition to my nursing daughter. Or, maybe it's because I'm always trying to give my 200% to make everything perfect. But, as we all know, nothing ever happens as planned, and usually for a good reason.

Now I'm on mat leave, but when working full-time, a typical day for me would look something like this... Early wake-up call at 6 am, rush and get ready to catch the GO train, work 8-10 hours (often stressful depending on the day), then head home for some time with my family. Then, hopefully if the GO train is not late or stuck somewhere because of "unexpected" snow or ice, I pick up my son from daycare and head home. My youngest is at home at this time and is all over me as soon as I walk in the door. And, I'm glad he is. But it's time to walk the dog and get dinner ready. My husband usually works late, so it's all up to me to play with the boys, clean up, put them to bed and all the other stuff on the never-ending to-do list.

Sound familiar?

Now that we have a nanny, things of course are much more manageable, but it is still very chaotic and stressful at most times with 3 kids under the age of four, a nursing infant, and an unstoppable toddler at home who is always on the look-out for trouble. (Hubby works late most times and often works Sundays as well.)

So, this past Saturday morning it was time - my meltdown out of the blue. My husband didn't see it coming, but I'm no superwoman!

Before I had kids, my way of decompressing would be to go out dancing or going to a dance class. Unfortunately, this highlight of my life is not feasible now and has been replaced with three additional dazzling highlights - my kids. And therefore, I've tried and learned different de-stressing techniques to enjoy time with my family at home and be in the moment. So, here are some tips that will hopefully help you during your "I'm not a superwoman!" days, which do not involve eating chocolate, screaming at your kids at the top of your lungs, or talk therapy a.k.a. b;%!?$ to friends about your crazy life at home.

Tip #1 - Get realistic and comfortable saying "no" to non-priority tasks or activities. If registering your child for another activity (in addition to 5 he has already) is too much for you to handle at this point, then maybe you should wait until life at home is a bit more manageable.

Tip #2 - Take care of yourself. It's no secret that if you aren't at your best physically and emotionally, then you won't be able to perform at your best with your kids, family, or at work. So, make and take the time to do small meaningful things for yourself, such as going to yoga to de-compress and get in shape, treat yourself to a mani-pedi, or simply grab a coffee outside the house while reading your favourite magazine or book.

Tip #3 - Laugh at the things that don't always work out. Next time you're stuck in traffic and experiencing road rage, remember that you can't do anything about it. So, might as well turn up the radio/cd and enjoy the ride with or without the kids in the car!

Tip #4 - Learn to let go. This should probably be #1 on the list as most of us don't know how to let go. Not doing the dishes one night, washing the floors twice instead of three times a week, and letting your kids eat with their hands sometimes is okay. Some battles are better to be lost. So, please, really try to let go when it comes to unimportant things in your everyday life.

Tip #5 - Have faith. Feel blessed. Look on the brighter side of things. After a hard and stressful day at work, being tired, hungry and resentful, think about how blessed you are to have a wonderful family to come home to, beautiful kids. Appreciate people and meaningful things in your life, otherwise life will pass you by.

Tip #6 - Take a moment to yourself. When I feel very stressed at home and have no more patience left, I know to recognize that moment and stay quite and still. I know that it is much better for me to take 5 minutes of not saying or doing anything (i.e. not screaming at anybody, getting upset over stupid things, and so on) to control and manage the situation in the best possible way.

Tip #7 - Make time for date nights. To keep your marriage or partnership solid, you need to make time for it. Even if it is just 1-2 hours a week to the two of you at home with a glass of wine by a fireplace, it is still important. (Although if you can, I recommend leaving the house. You really need a change of scenery sometimes especially if one of you is at home on maternity or paternity leave.)

Tip #8 - Give a 6-second hug. Research show that if you hold a hug for at least six seconds, you optimize the flow of mood-boosting/bonding chemicals. Studies also support that people who hug more are happier. Apparently, babies who are hugged more experience better physical development. And, children who get hugged often are smarter. "We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth." So, try it out, and let me know if it works for you!

And if all of the above fails, here are some more tips that always do the trick:)...
  • Have some chocolate - once in a while of course:)
  • Let it all out - crying does help (when not alone especially, with hubby works best I find)
  • Cover your kids with hugs and kisses, and enjoy the moment
  • Get some sleep the moment you can, most likely you need it!

Here is what our readers had to say on the subject of managing stress...
  • All of our respondents are perfectionists:) and are mainly stressed when at work - I must say, I'm not surprised.
  • When asked "What (or who) would you eliminate to make your life less stressful?", here is what they had to say...
- One of my coworkers
- Family that shows up unannounced and expects to be seen
- Work
  •  Here is what our readers suggest...
- Take a deep breath before doing something
- Have a good sense of humour
- Exercise, spend time with friends and time alone

And, what does research say on the subject of managing stress? You'd be surprised to read about these scientifically proven stress fixes...
  • Smooch spontaneously - give your spouse or partner a kiss after a hard day at work as soon as you come home
  • Hold hands with your significant other
  • Have some tea - research shows that drinking tea helps with anxiety and stress, who knew? 
  • We need to hug our significant others (spouses/partners and children) more often - To read more on the benefits of hugging, check out:

Disclaimer: This post was written by Stella V. All opinions are my own.
Sources: "Brighter Baby" by co-author Jay Gordon; "Fun Facts about Hugging" by Dr. Mercola.

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