So I thought I’d take a minute to write a little about something I have in common with every other human on the planet: Stress. Raise your hand if you’ve felt “stressed out” in the past week. The past day? The past hour? Keep that hand up– you know where this is going.
And here’s the thing about stress: it can come from anywhere. I can feel stressed because of anything from traffic on the way to a meeting, my daughter’s health, clothes that shrunk in the dryer, family arguments or miscommunications, to fears or anxieties going on within my own mind. Nobody is exempt from feeling this way, and it actually probably is a sign that we are intelligent enough to be taking our lives seriously (A Plus). If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that becoming a parent takes this stress to a whole other level. It’s completely overwhelming to have everything we take on in our lives already, and then to have trying to successfully raise our children lumped on top of it.
For example, right now I am writing this in my bed with a broken foot, a ten month old baby, a husband out of town, and a group of friends on speed dial who have been nice enough to bring me food and help give my daughter a bath at night. But here’s the thing, nobody “wins” when it comes to stress or anxiety. Stress is relative, and nobody has more of a right to this feeling than you or me. It just is. But I have found a few things that help me when I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I hope they help you, too!
1. Don’t spiral. It’s easy to allow stress to accumulate to the point where it feels dramatic and is a “good story”. Nobody wins points for being the most stressed-out or anxious person you know. Try to focus on the solution and the solution only, and take the first step to making things easier or better for yourself. It feels good to save your own day!
2. Make sure you eat and drink water. This sounds so dumb but really can be a culprit at times. Feeling really fragile? When is the last time you ate a little something with protein? I keep trail mix and a bottle of water in my car for this exact reason. And then I eat it all and get anxious about needing to replace it. Working on this.
3. Admit it. My mother once gave me great advice about jealousy. She said if you’re feeling jealous about something somebody is telling you, come clean right away! Say something to the person like “Oh man, I am so jealous that you get to do that!”, and it will immediately diffuse your feeling of jealousy. Seriously, try it. I do the same thing when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Instead of acting grouchy or keeping everything inside until I implode, I just admit it. I say “I’m feeling SO overwhelmed right now, I just feel like I could cry” and right away I feel better. Sure, most of the time I say this to a two foot tall person with one tooth, but it still works!
4. Close your eyes and breathe. Obviously not when you’re driving, ok? But I have found closing my eyes and taking deep breaths to be an excellent way of centering myself and calming my heart rate. Try to smile when you do this, even when you don’t feel like it. I use an essential oil blend by doTerra called “Serenity” that includes Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Hawaiian Sandalwood, and Vanilla oils. I put a drop on my wrists or a couple of drops on my shirt when I need a little bit of help relaxing.
5. Delegate. I’m terrible at this. It’s really my greatest challenge. But I have found that my stress levels go waaaaay down when I’ve allowed other people to help me. Is there just one thing you can take off of your plate and give to somebody who loves you? Do it! You won’t regret it. Remember that we aren’t less capable parents if we do it with a little help– the goal is to enjoy our lives with all of its components!
(Photographs by Nina Suh for Love And Lemonade Photography)