I am a master's-level social worker with experience ranging from therapeutic services with children and families to medical care.
Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a high-powered executive mother, or somewhere in the middle, your life is bound to have stressful moments. In fact, a whopping 70% of U.S. mothers say that mothering is "incredibly stressful." In addition, 96% believe that they are far more stressed than their own mothers were. The fact is, the shoulders of today's mother are heavy, loaded down with financial responsibilities, family obligations, thoughts of how best to protect little ones from the perils of the world and much, much more. With all these worries, finding some zen can be a real challenge. Learning to manage stress is, however, an essential part of parenting. Stress affects maternal health, which in turns affects the child and family. In addition, how a mother manages stress is often a model for the rest of the family.
Stress Relief for the New Mother
When most consider the stress of motherhood, their mind immediately conjures up images of the new parent. These include first timers as well as those seasoned parental professionals. The birth a of a baby is a challenge for every parent. The physical, hormonal, emotional, and psychological changes that accompany birth can leave you feeling exhausted, frustrated, worried and elated all at once. For first time parents in particular, newborns can be quite intimidating. It is, therefore, essential that parents take care of themselves during those early months. Begin motherhood on the right foot by:
1. Getting some shut-eye. Sleep deprivation is the perfect way to increase your stress and make your voyage into parenthood a very painful experience. Rest when your little one is napping. Even if you can't actually sleep, close your eyes, breath deep, and relax.
2. Eating nutritious food. It can be tempting to rely on fast food or pig out on whatever happens to be available during those early days. Junk food, alcohol, and caffeine are actually associated with sleep disturbances. Blood sugar spikes and feeling as if you have "crashed" increases anxiety.
3. Exercising moderately. Both you and your new baby will enjoy a brisk walk outside. 20 to 30 minutes a few days per week is all it takes to reduce stress and anxiety.
4. Being prepared for the unpredictable. There will be days when you will be overwhelmed. This is normal. It doesn't mean you are a bad parent and it doesn't mean that every day will feel that way.
5. Getting help. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your extended network of family and friends. Accept those offers for babysitting and meal preparation.
Quick Stress Management Tips
• Listening to music can be relaxing
• Take time out for a hobby or two
• Exercising several times a week can reduce stress and tension.
• Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol. These can actually increase stress.
• Avoid watching the news before going to bed.
• Look for the good things that happen each day and be thankful.
• Do a good deed. Giving IS better than receiving.
• Be forgiving person. Remember this includes forgiving yourself when necessary.
• Don’t hold grudges.
• Keep in mind that no one is perfect, we all make mistakes.
• Try to take one day at a time and remember tomorrow is another day.
Stress Relief for the Working Mother
The pressures of modern motherhood include work outside the home for many mothers. According to a 2009 report from Pew Research Center, 40% of working mothers say they always feel rushed and 99% say their schedules stress them out. Thankfully, despite the frazzled comings and goings, tight schedules, and outside obligations, most working mothers also report that they are quite happy with their busy 21st century lives.
1. Don't feel guilty that you're not at home when you're at work (and don't feel guilty that you're not at work when you're at home). Guilt is one of the biggest emotions reported by career mothers. Learn to manage your working mom guilt by being there when it counts the most, leaving work at work, and finding one-on-one quality time when you can.
2. Give yourself a break. Balancing motherhood and a career can be a real challenge and there will be times when things just don't come together perfectly. Expecting perfection from yourself at all times is just not realistic. Cut yourself some slack when necessary.
3. Keep those thoughts positive. It's easy to dwell on all the things you didn't do or see and what you were not able to give your child. Instead of dwelling on these, dwell on the positive. Think of all the opportunities you are giving your child. Develop a sense of pride for being able to provide your child with the things he/she needs. Remember, your child probably views daycare as the most amazing playtime and they would much rather see a less stressed mommy than have you actually with them 24/7.
4. Share the load when possible. Being a working mother doesn't mean there is less to do at home. Share that workload with daddy whenever possible.
Stay-At-Home Moms and Stress Relief
There are many that believe being a stay-at-home mom is an easy job. This is far from the truth, however. Being a stay-at-home mother comes with its own set of pressures and stresses. It is an occupation in itself. Managing children around the clock, cooking, cleaning, running errands -- all of these things take time, patience, and effort. In addition, some stay-at-home mothers find themselves in the rut of routine which can lead to utter and complete boredom.
Some great tips for stay-at-home moms to reduce stress include:
1. Find local playgroups to attend with the kids. This will allow you to interact with other grown ups while the kids are at play. Mothers are far more than just mothers. They are multifaceted human-beings with hopes, dreams, and desires that extend beyond their children. The opportunity to view themselves as more can go a long way to increasing a mother's self confidence.
2. Stay organized. A chaotic day can be highly stressful. Though they cannot be completely avoided, staying organized by sticking to schedules, making lists, and planning meals can go a long way to lessening stress. Consider scheduling playtime with the kids, exercise, and any thing else that you prioritize as important.
3. Take time out for yourself. Know what helps you relax and do it. Stay-at-home moms deserve a break too. It is important that they have an outlet to manage stress.
4. Remember, even you are not supermom. Regardless of what your kids may think, you too are only human. The supermom mentality creates unrealistic expectations and these expectations create undue stress. Don't try to do it all.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
KC Pickens on August 11, 2016:
Awesome article! I've found that nutrition and what we eat or don't eat can greatly affect our stress. Check out this article: https://hubpages.com/health/Nutrition-for-Anxiety-...
Jen Dotter on January 26, 2015:
Great meaningful reminders to not forget about ourselves. I think my biggest sin as a mother is forgetting to make time for me, take care of myself, and let others help me. I'm a very independent person who sometimes irrationally thinks she can do it all. Thank you for this!
consilia from United Kingdom on February 21, 2013:
Being a mum is one of the toughest jobs around, and the realisation that it is so hard can be difficult to come to terms with. Thank you for taking the time to highlight that it isn't always easy.