You know that feeling when you’re so stressed it feels like you don’t have time to breathe? Your house is cluttered with the kid’s shoes, laundry, and dog toys since you don’t have the energy to clean. You eat whatever’s in the back of the fridge or greasy pizza (yum!) because who has time to fix meals when life’s so busy? If this sounds like your life, learn my best tip on how to tame the stress for good.
Below is the podcast version of this article. The podcast explains things so much better than a blog post. I invite you to listen and also hear some examples and enjoy some laughs! You can subscribe to the Podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and typing “Balanced Working Moms” into the search or click here for a link to the podcast on iTunes.
When the Dial Gets Turned Up
Sometimes we feel so stressed, it almost feels like we won’t survive it. We’ll either collapse from exhaustion or we’ll have a heart attack because our hearts are pounding so hard.
Now, if this is a regular thing for you, Please consider seeing a therapist and get some help. You should not be feeling this way 24/7.
But if it’s a period in your life where things are more nuts than usual, then you’re right there with this sisterhood of working moms.
Stress happens. We know it’s going to happen. We don’t like it. We try to prevent it, but most of the time, it’s out of our control.
Saying “No” Isn’t the Answer
Most “experts” will tell you that the way to handle stress is to “say no.” Stop doing so much. But I disagree. First, this may not be realistic (someones gotta make dinner….). But also, the additional things you’re doing may be fueling you. They may make you feel like “you.”
I’m not going to tell you to stop being you.
No, my friend. Doing less is not the solution to every problem. And it’s not realistic, either.
I want you to still be yourself and still do the things that fuel you.
What To Do When the Dial Gets Turned Up?
Since I’m going to encourage you to enjoy your life and all the things you do, I’m not going to tell you to stop living. So what’s the answer?
How do you handle things when that dial gets turned up?
The answer is that you’ve got to dial up your self-care.
Imagine a gas stove. There are two burners. One represents your stress level and the other represents your self-care (and also your ability to cope).
As the stress goes up, your self-care needs to go up just as high, to match it. Or maybe even higher — that would be even better.
There’s no way.
How can you increase your self-care when you’re already stressed? You may be working 60 hour weeks and I have three kids under age 7. You may be thinking there’s no way in the world you can increase your self-care during this time.
But you see, if you’re thinking like that, you may not have heard some previous episodes/blog posts or maybe you forgot what self-care really is.
Self-care is about taking care of yourself, those little things you do every day so you feel good physically, mentally, and spiritually.
True Self-Care is what you do EVERY DAY so you can feel your best and enjoy the life you deserve.-Rina Meushaw
What Most People Do
How do you fit self-care into your life when you’re already stressed and too busy?
Usually, what do people do when they’re stressed?
-They eat badly. Ex. Stopping off at a coffee shop for a latte with extra espresso
-They stop exercising because they don’t have time
-No time for dinner so they order greasy pizza
-Their thoughts are filled with resentment and anger at whatever caused the stress
-Their house becomes a disaster zone because there’s no energy to clean
This is almost universal. Almost everyone does this. If you don’t, amazing!!
I can fall back onto these bad patterns, too.
What To Do Instead?
Instead of those bad patterns, I invite you to start shifting your thinking towards how to up your self-care dial when the stress dial goes up.
You’re going to be surprised how this one thought can shift everything.
And even if you don’t make your self-care burner as high as the stress burner, raising it even a little higher than it was before will help you.
Here are some examples just to show you that it’s possible and it’s not even difficult once you adopt this way of thinking.
- Instead of the latte, what if you increase your water consumption? It’s actually LESS work than making or buying a latte, so you see that what I’m promoting isn’t working harder, it’s shifting how you think and your habits.
- Instead of buying pizza for dinner, what if you buy a healthy soup? We have a wonderful restaurant in Takoma Park called Souper Girl and they make healthy, delicious soups. Imagine the difference.
- Instead of sitting at your desk, what if you take a 5 minute power walk?
Shifting Your Thoughts
Letting go of resentful thoughts can be the most impactful things you do to ease your stress. This can also be one is the hardest.
Here’s how to let go of those thoughts.
Replace your resentful thoughts with thoughts of self-compassion.
For example, if you’re upset that your workload is high due to tax season, instead of thinking angry thoughts about your workload, you replace them with a thought that a best friend would say to you. Something like “I’m so sorry you have a ton of work to do. You’re doing such a great job with it. You should be proud of yourself!!”
Imagine the impact if you can reduce some of your anger and resentment, replacing those thoughts with kindness towards yourself.
The next time it feels like the heat is going up in your life, remember to turn up the heat on your self-care.
This is going to make you laugh — but save your bad habits for when things are going well. Your body will better be able to handle those habits better.
But when your stress is high, that’s when you need to stick with as many healthy habits as you can.
Wishing you the best with this,