As a working mom, you may never have been this stressed in your entire life.
- You’re working from home and also trying to get your kids to stop watching YouTube during class.
- You’re in a meeting and finding your 2nd grader a pencil.
- Or you’re sending your kids to daycare and it feels like every other week it’s canceled due to a COVID scare.
In this post, we’re talking about what you’re possibly doing that’s making your stress level even worse.
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.
Every Day is Stressful
Every morning I wake up and I say a little prayer and set an intention for my day.
I say “let this be the day that I don’t feel stressed. That I feel joy and calm and zen.”
Do you offer this prayer, too?
I may start the day feeling zen but by 12pm, forget it. I’m a stressed-out Mom trying to stay calm and get it all done with my sanity intact.
And here’s the real problem. My stress never lets up. You know why it never let’s up?
One of the reasons is because I keep talking about it.
Talking About Problems
I have a friend whom I love dearly. She is the sweetest woman and would do anything for you. She has such an amazing heart and I love her.
But I notice something every time we get together.
Every single time we talk, the majority of our time together she’s complaining about her job.
This has been going on for over 10 years, at least.
It’s not just a sentence or two saying work is hard. It’s over half an hour, sometimes over an hour, going on and on about the details of her awful job.
And her job really does sound awful. I’m glad I don’t work there.
But I notice that over the years, we seem to get together less and less.
Her work (or more accurately, her complaining about her work) broke up our friendship.
I was thinking about her the other day because I miss her and love her.
And it made me dig deep into myself. I started wondering…..
How often do I do this?
How often do I also complain or vent about something, whether it’s work, Covid, the environment, whatever.
Let it out.
I realized that in our society, we have a belief that says it’s okay to “vent.”
And I agree, it’s okay to vent. But sometimes we cross the line. We vent endlessly.
And we justify it. We say “we’re just venting.”
Keeping You Stuck
The problem is that when this venting and rehashing doesn’t stop, we make the problem so much bigger.
It goes from a small mountain to something so big, no one can possibly scale it.
I’m curious if you have something that you complain or “vent” about, whether it’s work, Covid, or your husband.
Sure, it feels amazing at the time to get it out.
But is it possible that this venting is making the situation worse?
Where’s the line between venting and rehashing?
What the Research Says
This concept made me curious. Is it just me or do others also find that venting makes their stress levels worse?
When doing research, I learned that the concept of venting is actually a Freudian concept. In the Freudian context, anger is like a hydraulic press that if unreleased, builds up until it bursts.
However, according to the research I read, psychologists today tend to focus on neoassociation theory, which means that the more we talk, think, and look at things that make us angry, the angrier we feel. Makes sense!
When we vent, we’re rehashing our anger and it makes sense that discussing something that made us angry will cause us to continue to feel angry, or even feeling angrier than we’d been!
Don’t Keep Your Anger In
I’m not telling you to keep your anger inside yourself.
Even though I mentioned that the Freudian theory has been debunked, I do believe that anger should not sit in your heart or it’ll fester and make you sick. You have to get it out. But there are other ways to get it out of your body than to complain or vent.
I’m suggesting that you consider that continually talking about something you don’t want may be making it worse.
If you need to get stress, frustration, or anger out, consider:
- Resolving the problem!!! This solution is so basic but it often feels much better to complain than to fix the problem.
- Talking for a limited time. Maybe for 15 minutes with a friend or spouse.
- Journaling — this is HUGE!! When I’m upset, journaling about it is one of the best ways to get it out of my mind and body without negatively affecting someone else.
- Exercising. A simple walk can often help get the anger out of your system.
- Talking to a coach or other trained professional.
A Different Perspective
I hope this article gave you a new perspective on how to feel better without doing the thing you’ve been told your whole life is good for you! Venting almost always makes things worse.
Sure, if you want or need to vent for 15 minutes, it probably won’t cause harm and it’ll make you feel better. But if you usually vent for a long time, or you vent frequently, you may want to try and explore other ways to let the frustration out.
Give it a try and see if it helps make your anger, stress, and frustration a little more manageable.