Managing Stress and Avoiding Burnout in Motherhood
Mums are the world's best multitaskers but all of this responsibility can leave us feeling stressed, anxious, exhausted and burnt out. Louise Hurley gives us some tips on how to manage these feelings and some practical things we can do to manage stress.
Mums are the world’s best multitaskers – family, work, household, fitness, socialising, school… But all of this responsibility can leave us feeling stressed, anxious, exhausted and burnt out.
There’s no doubt about it, motherhood is a stressful job. And with the current coronavirus pandemic causing major upheaval in our day-to-day routines, our mental strength for dealing with stress can feel depleted.
Thankfully there are several strategies that we can adopt to help us manage these feelings of overwhelm as well as through the next few months and beyond.
Take a few moments to think about the following:
Identify How You Experience Stress
How do you know when you are stressed? Try to identify how your thoughts, your feelings and your behaviour is different when you are stressed.
Identify Your Stressors
What are the things that cause the most stress for you? Try to be as specific as possible.
Identify How You Respond To Stress
Think about the ways in which you respond to the stressful situations you just thought of. Are they helpful or unhelpful? Are they healthy or unhealthy? How would you ideally like to respond to these situations? Unhealthy or unhelpful reactions to stress build up over years so are difficult to change all at once. Focus on changing one thing at a time and don’t take on too much.
So what practical things can we do to help us manage stress?
Get Some Perspective and Prioritise
When we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed it can really help to take a moment of time-out to put everything into perspective and prioritise what needs to be done. Make time for what is really important to you and when possible, delegate tasks. What can family or friends help you with to lighten the load?
Take Control Where You Can
We often feel stressed over what we cannot control. The coronavirus is the perfect example of that at the moment. But there are certain things we can take control of; for example, our family’s fitness, health, activities, etc.
What healthy activities do you enjoy doing that help to reduce stress? As a fitness professional I always promote exercise as a form of stress relief, but it doesn’t have to be physically demanding. Meditation, crafts, breath work, the list goes on… Do whatever works for you.
Nutrition and Rest
Nourishing our bodies with fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and pulses and getting enough rest (I say “rest” as sometimes as mums we have little control over the amount of sleep we get) are ways that we can ensure we have enough in our tank to manage stressful situations and still look after our family. We can’t pour from an empty cup.
Sometimes it seems as though other mums are able to do it all, but behind the scenes we’re all experiencing the highs and lows of the motherhood rollercoaster. Nobody expects us to be super-mum; we usually put that expectation on ourselves.
Asking for and accepting help from family, friends or professional services is a necessary step in managing stress. If you feel as though you need professional help to manage stress in your life right now you may find these services helpful:
Louise runs Strong Mums in Gosford, NSW. She has a background in clinical and research psychology and became a mums’ fitness professional after having her first baby.