Tips to cope with the stressors of being a mum
Know what your triggers are and what helps you to de-stress
Learning what triggers you to feel stressed can enable you to prepare and/or prevent you from feeling overwhelmed, and being aware of what helps you to relax can assist you in putting together a ‘coping plan’. Start by listing some activities you can easily do that you know will help to relax you (this could include talking to a friend on the phone, or making yourself a cup of coffee or tea). Understandably it can be hard to find the opportunity to de-stress if you have a mountain of chores or a crying baby to attend to, but prioritising time to do a quick check-in with yourself (e.g. attending to how you feel emotionally and physically every day) as soon as you get the chance to, can help you to identify warning signs, and prompt you to enlist help from friends or family.
Make time for yourself
Self-care shouldn’t be overlooked. Taking time out for yourself is sometimes perceived as selfish and can generate feelings of guilt, but looking after yourself is crucial both for your own wellbeing and that of your family. It may be challenging to find the time to engage in something you enjoy, but even scheduling in a small activity that you can find pleasure and value in at the end of a long day, can provide you with something to look forward to, and may help you to get through the day.
Expect to experience different emotions
A never-ending list of chores, a constant sense of feeling busy and a lack of sleep for a lot of mums, is a recipe for stress! This will likely leave you feeling overwhelmed with a whole host of emotions. But take comfort in knowing that it is completely normal to experience a range of emotions, both good and bad.
Sleep, Diet, Exercise
When the opportunity allows, get as much sleep as you can, wherever you can. Many mums have often shared collective advice of trying to sleep when your baby sleeps. Sleep deprivation can have detrimental impacts on both your physical and mental health, and can increase your susceptibility to stress and irritability.
Exercising and maintaining a balanced diet is also important, as moving your body, eating well and ensuring you stay hydrated will provide you with the energy you need, as well as ensuring that you aren’t overlooking your physiological needs.
If you aren’t at your best physically, then you won’t be at your best emotionally, and this is likely to have a knock-on effect on your ability to perform (either at work or at home).
Make time to connect with the people that matter to you & build on your relationships
As the demands and chores of home and work-life builds, understandably certain relationships in your life may take a back seat. Mums often feel most occupied when their children are young and require extra attention. Being a mum and attending to your child’s needs may often leave you with little energy to spend with friends or family (or even your partner). Finding quality time to spend with the people that matter to you may therefore be challenging, but any efforts towards maintaining meaningful connections can be crucial towards your own wellbeing, both in the short and long term.
Talk about how you’re feeling & reach out if you need help
Recognising and acknowledging how you are feeling can be a big step towards helping mums to reach out when they need help. A lot of people, including mums, often worry about opening up to others about how they are feeling and often assume that no one else is struggling or feeling the same way. Feeling stressed and overwhelmed is a perfectly normal and common experience of being a mum. For some people, asking for help feels bothersome and uncomfortable, but often we don’t realise that there are likely to be people around us that are eager and willing to help out. And as the act of helping others can also in itself be a way to boost wellbeing and confidence. Allowing someone the opportunity to help you out in some way may actually mean you are returning the favour.
Find a support group
Joining a support group, either in person or online, can be a really helpful way for mums to connect with others mums who are in a similar situation. For many mums, devoting the majority of their time towards their families, means they forget or lack opportunities to invest time towards their social needs. Therefore having the opportunity to meet and converse with other women who may be experiencing the same stress and strains as you, could help to normalise how you may be feeling as well as help you to feel less alone. Another benefit of joining support groups is also the opportunity to meet new mums and possibly build new friendships.
There’s no doubt that being a mum, especially a first-time mum, can bring with it a mixture of feelings and emotions. Every mother has likely experienced some degree of stress, self-doubt and anxiety at some point in their life. So remember, if you are experiencing stress or are feeling overwhelmed – it’s ok and you’re not alone. Aim to dedicate some time for yourself and enlist help if you need to.
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