I’m a natural worrier, prone to bouts of stress and anxiety. I was full of angst as a teen, and in my twenties spent far too much time worrying about things that didn’t really matter – mostly whether I was good enough or what other people thought of me.
Surprisingly when I had children I wasn’t a neurotic mother. I didn’t obsess over the temperature of their room, or whether they’d eaten enough. But I found my stress levels rose in other areas of my life. The pile of laundry getting bigger by the hour would fill me with dread, the balancing of a new career in photography with a new 5 month old baby felt challenging, another meal to prepare to feed to the children and throw away before the repetitive clean up started all over again was frustrating.
Simple tasks, which, on their own, were totally manageable, would mount up and overwhelm me. It took some time for me to find a way to manage this, to get to a place where I felt more balanced. Through some simple practices, I really feel I’ve come out of the fog and am on the road to finding peace.
- Forge and fuel friendships. Going it alone is so much harder than holding the hands of the women around you. As mothers, community is so important. Life with children can be exhausting and frustrating as much as it can be beautiful and fulfilling. Sharing the highs and the lows with other women in a similar season to you will help you through the tough times and make the good times that bit sweeter.
- Immerse yourself in nature. Nature is a healer. If ever I feel overwhelmed, sad, stressed or even happy I like to go outside and smell the flowers, look up at the way light trickles through tree tops and listen to birdsong. It’s a grounding practice and one that never fails to restore me to a calmer place.
- Find some solitude, cultivate the space for a relationship with yourself. If you don’t invest in yourself, nurture your sense of self or give yourself time to just be, at one, with you, you are less likely to tune in and listen to your gut instincts. Less likely to notice when you need to rest and more likely to keep on keeping on without truly looking after yourself. Build in time just for you whenever you can and spend that time focusing on what you want rather than working your way through chores.
- Yoga, meditation, exercise. Take some exercise, whether that’s stretching out and doing some yoga or going on a walk, taking time out and tuning into your body and how it feels. Exercise helps to let go of any tension and release good endorphins into your bloodstream, reducing the stress hormone cortisol.
- Drink some water. If you feel things getting too much take a moment to sip a glass of water mindfully. Notice the feeling of the glass in your hand, the coolness of the water against your lips, the cleansing motion of it trickling down your throat.
- Breathe. That sounds obvious doesn’t it. But taking in some mindful deep, cleansing lungfuls of air for a few minutes will help to lower your heart rate and rebalance you.
- Essential oils. I use essential oils to help reduce stress and anxiety. This blend is great to promote relaxation and calm.
- Let go of perfection. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself, you can’t do it all and you can’t please everyone all the time. Your needs matter too. Lower your expectations and learn to be happy with who you are now. We will never be perfect, there will always be things left on our to do lists and the laundry is inevitably a task that never gets completed. Don’t sweat it so much.
- Learn to say ‘no’. This took me years to get better at but learning to say ‘no’ to some things really helps when it comes to feeling overwhelmed. Every single mum friend I have takes on too much in an effort to stay on top of everything and please everyone. The truth is though, sometimes we can’t do it all in this season of our lives. It can get too much so understanding when you need to say no and doing so gently and with kindness is a skill worth learning.