When Stress is High and Coming Relief is LOW: 4 things you can do to help yourself
Show me a busy mama that doesn’t have stress. Show me anyone who doesn’t have stress in life! Stress can be a good thing. It gets us up in the morning and keeps us going through the day, getting things done.
But the stress that I’m talking about today is the extra busy mama stress.
The stress of being in the trenches with your little one for too many days in a row
with not enough sleep,
not quite the proper diet,
not quite enough caffeine,
not enough exercise,
and not enough ALONE time.
The time alone where you are “off” duty for 2 blessed hours in a row.
That’s the kind of stress that I’m talking about. The day’s been long. The laundry is piling up. The things that you wanted to get done today STILL haven’t gotten done. Quality time with each child was forgotten because the crowd of the kids demanded your complete attention and you didn’t have the energy to create that space. You lost your cool again and yelled at your kids that you would on any day take a bullet for. Devotions have been forgotten, again. You fall into bed exhausted for the sixth day this week. You are overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, anger, loneliness, and exhaustion. I know that this has been me on my worst day and lets be honest on my best day.
When in the trenches with the little ones there are a few things I’ve learned and continue to learn. I love writing them down again and again, trying to keep them fresh in my memory. These 4 things are some of the triggers I look out for to help me get through theses weeks that look like, just plain stress.
- 1) Don’t judge your day as a success or a failure right before you go to bed. The worst possible time of day to figure out what you could have done differently and better today is bedtime. You are tired, drained, and hurting (physically, emotionally, mentally). When you are these things, trying to make a sound judgment call is nearly impossible. Busy mamas, turn off that inner dialogue of negative talk before you climb into bed. That dialogue that says … “If only you had tried harder at…” or “You really didn’t spend any time with ….” or “You are the worst mom ever, you didn’t…” or “You really should have ….” You can skip the exhausted tears of failure by guarding your mind before you crawl into bed. If your watching a TV show that is getting you on edge before bed = turn off the show earlier in the evening and read a devotion or listen to some worship music before bed. If your stumbling into bed wound up tight = go a little earlier through your bedtime routine and take a long hot shower to relax. The point is, know your triggers. Know that thing that sets off that negative inner dialogue, and do something a little different to stop it. Baby steps. For me, it’s staying up too late reading. I’m exhausted going to bed and that negative talk starts. I now set my cell phone alarm on in the evenings for an alarm to tell me it’s time to start going up to bed.
- 2) An Attitude of Gratitude. This goes hand in hand with #1. To combat the negative talk, or attitude in your heart. Start by listing things in your head or on paper about all the thing that you DID do right today! And repeat them over and over. I love this concept and the power that your own words have over your life. I wont rewrite the book because Ann Voskamp did a wonderful job explaining this in her bestselling book “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.”
- 3) Keep on Talking. When stress is high and your days are long, keep on talking to the One who cares. Prayer is life changing. When your in the trenches of the busyness of life and feel like no one notices all these details or even cares. God does! And prayer is our way of communicating with Him. Tell Him about your day, what your going through. About the things you understand completely, and the things that make no sense at all. Sometimes when I’m on that edge of stress where I feel like I can’t take it anymore, and if I remember to pray instead of losing it, it is such a relief to know God cares. I do feel foolish knowing I should have been communicating earlier in the situation instead of letting things get to this breaking point. (imperfect progress). I find that worship music is a helpful tool, when I’m forgetting to reach up instead of trying to fix things myself. Worship music is also a great way for things to be said (through the songs) that you don’t know how to say.
- 4) Make a to-do-list. Last tip for reducing stress is making a list. It sounds maybe common or a waste of time, but it could be the tool you are missing. If your exhausted and feel like your getting nothing done, or can’t go to sleep with all this “to-do’s” spinning your head around at night. Make a brain dumping list. This could just look like a pad of paper and pen on your nightstand. Write down whatever “to-do” that you are thinking of and don’t worry about having to remember it. I keep an agenda for myself. I use it to keep track of the events that will be happening for the kids, and for to-do list to. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, with all the work I have to do and it seems like I don’t have enough time. If I take 5mins and write which job will fit in which day and be REALISTIC about it, my stress level comes down a bit. I have a plan. Things will get done, maybe not all at once, but they will get done. I don’t have to waste anymore energy trying to remember all the details and dates. I just need to remember where I put my agenda! Find a brain dumping system that works for you, and you’ll be able to put your mind a little more at rest.
By: Sharon Schuler