There are many ways to relieve stress. Many methods, habits, and tips that will help get you out of survival mode into thriving. But there is one that will help you be less stressed, regardless of whether your circumstances change or not.
With 2 of my 5 pregnancies, I absolutely lost my marbles.
Yes, I say 5 because I am, surprisingly, pregnant again. For anyone else who studied Liberal Arts out there like I did, 99% does not mean 100%.
Anyway, I lost my marbles and thought I would never recover. My first pregnancy was a piece of cake. My second one as well. By my third pregnancy I had two toddlers and was working from home for a finance organization. My working hours were 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm. This meant I could not take as much as a catnap when I had to work. Which was Monday to Friday.
Since we didn’t have family nearby and I’m not good at asking for help, I became more exhausted than I can even describe. I’d get headaches, the shakes, my entire face would start to swell, and I’d get panic attacks.
This pregnancy, none of that. Even though I have 4 kids ages 4 and under, I have not become hyper stressed. I have not experienced extreme hormone surges, nor have I become so exhausted I sob and sob and sob. The difference?
I have been sleeping more. A lot more. I average at least 9 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period.
I am not joking.
I am very serious.
And this with 4 kids 4 years and under.
Without a doubt, the number one thing you need to do during seasons of high stress and overwhelm is to get more rest.
Why Rest Changes Your Life
That is a huge statement, but it’s true. Getting enough rest will make a huge difference in many areas of your life.
You are better prepared to cope with life
If you are exhausted then your brain doesn’t work properly. There are so many bajillions of studies that show highly successful people have healthy amounts of rest. You are less focused, more distracted, and higher strung when your body does not get the amount of sleep it needs. Period.
You cannot control all of your circumstances and sometimes we find ourselves in bad situations that are not of our making. It is particularly important in these seasons, when there is little else we can control, that we take hold of our sleeping habits. Even if you have to go see someone to help you sleep better, it is a must.
Read –> How to be a calm mom
Your emotions are not in control of you
When you are exhausted, every single emotions sits right under the surface. You have a full and overflowing emotional basement. If one child throws a tantrum, you throw an even bigger one. One kid spills some milk and you lose your head and scream. Overnight, you become an angry mom.
When you are lacking sleep your adrenaline is pumping which causes your body to be on high alert. You become hyper-vigilant. More so than normal. Quite simply, you’re not able to be a level-headed reasonable person when you are beyond the poing of exhaustion. It’s not your fault, it’s just how God made us.
By getting more rest, you have margins and you’re able to make decisions without letting your emotions take charge.
You become more self-disciplined
When you prioritize rest, day in and day out, you build up your self-control and self-discipline. This will particularly come in handy if some of the overwhelm and stress problems are due to a lack of self-control on your part. By focusing on getting more rest you’ll learn to let other things go and do what you need to do.
And the best part, every night that you get more sleep and feel better… the choice to go to bed early the next night becomes easier.
It helps you prioritize the things that matter
When you start to realize that you absolutely must sleep more or you will completely lose the plot, you start paring down the unnecessary. Is the playroom still dirty? Close the door. Do you have two seasons of Gilmore Girls left to watch before they release the big finale? It’ll keep.
There are books to read, people to call, dishes to put away, lunches to pack, etc. But if you can manage to do some of the urgent stuff during the day and forget about the extra, you begin seeing just how much you were doing that doesn’t matter. How much busy work or mindless tasks that created stress but produced no benefit.
Okay fine. Sweeping is important… if you have a baby who eats off the floor.
But in all seriousness, things that can be done during the day will leave more space at night to relax and then go to bed early.
Read –> 21-day go to bed early challenge
I know may of you are thinking, “Yeah, Right, Whatever, I can’t sleep, I’m a mom.” But I want to tell you that you can. Even if it means you have to hire a maid or forget about cleaning for a short season. Or better yet, give these responsibilties to the kids.
How to get more sleep even if you think you can’t:
- Go to bed early. Choose a time goal and, when it gets there, drop whatever you’re doing and just get in the bed. Get one of these and you’ll find it easier to fall asleep.
- Don’t just get up because tiny ones wake at 5:30 am. You can teach kids to sleep later and babies or toddlers who are in their cribs can play quietly or sing to themselves for another 30 minutes if you don’t rush right in. Ask me how I know.
- Beg someone to watch the kids so you can nap. Even a power nap can help you get back on track.
- Hire help. If you can afford help for a few hours a week, get it. And then don’t be crazy like a chicken when they get there, just sleep.
- Take daily naps. Sleep when your babies or toddlers sleep. If they don’t sleep a lot, put them in their cribs to play and doze off right beside them. You probably won’t even fall asleep, but will just rest your eyes, but every little it helps.
- Take 48 hour mommy vacays. I talk about it all here. I know this is a luxury everyone doesn’t have, but if your husband is willing to watch the kids, go for it.
- Prioritize it. As with anything, if you prioritize it, it begins to happen.