Thanks for tuning back in to my Back to the Basics Week inspired by the two-week course called Makeover Your Mornings I’ve been doing. Monday I talked about the big rocks of parenting and yesterday I spoke on work and play. Today I’m hitting stress.
There’s positive stress and negative stress. Positive stress helps us get things done. Negative stress crushes us. It makes us feel overwhelmed, overworked, and angry.
The other morning I was walking two laps around our pond (one of Makeover Your Morning’s suggestions is exercise for more energy) and thinking about how life was so different 50 years ago. It might take hours to milk the cows and make butter, milk, and cream for the day. Every day. I’m sure they were dead dog tired at the end of the day, but I wonder if they were as stressed?
Common sense tells us we need a healthy outlook on life to create a positive environment for our kids. And while common sense is now a superpower, I know all you ladies are superwomen! Here’s how to realistically minimize stress for the modern mom with stressors.
Determine your life rocks.
As I talked about in Part One of this series, we gotta know our big rocks. Parenting rocks, personal rocks, and life rocks. When we know those and make those a priority, we’re naturally less bothered about things that are less important. You won’t have to say, “stop stressing” to yourself because you will feel more accomplished and on the path. Some stress will melt away.
Learn to let go.
This is a hard one. Oh, okay yes I’ll just let it go, thanks. Still, there is something to be said for the mental fortitude and self-discipline of forcing yourself to let things go. Easier said than done, but it’s a must if you want to keep mental peace.
The way to do this? Make sure you’re hitting your big rocks so that you’re only having to let go things that aren’t that important in the grand scheme anyway. Of course the laundry has to be done, but if you left one load too long in the wash and have to redo it, who cares. I assure you that a wet load of laundry is not going to be reason for me to be up at night. Not anymore. It’s necessary and good to stay current on housekeeping, but I’m not going to get a wrinkle over it.
Make a change today.
When trying to make changes, the worst thing you can do is to bite off more than you can chew. Because then you just end up spitting the whole thing out. That was gross, but you get the point. If you start by changing very small habits you can gain momentum and meet your goals. By expecting yourself to completely change habits or mental patterns you’ll only end up disappointed.
If your schedule stresses you then sit down with it and look at the problem areas. Too many weekly activities? Choose one thing today to cut back. Feel like the whole house is a mess? Call a friend or family member and trade favors. Stressed about money? Get help from someone skilled in that area to make a budget or a debt free plan.
Re-evaluate your ideals.
I’ll get more into this tomorrow, but when you are feeling an overload of stress it’s a good time to zoom out and take a good look at where the root of the stress is coming from. Is it because you think you should be able to do more? Says who? It probably isn’t that your children is unhappy, but that you simply feel pressure to do/be/know more.
It’s a soul crushing pattern of thinking. When I had postpartum anxiety and was seeing a counselor, she suggested I frequently ask myself, “What is the worst that could happen?” That was often enough to lower stress levels immediately.
Some things that cause stress can’t be eliminated.
I know there are times when the stress is caused from situations outside of our control and there’s nothing we can do to eliminate it. This might be a deployment, separation/divorce, or money situation. You must do the best you can to manage that unchanging stress, while completely eliminating other lesser stressors.
It’s the overall weight of our burdens that crush us, but by eliminating those that we are able, the load is still lighter. It won’t be non-existent, but it will be lighter.
Essentially… stress is a killer. It kills our joy, relationships, and fulfillment. Evaluate what is causing it and eliminate whatever is in your power. Then in the immortal words of Elsa… “let it go.”