Although it shouldn’t come as any surprise to us working moms, recent research has found full-time working moms have 40% higher stress levels than women without kids.
“Work-family conflict is associated with increased psychological strain, with higher levels of stress and lower levels of wellbeing,” the researchers said. “Parents of young children are at particular risk of work-family conflict. Working conditions that are not flexible to these family demands, such as long working hours, could adversely impact on a person’s stress reactions.”
Of course, not all women have the luxury of flexible working hours. And, even if you do, that doesn’t always help alleviate the stress that comes with being a working mother.
Because stress can have serious effects on our mental and physical well-being, it’s vital that we look for ways to de-stress. But, where can you start? Well, here are 9 simple ways that you can start fighting back against stress today.
1. Just breathe.
As Frank Lipman, M.D. writes, Breathing is, fortunately, usually second nature. However, when we get flustered, our breath becomes short and shallow — and stress has nowhere to go but up.”
“In that flustered state, it’s easy to forget to be in the moment and, as they say, “just breathe.’”
When you feel this way the best course of action is to “pause for a moment and shift focus to your breath.”
Breathing mindfully is a proven way to “relieve tension, restore energy, and reduce stress. It’s one of the fastest ways to combat the stresses of too-busy days.”
The best part? You can do this whenever and wherever you are. Even just taking a few deep breaths is effective enough to decrease tension and relieve stress thanks to that extra increase of oxygen.
Whenever we’re physically active the body releases endorphins. These are mind-boosting chemicals that help reduce stress. Additionally, exercising can clear our heads, boost our energy-levels, and keep us in peak physical condition.
Whether if it’s going to a 10-minute walk or sweating out in the gym for an hour, any type of physical activity will combat stress while ensuring that you’re mentally and physically in-shape.
3. Stay positive.
Laughter reduces stress hormones, increases endorphins, and lowers inflammation in the arteries. It also boosts “good” HDL cholesterol.
Simply watching a short viral video is enough to the trick.
Finding stillness everyday, such as through yoga, prayer, or allowing your mind to wander, releases stress and reverses the natural effects of our body’s flight-or-fight response.
This is an excellent beginners guide on meditation. Or, you could try downloading an app like Calm that can guide you in meditation and mindfulness.
The next time you feel stressed or anxious, take a minute and picture yourself in a peaceful situation, like relaxing on the beach, or accomplishing a future goal. It’s a fast and easy way to get centered.
Take 10 or 15-minutes of your day and disconnect from technology. Whether if it’s turning off your phone or reading a book instead of watching TV this helps you temporarily escape the real world and recenter. If anything, this should at least be done any hour before bedtime.
7. Add cushions to your calendar.
Instead filling every minute of your calendar create buffers throughout the day. For example, if it takes you 20-minutes to commute leave yourself 30-minutes. That extra 10-minutes may not sound like much. But, it can help reduce potential stressors like getting stuck in traffic. This way you’re not rushing from Point A to Point B.
8. Practice gratitude.
Years of research from Robert A. Emmons, Ph. D., a Professor of Psychology at UC Davis and one of the world’s leading scientific experts on gratitude, has found that those who regularly record the things that they’re grateful for have higher levels of positive emotions, sleep better, and take more care of their health.
9. Don’t overlook the small things.
Finally, turn to the small things in life that make you happy and feel more relaxed. This could be listening to your favorite music, taking a bath, talking to your BFF, kissing your partner, or spending time on your favorite hobby.
They may not seem like a big deal. But, these small things can release endorphins and give us a much-needed break from daily stressors, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.