Stress-Busters

We all have stress; that’s no surprise to anyone. But I think it’s fair to say we’ve been surprised by how some people respond to stress. Have you ever been faced with a stressful situation and had one of these things happen to you:

1. you responded with a blank stare, deciding it was best to just remain quiet.

2. you responded, but the words you used were that of your mother?!?

3. you responded, and it was the most eloquent and brilliant response possible.

I’ve had some amazing learning opportunities, including a very basic level of understanding of the brain and stress. To my knowledge, we can respond to a (stressful) situation in one of three ways: survival, emotional, and thoughtful.  The survival instinct is demonstrated in one of three ways: fight, flight, or freeze. Our emotional reactions are taken from our previous life experiences and that’s when our mothers come out of our mouths. The thoughtful reactions are really more of a response than a reaction.

As moms, we tend to be the primary caregiver in our family; and as is true in many care-giving situations, it’s far too easy to not let self-care take a priority. Self-care for me is exercising, taking a shower, turning off the radio when I’m alone (or all the kids are sleeping) in the car. It also includes meal planning and goal setting. I know taking time to take care of yourself is hard and can seem impossible. I know what it feels like to just get through the day. I know that guilt will rear its ugly head when you’ve finally convinced yourself you’re worth it. You are worth it. You are worth it. Do you hear me, you ARE worth it! If this seems unfamiliar and filled with guilt, start with taking two minutes during the day to focus on something: perhaps it’s a list of places to visit, or jotting down your favorite quote of the day. Maybe it’s a two minute uninterrupted time with a cup of tea, reading a favorite blog. Kansas City Moms Blog is hosting a Moms Night Out on October 6; I think that will be an AMAZING night and a perfect self-care opportunity. It will be a time to have some real people connections and conversations. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or indulgent; it’s meant to be rejuvenating so that we can ultimately be a better mom.

I have tried to remember a few concepts that make being a mom a little less overwhelming. None of these ideas are original, but I find them helpful.Head to Head

1. Don’t let life get in the way of living life. We all have obligations, bills to pay, appointments to schedule. But it is also the only life we get to live, so why not make it as enjoyable as possible?

2. Practice breathing. I know it sounds silly, breathing happens automatically – we don’t really have to practice, right? When I take the time to focus on my breathing and let all other thoughts dissipate, I can find a neutral disposition; being neutral (different than calm) allows me to respond to a situation instead of reacting.

3. Count your blessings, joys, “the good.” There is a program called Conscious Discipline and one of the principles is, “What you focus on, you get more of.”

4. When all else fails: smile, nod, and remember that this, too, shall pass.

I think one of the most difficult aspects of stress-busting is the ability to recognize when we are under stress. Some of my personal indicators are negative self-talk, not being able to go to sleep at night, and feeling anxious. How do you know when you are stressed? What are your favorite stress-busters?

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I grew up in Liberty, just a few blocks off from the square. After a brief stint at Iowa State University, hubby and I returned to the Northland in KC to welcome our twin girls into the world. Soon after we were parents to 2, we were parents to 3. And after a bit of a hiatus, we returned to infant hood with the birth of our 4th child. As our twin daughters have special needs, I changed my course of study and earned an A.S. in Sign Language Interpreting. We used American Sign Language as our primary communication for the first 2 years of their lives. Over the last 9 years since becoming a mom, I've learned (and am still learning) about childhood advocacy, living on budget, baby wearing, cloth diapering, figuring out how to plan/shop/execute yummy/kid-friendly/healthy meals. While we've been life long KC residents, we are continuously in awe of what this city has to offer.