Raising kids is no joke! With all the unbelievable rewards of motherhood, comes some intense struggles and dangerous stress. If you are a parent, you are no stranger to stress. But did you know stress can masquerade as unexplained headaches, stomach and digestive issues, and skin problems? Stress is a physiological reaction in the body that is necessary for survival. When it gets out of control (chronic stress), it causes serious health concerns. The good news is there are simple and effective ways to combat and reduce stress in your daily life.
“You can’t always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.” Wayne Dyer
Symptoms of Stress
- Easily agitated, frustrated and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed and depressed
- Difficulty relaxing
- Avoiding others
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, nausea
- Aches, pains, tense muscles
- Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Inability to focus
- Poor judgment
- Changes in appetite
- Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
- Increased alcohol, drugs, and cigarette use
- Nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing
Long-term stress leads to
- Depression and anxiety
- Cardiovascular disease
- Obesity and eating disorders
- Menstrual problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Skin and hair problems
- Digestive issues
Stress is inevitable. The goal is to find effective ways to relieve it.
Top 3 Stress Relievers
Do you turn to comfort food when you’re stressed? Who doesn’t? This is a double whammy because your digestive system slows down when you are under stress (the energy is diverted to the fight or flight response). Comfort foods are already harder to digest and top that off with a slowed digestive system. Recipe for disaster!
So what should you eat when you’re under stress?
Lots of vegetables for starters. They ramp up the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters.
Fermented foods promote an overall healthy gut. Did you know your gut is your second brain? If you want to be healthy and happy, you need to keep your gut healthy and happy.
Healthy fats found in avocados, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil will decrease anxiety and depression.
Blueberries increase the dopamine production in your brain.
You knew I was going to say that one, didn’t you? ?
But here’s the kicker- you have to choose a form of exercise that does NOT stress you out! If you are out of shape, start slow. Don’t overdo it and stress your body.
If going to the gym stresses you out. Find another way to get exercise. It can be as simple as going for a walk.
When your kids are at the playground, run around and play with them. Take some time to walk (or jog) around the playground while keeping a close eye on them.
If you need more structure, try some yoga or Pilates. You can find a local fitness class and make some new friends. If location is an issue for you, just follow along on YouTube in the comfort of your own home!
Feeling more adventurous? Try a team sport. You could even sign up for some dance classes.
One of the most effective ways to relieve stress is to get outside. Even with the colder months upon us, it is important to spend time outside in the fresh air.
When the body feels good, so does the mind!
Yep, you read that right. Breathing is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. If you are breathing 24/7 and still feel stressed, hang with me.
Automatic breathing is shallow and does not use full lung capacity. Shallow breathing increases the stress response.
When you intentionally breathe and take in long, deep breaths, you reset your brain and trigger relaxation. Try it right now. Take several long, deep breaths. Do you feel the change? If you want to supercharge this effect, inhale some relaxing essential oils with your deep breathing.
More Ways to Relieve Stress
- Watch something funny. If you don’t have time for a movie or TV show, check out some short videos on YouTube.
- Color in an adult coloring book. How excited will your little one be to have mommy coloring along with her?
- Hug someone. Grab your little ones whenever you feel stress or anxiety coming on and give them a giant squeeze. This is especially helpful when they are triggering your stress!
- Play a game. If you need some time alone and don’t want to play with your kids, try solitaire or any of countless electronic games. I’m a fan of Disney Tsum-Tsums.
- Call a friend. Facebook is great for keeping in touch, but it is busy and loud and can add to your stress. Actually talking to an old friend can instantly lift your spirits.
- Declutter. Clutter zaps energy and adds to stress. Start small so you don’t get overwhelmed. Remember the goal here is to REDUCE stress, not add to it.
- Send someone a card. Make your day by making someone else’s day. Who wouldn’t love receiving an actual real card from you in the mailbox?
Now you have some ideas to get started! The first step is identifying the problem. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, you are under stress. Let’s face it, if you have kids, you are under chronic stress.