Women often act as stress support systems for everyone they know – partner, friends, family, kids, aging parents, boss and this means that the stress they’re under can be very intense. Yet women often find it very difficult to relax and de-stress. They may even think it selfish! However, stress can have serious detrimental effects – on your relationships and on your mental health.
You need to find ways to beat your stress. Here are my five top tips, based on my own experiences of being a WAHM with twins!
1. Take time for yourself.
This is not selfish – it is essential. Relaxing and unwinding is essential to help you deal with the day’s stresses. Try for every day, but a minimum of twice a week if you can to take time to do something for YOU. This should be something that makes you feel happy, relaxed and centre (ie NOT a task you’ve been meaning to get to). Maybe you could fit 15 mins of yoga in before your morning shower? Or schedule a lunch out with a supportive friend (BUT take care that you don’t end up just listening to her problems!)
Personally, I try to listen to my MP£ player for 15-20 mins before going to bed. And I make sure that once a week I take a bath with NO interruptions! A great stress buster!
2. Get Help.
No not from a mental heath professional unless you are really stressed out! I meant from your family. Get the kids to take the rubbish out and ask your husband or partner to help too. After all, if you never get a break, you’ll only end up “dumping” your stress into your relationship so it’s in everyone’s interest to help!
3. Kill Perfectionism.
I’ve talked about this elsewhere on this blog. Perfectionism is very stressful. It often leads to procrastination, which means you can just get completely overwhelmed as things build on top of you!. Just accept that “good enough” is good enough and get on with what you need to do. (Believe me, I know how hard this is!)
4. Take care of your body.
Get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables; start an exercise routine, and get enough sleep. If you do this you WILL feel yourself getting less stressed.
5. Learn to say no.
Saying no can be very difficult especially for women, who are often conditioned by society to be the ones giving the help and support. So you need to practise doing it. It doesn’t mean you’re a horrible person. And it doesn’t mean your friend will hate you forever (if she does, she was probably not the sort of friend you needed anyway). Just be firm and polite. Try “Sorry, I’ve got other plans, but let’s arrange something for next week (or whenever)”. You will feel empowered and less stressed.
Remember that you have to care for yourself first. If you are ill and over-stressed, how will you be the support system for your family? And if you don’t manage your own stress, who will do it for you?