“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”
The promotions everywhere remind us to treat Mom special this week, this month, this day…take her to dinner, buy her a coffee, let her have free time, treat her to a spa day, a manicure, a hike, buy her stuff!
There really is validity to treating Moms right, and for Moms taking care of themselves. Not just in the month of May, but always. Research has been done on this topic. In Who Mothers Mommy? Factors That Contribute to Mothers’ Well-Being we learn that Of the various parenting dimensions they considered, three were consistently linked with distress: role overload, parenting guilt, and child negative behaviors. Each of these constructs was associated with higher levels of maternal depression, anxiety, and stress.
Dr. Claire Nicogossian, a licensed clinical psychologist, wife and mom to four daughters has created Mom’s Well- Being to provide moms with knowledge, skills and support for the most life-changing role a woman can have-being a mother. She shares with us that there are many ways you can cope with stress in parenting by taking care of your well-being. Listed below are Dr. Nicogossian’s nine skills and strategies to help manage stress.
Self-Care Skills and Strategies for Moms
Accept that Stress is Part of Life. Not all stress is negative. In fact, some level of stress can be motivating and organizing helping us to complete tasks and deadlines. Understanding this can help you normalize the experience and find ways to work on managing stress.
Identify How Stress Impacts You. Does stress show up for you in the form of physical symptoms? Maybe it shows itself emotionally through feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious and irritable. Or it could come across in how you interact with family and friends. The key to being a mindful parent is spending time identifying how stress shows up in your life.
Take Care of Yourself. Taking care of your physical health including getting enough sleep to feel rested, good nutrition and hydration, and exercise creates solid physical health which helps to reduce stress. When parents are taking care of their physical needs, it makes it easier to chose mindful responses to cope with stress.
Focus on Breathing. Being in a state of stress will alter breathing patterns. Anxious individuals have disrupted breathing characterized by over or under-breathing and not taking in full breaths. Be mindful of your breathing patterns and throughout the day practice intentional breathing. Simple and easy, yet often overlooked. Make sure that your breathing is regulated with full breaths can help reduce stress and improve well-being. (deep breath here).
Reach Out to Supportive Adults. Staying connected to supportive friends and family will help reduce stress and increase well-being not only in parenting but throughout the lifespan.
Finding your tribe of people who understand and relate to the demands of parenting not only helps with feeling connected but also…can help to reduce stress and cope with the demands of parenting. – Dr. Claire
Meditate. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety, and also increase mental focus, compassion, and creativity and boosts the immune system. Meditation can be practiced anywhere you are, and in doing so, you will reduce stress and improve well-being.
Limit Multitasking. it increases stress, decrease well-being and takes away from being in the moment. Be aware of how multitasking impacts your life. Do you eat meals while watching television on scrolling on your phone? When a family member is talking to you, are you on your smart phone or engaged in another activity? Look around…is your whole family in front of a screen?
Schedule Quality Time with Your Child. Create intentional time each day to connect with your child. Meaningful time spent with your child will reduce stress and help to create and maintain healthy bonds of connection and shared experiences.
Be Transparent with Family Members. Rather than letting your stress impact how you treat those around you, be transparent and share what you feel when stressed. Dr. Claire often encourages clients to uses phrases like this, “Today has been a long day, and I’m feeling (fill in the emotion you are feeling). So I may be a little quieter, and I want you to know it has nothing to do with you. You can help right now by (giving the child a request), and I would love to (share an activity such as: hear about your day or read a book) with you or play a game in a few minutes or later on.
According to the NCBI “Among women experiencing significant parenting difficulties, supportive connections can do much to offset ego-depletion and distress. As contemporary mothers strive so carefully to tend their children, therefore, they must deliberately cultivate and maintain close, authentic relationships with friends as well as family. These must be recognized as essential buffers against the redoubtable challenges of sustaining “good enough” mothering across two decades or more.
Results of the NCBI study provide a critical corollary to a common homily “A mother’s job is never done.” Stated simply, their findings indicate that, as mothers must tend, so too, must they feel tended themselves.”