Postpartum Support International Blog
by Andrea Bates
January 2, 2016
Stress is something we all have to live with. We need to manage it. Beat it. Find ways around it. It’s going to be there. But there are a few reliable steps we can take to reduce it.
If you’re like me, you think you thrive off of the clutter in your life. Guess what? You don’t. Try to organize, even if you’re tackling one area at a time. Start with your kitchen island. That’s probably where I need to begin. Or the entryway to your home. Find a place to put your keys every time you walk in the door. And a place for the mail so it doesn’t pile up. Organize to make things easier for you. Don’t fight it, it really works.
I know, I know. You’re a mom. You barely have time to shower and brush your teeth, and here I’m telling you to exercise? Find twenty minutes. That’s all I’m suggesting. Ten will work, if twenty is too much to commit to. Something about getting the endorphins going gives you a rush and reduces stress. There’s scientific evidence out there, but I’m just speaking from experience.
3. Keep a calendar
Use an app on your phone, a pen and paper, or old-fashioned planner, whatever it is that works for you. Keep your events jotted down somewhere that isn’t the back of an envelope or a post-it note. Do it. You’ll be so much more organized (now head back to #1 if you need a reminder on why that’s important!).
4. Plan meals
I am absolutely 100% guilty of not doing this. But I hope to start in 2016. Because everyone I talk to who does it finds it to be the best thing ever. Plan your meals. Be flexible, because, well, you’re parents—you know how it goes! But plan them for a few reasons; to help you shop more efficiently, to use up what you have in your freezer/pantry, and to help you budget better. Which brings me to number 5.
5. Take control of your budget
Parents know that once baby comes home the expenses pretty much triple. From diapers and wipes, to car seats and strollers, it’s never-ending—and we wouldn’t have it any other way. But sometimes it seems like the money coming in doesn’t mesh with the money going out. Budget. Create one and use it. It will help ease your mind the next time you want to meet a friend for coffee and realize that a really pretty cup of coffee tends to cost about $6 a cup.
6. Take some time for yourself
Impossible, right? Just about as easy as fitting in time to exercise. I know it. I really do. Especially if you have really young children. But try—let your friends and family watch your baby and go get your hair cut or your nails done. Go to the library or bookstore. Go take a bath instead of a shower. Do it. Your stress levels will drop considerably.
7. Make time for friends
I’m sure you’ve got a ton of questions at this point. Starting with—where am I supposed to get all of this time? Plan for it. It’s the one thing I wish someone had made me do when my daughter was an infant. I waited way too long before I set some time aside to go out with friends—and you know what? My daughter (and my husband!) survived when I did. Do it. Take time to enjoy life with other moms. And I’m not just talking about the chatter at the playground. Make time.
Laughter really is good medicine. Whether it’s a funny movie, book, shared story with a friend—allow yourself to laugh. You’ll forget about any stresses you have, if only for a brief moment. But that moment will be well worth it.
So—there you have it—eight ideas to reduce stress in 2016. What would you add to the list? Let me know, because I’m always looking for suggestions.
Andrea is a native New Yorker living in NC who has become quite accustomed to wearing flip-flops year-round. An LCSW, she works part-time, benefitting her social media addiction, and volunteers regularly for several non-profit organizations helping women in need of support. Andrea has been published on sites like Carolina Parent, Postpartum Progress, Scary Mommy and Midlife Boulevard. You can also find her at her own website, Good Girl Gone Redneck, writing about her life as a mom, her family, important causes, and incredible books you absolutely must read.
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