Many of us overlook the impact stress has on our body. This is because living in a stressed state of rushing from one thing to the next, having to do lists as long as our arm, deadlines hanging over our heads, weekends jam-packed with child commitments & ignoring relationship issues has became the norm to many. Well, I want to challenge this way of life. I don’t want you to just survive I want you to thrive.

 

I find that mothers are a demographic who experience a great deal of stress but commonly go under the radar. They place a lot of undue pressure on themselves be the perfect mother, partner, successful career woman, socialite, to look good all the time, have a clean house, hold the perfect birthday party & be emotionally available 24/7 for everyone. Does this sound familiar? Many of you may be reading this thinking “Isn’t that just life?!”. Well, we all have responsibilities yes, but the way in which we fulfill these responsibilities is up to the individual. You have a choice of how you prioritise your day, what you say yes & no to, and whether you care about what others think of you. You have a choice to either strive towards perfectionism or embrace the fact that perfectionism does not exist (which it doesn’t!).

 

Every mother that walks through my clinic door has some kind of stress. Whether it is conscious or subconscious stress, there is always something deeper than the eye can see. It is this conscious & subconscious stress that creates havoc in our body. You see stress is energy that becomes stored in our body. This negative energy needs to be expelled or released regularly but we rarely give ourselves the opportunity to do so. As a result, the stress builds up & up until it manifests as physical or mental dysfunction.

 

Stress can present in many ways. The following are physical & mental symptoms I commonly see in women:

  • Pain especially neck, back & pelvic pain
  • Muscle tension
  • Joint stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Pelvic floor overactivity
  • Painful intercourse
  • Bladder overactivity- urgency/leakage
  • Bowel urgency
  • Poor gut health- IBS, leaky gut, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, pain
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Weak immune system
  • Endometriosis
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mind fog
  • Fatigue
  • Low motivation

 

When stress starts to builds up in our body, the body gives us little signs it’s not coping. A shout out for help. It might be a racing heart, feelings of overwhelm, your mind not switching off, insomnia, twinges in your lower back, dull headaches, tight shoulders, being in a bad mood, or reduced tolerance. When you ignore these gentle nudges, the signs will become more significant, more painful & more disabling. And trust me, you don’t want to wait for this to happen. So to avoid stress escalating, follow the below strategies.

 

Here are my strategies to help you navigate stress:

 

1. Listen to your body.

 

Observe how it is feeling. Observe any pain, tension or negative patterns that start to appear. Notice your breathing pattern, your heart rate, your thoughts. To do so, you need to get to know your body. Spend time connecting with it, noticing how it responds to situations – workloads, heated discussions, spending time with different people, varying forms of exercise etc. Be mindful of symptoms that do not feel ‘normal’ for your body. Be mindful of stress.

 

2. Take action.

 

Do something about the gentle nudges before they turn into forceful pushes. Taking action might involve you ‘being’ more rather than doing. Taking 10 minutes before the house wakes to do a meditation or diaphragmatic breathing exercise or yoga stretches or drink a cup of coffee in peace. 

Taking action might also mean asking for help. Recognizing when your level of stress & overwhelm is rising & asking loved ones for help or seeking paid help like a cleaner once a week. It might mean you booking in to see a practitioner to help you with your symptoms.

3. Pivot.

 

When something isn’t working in your life, don’t just keep going down the same path because it’s the path most travelled, because it’s familiar. If something doesn’t feel right or serve you anymore or constantly feels stressful then PIVOT. Do it differently, try something new. Release attachment from the old way of doing things & instead take a different approach or perspective.

 

4. Prioritise downtime in your life.

 

The commonality amongst mothers who have some kind of pain or dysfunction is that they never have downtime. When I mention it to my clients they say “Are you kidding! I don’t have time for that!”. Each time I hear this I challenge them. And I challenge you right now, as I know you’re thinking the same thing! We all have the same amount of time in our day and in our week. It’s about how we prioritise our time. It’s about putting yourself at the top of your to do list. This is a difficult concept for many mums as their children, partners, the housework & their work come first. But what good are you to any of these people or responsibilities if you are giving from an empty tank? Start prioritising yourself & notice the effect it has on your stress levels.

 

5. Work out what relaxes you.

 

For many mums, relaxation is such a foreign concept that they don’t know what relaxes them anymore. If you are in this boat, make this your homework. Experiment with different forms of relaxation & see what works for you. And watching TV doesn’t count! Of course if you find it relaxing go for it, but I also want you to find something else that helps you switch off that doesn’t involve devices. Do anything that helps you release stress– like having an Epson salt bath, restorative yoga, going for a walk in nature, lying in the sun for 10 minutes, reading a chapter of your book, meditating or journaling.

6. Schedule it & commit.

 

Now that you’ve worked out how to best relax, you need to schedule this into your day or week. Write down your downtime in your diary, calendar or on the top of your to do list so it gets done! For the good of your physical & mental health, and your relationships, commit to taking care of numero uno ;).

 

 

Promise me one thing – Don’t let living in a state of stress be your norm. Don’t let pain, dysfunction or unhappy relationships just be part of life. You have the control of how you spend your day so look at what can shift to make space for downtime. Say no to the things that don’t serve you & prioritise your own wellbeing. It’s like a muscle, the more you flex it, the stronger it gets and the more you look after yourself, the more you ooze health & vitality!

 

What do you do to relax? – Share with me below. Because we can never have enough stress management strategies in our toolbox!

 

 

Anna x