Let’s face it being a mom is tough work. Not only do you have to physically accomplish so much (like somehow being in two places at the same time, while making lunches for tomorrow), but it is also mentally draining. In addition to managing one’s professional obligations, to nurturing one’s romantic interests, and to maintaining friendships, we moms also need to do so much more.
In the midst of frantic worry, I sometimes stop to listen to the thoughts going on in my head. Like, “When are the library books due? Where are the library books? When will my kiddo make a new friend? How much money is this sport going to be? Why is my child struggling this way or that?… And the list goes on and on and on.
Luckily, I’ve learned that constant worry accomplishes nothing. It creates extra tension in the home, it increases the cortisol coursing through my body, and it wastes time. As a public speaking instructor, I know how important it is to be able to stop worry in its tracks, so a presenter is able to move passed anxiety and move toward delivering an effective speech.
Somewhere along the way, I adopted the stress-stopping techniques that I give to my students to my own everyday life, and I gotta tell you, I feel so much more productive. What’s more, it is a pretty powerful trait to be able to stop worrying whenever I want to. Consider this quote…
“A man is what he thinks about all day long.”Ralph Waldo Emerson
Who do you want to be all day long? Do you want to be the mom who cannot stop worrying or complaining that things aren’t working out correctly? Or do you want to be the mom who charges forward no matter the challenges that lay in front of her and her family?
Umm, I’ll take number two please! I’d venture to say that most of us would much rather be the woman who gets things done, right? So, why do we continue to worry? The truth is that there are a ton of valid things in the world to worry about, and that worry can get overwhelming quickly.
I’m here to tell you, mamma, you are right. Those worries that you have are real. You should give yourself some time each day to let your brain process your thoughts and emotions, because it is important.
However, it is also important to quiet your brain. Give yourself some time to enjoy this moment, right here, right now. Clear your brain of worry and just understand you are exactly where you should be. Worrying about where you aren’t or where your family isn’t won’t change anything about your current place in life. So why waste endless amounts of time on worry when you could be putting your brain to more positive ventures?
Now that you are onboard and know that you need to stop worrying, here’s how you can do it RIGHT NOW!
1. Turn Your Phone to Silent & PUT IT DOWN!
First of all, I bet you just giggled when you read this. Perhaps you thought something like, “Turn my phone to silent? Heck no, this chick must be crazy!” (Jury’s still out on that. lol) I never said that these techniques would be easy; I just said that they are effective. The truth is that you have to intentionally seek to quiet your brain.
If you were to consciously look around your life, where does most of your stress come from? For me, the answer was quite clear, it came from my phone. How quickly could I respond to a message, who needs something from me, who could I send a message to get something off of my plate, and so forth. My phone was making noises every couple of minutes.
One day, I just needed a break. I needed for people to not be able to get a hold of me. However, of course, I wanted to be available in case an emergency came up with my children. I couldn’t turn my phone off, but I could do the next best thing. I turned that sucker to silent! This was one of the most powerful things that I have done recently to manage my mental health. I don’t have to be at anyone’s beckon call, and no one needs an immediate answer.
As a Work From Home Mom (WFHM), I’m on call 24/7. I frequently have clients who text me last minute and ask if I can put up a quick post on their social channels. Within the last few months I’ve been contacted on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, Friday and Saturday nights at dinnertime, and on Sundays. I’m not sure about you, but those are usually pretty family-packed days and times for me. At first, when I could hear the message, I would withdraw myself from the festivities (and sometimes a large dinner that I was in charge of preparing) to go do business.
Now, I allow those messages to wait. I don’t look at my phone and interrupt those important family gatherings. I’ll put it this way, I’m never going to regret spending a few more minutes with my family, however, I might regret the converse…
Some of you might not WFH, but this technique could still apply to you. How much time are you spending on your phone searching for things and engaging in conversations on Social Media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and SnapChat? Are you overwhelmed by all of the notifications popping up all the time? I can’t stand those little red/orange circles with the numbers in them! I think, “Ah, I HAVE to respond or someone will think I’m a bad person.” But you know what? How much value are we truly getting from those interactions? Seriously…
It might be fun to catch up on the local news and gossip. Whose baby is adorable? What type of smoothie should you be drinking? What party did you not get invited to? Ugh, all time wasters!
Here, I’ll save you some time. If you live close enough, you’ll see that baby in person. Spoiler: she’s kinda cute, but not as cute as your baby. No smoothie on Earth is going to save your life (lol, only YOU have the power to do that…). And yup, you didn’t get invited to the party. Who gives a flip? Do you really want to go hang out with a bunch of people who don’t want to hang out with you. Umm, I certainly don’t.
With that said, imagine what you could do with the newfound time acquired from looking away from your phone for a bit? If you wanted to, you could pick up and visit that friend and see her cute-ish baby in person. You could experiment with smoothies and find the flavor that YOU actually enjoy. You could even find a friend who has similar interests to you and work on a plan to hang out in the real world.
Sounds pretty great, huh? It’s not that hard, and you don’t have to give it all up. Just intentionally turn away from staring at your device and responding to things as they happen. As someone who has survived turning the sound off on her phone, I gotta tell you that it feels pretty powerful having all that time back!
Maybe giving up the sound on your phone is a bit too much of a ask at this point. Maybe you tried it and are amazed by the new energy that surrounds you, so you’re looking for even more ways to clear your head. Either way, you might benefit from this next technique.
2. Shift Gears & Have a Laugh
Many years ago, we lost my brother. As those of you who have experienced this kind of loss know, the events leading up to his death changed my life. After a short, but violent sickness, my brother ended up on life support in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital where he was.
As some background information, I have an irrational fear of hospitals. I know people go in and come out fine all of time, but I get quite anxious in them. I hate the sight of blood and all the gadgets and whatnot stir something up inside of me.
So, when my brother was hospitalized, I naturally approached the hospital with all sorts of fears and anxieties even before I saw him. After a six hour drive, I arrived at the hospital in a tizzy.
Consequently, every time I tried to go into the room, I fainted. He was attached to so many machines, and all I wanted to do was hold his hand, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t get passed the machines, the hospital, all of it. It was so hard.
I called my husband (then boyfriend) to update him on the goings on. I shared with him my anxieties, and I told him I couldn’t stop fainting. I really couldn’t. And then he said, “Just stop.” I laugh/cried to him, “Just stop?!? That’s what you’ve got for me?!?” He said, “Yeah, just stop fainting, Gretchen. You don’t have a choice. You need to get in there to see him. Just stop fainting, you can worry all you want once this is over. Get in that room and go see your brother.”
I got off the phone feeling like I hadn’t been heard. Didn’t he realize how hard that was? It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to mentally manage. I took a walk. I took some deep breaths. I thought long and hard about his advice, and I decided that he was right. I needed to just do it. I had to walk into his room without fainting, so my brother would know I was there for him and that I loved him. And I did. I made the decision; I went in there; and I supported him, while I could.
Tragically, within a couple of days, he was gone. However, that moment lives on within me. I was challenged to the depths of my soul, and I experienced firsthand that I have control over what my brain is and isn’t capable of.
And so do you.
Now, I know that our daily worries don’t exactly carry the same weight as when someone is on their deathbed. However, there are some mom worries that can escalate to perceived crisis. In our home, because of the nature of our work, money tends to be a huge stressor for us. We get stuck thinking about, “How will we pay these bills, the health insurance, the mortgage, the car payments, the groceries, the bills, bills, bills?!?”
In these moments, knowing that you can intentionally shift your thinking is crucial to having strong mental health. Now, since I know that I can do this, I will identify when I’m engaging in worry, and I will just choose to shift gears. I like to turn my attention toward solutions, instead of dwelling on problems. In these moments, I will often actively search for new work or double-down on the projects that will bring more money into our home.
For some of you though, you may not yet realize that you have this power, so what are you supposed to do? Well, easy peasy! It’s time to call up your girlfriends!
What did she just say, call up your girlfriends?!? Yes, I did. And I want you to make a plan to go out with them.
What?!? You want me to spend money I don’t have and go out with my friends?!? Yes. That’s exactly what I want you do to. (((Within reason, of course. No one’s saying to plan a Vegas trip here…)))
Go grab a coffee or a couple of drinks, mamma. Hanging out with your friends is a sure-fire way to stop thinking so much about all the crap that’s bothering you and to turn your attention toward something more positive. If you can stack some laughs on top of it all, even better! Laughing naturally brighten your mood, and it’s dang hard to worry while you’re laughing.
As mothers it is very easy, especially when your children are young, to get lost in the mayhem of your family. Take a breath, it’s OK to be more than a wife, a mother, a colleague, a bill payer, you can be just YOU too. It’s OK. Trust me on this.
ASIDE: If you are in a place where you are unsure about who your “friends” are, because you are stuck between your old friends who don’t have kids yet and don’t really know any moms around you, it’s time to build some new relationships. No worries, though, trust me, there are plenty of other new moms out there who are just as eager to make new friends as you are. (Check out your local library for baby/toddler times, YMCAs usually have Mommy and Me classes, hangout at your local park and wait for someone to show up, or host something yourself. Once you look, you’ll find there are plenty of opportunities to connect with other moms.
So once you have a group of friends who you want to hang out with, make plans to connect with those people without your kids. You’ll find that taking some time to shift gears and have a laugh with some friends is such a powerful way to stop worry in its tracks.
If you are still working on developing a fun group of friends who you can call upon, when you need to shift gears, you can do the next technique RIGHT NOW!
3. Get Your Heart Rate Up
You already know that exercise can help relieve stress, don’t you? Here’s some information from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) to reinforce what you already know.
“When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. So it stands to reason that if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.”~ Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)
There it is, mamma, get moving. Now, of course, I’m not a doctor or a medical professional, so I’m not going to prescribe how you should get moving, everyone is different. Walking may work well for you, or perhaps YOU are a runner and have a need for speed. Swimming, dancing, aerobics, spinning, hiking, yoga, cross fit, are just a few of the endless possibilities you can do to get moving.
Just plan to get going every day. (It’s OK to skip a day here and there.) A few years ago, my husband got me this watch. It’s really simple to use and very affordable. Obviously, an Apple Watch or other smart watch will also, track your activity, but I wasn’t looking for another gadget to play with. I find that this watch is perfect for me, because it keeps me moving. I have a goal of 15,000 steps a day, and I check the watch periodically for the my day’s count. I don’t need to message anyone from it or use it to answer my phone. It’s simple and that’s what I love about it.
Speaking of simple, have you tried using essential oils yet? My next technique is to utilize your sense of smell to “trick” your brain into relaxing.
4. Diffuse Some Oils
Do you have any scents that when you smell them, you are instantly reminded of something? For me, anytime I smell pipe tobacco, I remember my grandfather. He died when I was quite young, but to this day, that scent will transport me right back to his lap.
That’s pretty powerful, right? I think so too, and that’s why I started using oils. Now, don’t get me wrong there are so many great benefits of using oils beyond what I am sharing here today. However, I wouldn’t dare touch on them, but in that department I am no expert.
What I will share with you today, is to find some oils that you naturally relate to peace and calm and diffuse them when you notice your mind is starting to worry. Many people like to purchase blends from doTERRA ™ and Young Living ™ consultants. If this brings you peace, go for it. I’ll tell you right now, that you have consultants near you who would be happy to help you find the right blends that will work for you. Go to your Facebook page and type in your status:
ISO of someone who can help me find the right oils to diffuse for stress relief.
I am confident that your network of friends will connect you to a consultant ASAP! If you already know scents you like, you can find tons of essential oils on Amazon. (You might want to do your research here and read the reviews, because not all oils are created equally; however, Amazon does have some nice oils that I like to use.) For me Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon are my go-to oils, when I’m trying to shift gears and clear out my mind. Again, everyone is different, so please find something that will work for you!
Adding diffusing into your routine will give you the opportunity to consciously say to yourself, that you are giving your mind permission to relax. If you want to actively give your brain some quiet time each day, it might be time to add meditation to your daily routine.
Are you wondering if I really tell my public speaking students to try meditation? Well, yes, I do. I want them to know they can train their brains to focus on the aspects of the presentation that matter to their success, rather than get wound up in the anxieties that come with presenting in front of a large crowd.
In terms of your own worries that vary from those of someone just before they walk out on stage, rest assured that you can practice meditation too! Meditation is a healing process that allows you to clear out the clutter in your brain and to bring attention to those things that you need to focus on in order for you to feel fulfilled. It is a personal journey and only you will know if it will work for you. However, I invite you to try it.
There are so many free resources out there in terms of meditation, and the practice varies on your level and on what you feel comfortable doing. For those just starting out, I recommend Jason Stephenson -> https://www.youtube.com/user/ILoveJuicyShow (He offers tons of FREE meditations on YouTube. Just click through, and you can select one that interest you.)
If you are interested in learning more about meditative techniques, I also recommend The Daily Meditation Podcast by Mary Meckley. https://www.sipandom.com/ (While she does have items and subscriptions that you may purchased, the daily podcast is always FREE.) I like these free meditations, because they are short, and I never feel confined to sitting in a dark space alone while I meditate. I often listen to these meditations while going for a walk or while doing dishes. This works for me!
Hopefully, you have found something today that will work for your too. The only thing left to do is to try something on this list. You are just one step away from relieving your worrying brain. Which technique will you try?
Let Me Know What Works for YOU
So, go on and get out there and give these techniques a try. When you intentionally start to direct your thoughts, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.
What worked for you? What didn’t? Do you have any other techniques that you can share with me? I’d love to hear them. Let me know what they are in the comments below.
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