Most people deal with some level of workplace stress, especially modern moms. When life seems to move at such a fast pace and there are endless tasks to juggle, the long hours often expected of employees only add to the stress. Learning how to manage stress is critical for a happy and healthy lifestyle, and it can be even more so for working moms looking to reduce stress overall.
Barring those nights when the kids just won’t stay in bed or the baby is teething, you won’t feel rejuvenated in the morning and ready to take on the day if you’ve had a bad night’s sleep. Sleep is critical for your body’s recovery, yet so many moms simply don’t get enough of it.
While there isn’t much to do about a fussy baby, if you’re struggling to nod off because you still have work on your mind, try focusing on removing distractions from your sleeping space, practicing breathing exercises, and even journaling to get those thoughts of work out of your mind before you drift off.
Find the Humor
Of course humor is not appropriate for all stress-related scenarios, but it can provide some light relief in many cases. Find a way to lighten the mood. After a long and stressful day at work, host an impromptu dance party in the kitchen with your kids or snuggle in for a comedy with your partner.
We like to play a silly impressions game at dinner on those rough nights. We take turns acting out a funny line from a movie or pretending to be a character or animal, and then everyone else has to try and guess. We don’t keep score or name a winner. It’s simply a fun game to lighten the mood and get everyone laughing.
Your system will only become more stressed if you eat poorly. Although it’s so easy for busy working moms to grab a sugary pick-me-up, a low-sugar diet is highly advisable.
Feel-good foods, such as baked goods and sugary snacks, lead to an improved mood for a short time. Inevitably, though, you’re left with the big energy crash, a killer for working moms trying to reduce stress. Try to limit trans fats, alcohol, caffeine, and food with a high amount of chemical hormones or preservatives.
According to Tapestry, there are meal plans available for all circumstances, so find an everyday diet that helps you meet your personal health goals.
Set Realistic Goals
If you set unrealistic goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure. This can lead to feeling disheartened and demotivated. When reducing stress at work, confidence is key, and setting realistic goals helps you maintain your confidence (among other things) because you are always or often able to meet your objectives. Try setting SMART goals.
S — Specific
M — Measurable
A — Attainable
R — Realistic
T — Time-bound
Schedule your Day
Scheduling your day can help working moms reduce stress because it gives you a clear focus. Rather than simply trying to push, push, push for the full 8-10 hours of your work day (and then come home to a stressful weeknight with your family), use strategies like scheduling and time blocking. A daily planner you carry with you or a scheduling app on your phone or computer at work can also help with setting and maintaining a stress reducing schedule.
Manage Tasks Effectively
There are numerous steps you can take to achieve better task management to reduce job stress. These include making compromises, delegating responsibility, breaking projects into smaller steps, and prioritizing tasks.
Don’t forget the value in asking for help and managing your energy levels, too. Sometimes, energy management can be even more effective than time management by allowing you to gauge your tasks by your output rather than a clock.
One of the main sources of stress is constant interruption throughout the day. While it can be unavoidable in the workplace, most people feel bombarded with instant messages, emails, and phone calls. Instead of dealing with every interruption as and when it comes, set a designated time for checking emails and messages.
Using a strategy like time blocking, establish a routine time to check emails mid-morning. Schedule office hours where coworkers are free to drop in for spur of the moment questions or discussions. You can even try creating a co-work hour where you and your peers at work collaborate for a designated amount of time in a communal space.
Leave Earlier in the Morning
Getting up before the kids has become essential to my becoming a morning person and reducing my stress as a working mom. Take it a step further, and try to leave 10 to 15 minutes earlier every morning. You may be shocked by how much of a difference this small change makes. I now arrive at work feeling more relaxed, and I’m able to ease into my day as opposed to running around frantically trying to get to work, settle in, and get started.
Take a Deep Breath
The power of a deep breathing is often underrated. I talk a lot about self-care and stress management, and breathing exercises are often a big part of that. Just a few moments can restore balance if you’ve come out from a tense meeting or are feeling overwhelmed. Regain focus and find your calm, momma.
Avoid Smoking When Feeling Stress
A lot of people smoke a cigarette to calm them down, and after speaking with a therapist at length about this, some of the benefit to that is attributed to the act of deep, slow breathing. However, nicotine is a powerful and harmful stimulant, and it can increase anxiety levels as opposed to reducing them. Instead of grabbing a smoke break after that stressful meeting, try finding a quiet place and just breathing.
Tips for working moms who are struggling to give up smoking:
- Talk to your doctor – A lot of people deem it unnecessary to talk to their doctor when they’re quitting smoking. However, studies show that speaking to a doctor actually increases your chances of successfully saying goodbye to cigarettes once and for all. It is, after all, a health-related matter, and that is what your doctor is there to help you with.
- Find a quitting partner – There is definitely strength in numbers when it comes to quitting smoking. Try and find a friend who wants to kick the habit, and embark on your journey to quit smoking together. You can provide support for one another when needed and encouragement on the hard days. If you don’t know anyone looking to quit now, look for an online support group.
- Change your diet – Some studies have shown that certain foods make cigarettes taste better while other foods make it taste worst. So, what do you need to give up? Coffee (sorry, momma), alcohol, and red meat can all enhance the flavor of cigarettes. However, fruit, vegetables, milk, and juice are said to make cigarettes taste worse and seem less appealing overall.
Act Rather Than React
Stress often occurs when you are put in situations that are not in your control. Working moms are often wearing a multitude of hats all day, managing work while simultaneously planning for next week’s meals or which kid needs their next round of vaccinations. The best approach to deal with stress is to sit down and determine what aspects of your day you can control. Focus your energy on those and let go of the rest.
Regular exercise is a powerful stress reliever. On multiple visits to my own therapist, this has been a strategy my doctor has brought up. Unfortunately, it can often be difficult for working moms to reduce stress with exercise when they already feel tapped out on time and energy.
Instead of attempting a 30 minute gym session, try taking a stroll outside whenever you feel stressed at work. Engage in aerobic activities when you can that will make you sweat and increase your heart rate, such as swimming, dancing, and power walking. I’ve even just walked the stairs with a book on my breaks before to reduce stress and get moving.
Exercises in general relaxes the body and mind, sharpens focus, boosts energy, and lifts your mood.
Reward Your Hard Work
Working moms are our own worst critics. There are times when we are happy to beat ourselves up—I’m thinking of the time I dropped about half of the balls I juggle at any given time and felt like my world was collapsing. It’s so easy to engage in those negative thoughts, but do you pump yourself up and encourage yourself, too?
Try rewarding your hard work toward reducing your stress by focusing on the amazing things you’re accomplishing. You work and raise a family! You’re amazing, momma.
These positive affirmations for moms have really helped me, as well! I place mine around my desk, my work space at home, and on my bathroom mirror. Whenever I see one, I say it to myself as a reminder that I am doing my best, and that’s okay.
Build Positive Relationships
Nature’s antidote to stress is social contact. Talking face-to-face with a good listener is an excellent way to relieve stress and calm your nervous system, so find your mom tribe. Those moms might be a groups of friends, family members, co-workers, or an online group of moms who just get it.
Choose a mom tribe that makes you feel at ease with yourself. Focus on developing friendships and opening up as you feel comfortable doing so.
From rewarding hard work to maintaining a healthy diet, there are many different ways for working moms to reduce stress at work. By making even just a few positive changes, you can make a big difference in your overall happiness and wellbeing.