Every person has stress in their lives. Stress can be a good thing. It can motivate us to reach our goals, reach a deadline, and increase our overall productivity. But stress can also be extremely damaging to our health if it is allowed to get out of control. Stress can lead to cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease, and is also a contributor to obesity and diabetes (source).
Unfortunately, as mom’s, bad stress can become so commonplace that it seems like it is just a fact of life. Whether you are a stay at home mom, work from home, or work outside the home doesn’t matter. Motherhood is extremely stressful. There are sleepless nights, messy houses, and screaming children on a daily basis. If we don’t learn how to control our stress, it can overwhelm us and suck the joy out of our lives. I’ve been there. It’s not a happy place for me, for my children, or my husband.
I have found a few different methods of stress relief that have been working for me, and I would like to share them with you. These should work for you no matter if you are a mom or not, I am just speaking from my experience.
1) Prayer- This is a biggie for me. When I get stressed, my attitude is the first thing to take a nosedive. As soon as I feel myself getting all knotted up and snappy, my prayer is “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) Especially if I am busy, I will just stop what I am doing and ask God to help my spirit. This only takes a couple seconds and it does help! I also will often ask God in prayer to guide my steps and help me to figure out what to do. When I feel the need to complain, I will pour it all out to God, and usually within a couple minutes I feel better and my complaints don’t seem half as bad as they did before. I have found that if I take my complaints to God, I feel better, but if I take my complaints to my husband, we both end up feeling worse.
2) Recognize Your Stressors- What is causing you to be stressed? My biggest stressors are a dirty house and whiny children. If I wake up in the morning and there are dishes in the sink or laundry on the floor, my day is already off to a bad start. Since I know this, I can take a few minutes before bed to tidy up. This week we had revival meetings at our church every night, so I’m too tired by time I get home to focus much on the house. I can definitely tell the difference in my morning mood. As for whiny children, since I know this stresses me out so much, I have been working with my especially whiny one by having her use her words and talk in a sweet voice instead of getting overwhelmed and whiny. Children get stressed out too and need to learn coping skills.
3) Clean- This kind of goes with #2, because if I’m cleaning I am removing a major stressor. Plus the act of putting things in order and bringing beauty to my surroundings seems to put me in a better mood. I wasn’t always this way. I used to despise cleaning and would be in a bad mood the whole time. I have asked God so many times to help me to love to clean, and while I’m not there yet, I am learning to like it.
4) Get Active- Sometimes stress gets so built up that it needs an outlet. A brisk walk or a few jumping jacks helps to dissipate some of the stress and clears my mind, so I am better able to focus on what needs to be done.
5) Essential Oils- When essential oils are inhaled, they work directly with the limbic system of the brain, which activates memories and emotions. Have you ever smelled something, and it brought back a long forgotten memory from childhood? The smell triggered that memory in your brain. Essential oils work in much the same way. Some have the ability to calm and soothe, while others have the ability to focus and energize. When I am stressed out, my favorite oils to use are Stress Away (which totally works like it’s name implies), Frankincense, and Geranium. I just put a couple drops behind my ears and am usually feeling much calmer within minutes. I also like to diffuse Orange or Lemon, which are both uplifting and energizing scents, so when the house is a mess and I’ve got to get to it, these enable me to tackle the mess with a happy heart. You can find out more about essential oils here and here.
I hope some of these methods will work for you. Do you have any proven stress relievers you would like to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments.