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stress

5 Strategies to Reduce the Stress of Motherhood

By Victoria Smith

Stress is on the rise, particularly with women. But, I don’t need to tell you that, do I? Intuitively, we feel overwhelmed. From acting as a perpetual chauffeur to coordinating play dates, or from healthy meal planning to juggling sick days and attempting to work from home, motherhood is stressful. Here’s the deal, though, it can be less stressful when you have the right tools, strategies and mindset in place.

Before we get into five strategies that you can implement immediately, we need to start with mindset. If you think your day is going to be stressful, it will, because that’s how you’ve primed your brain. You’ve given it the signal to find evidence of stress wherever you look. To counter this, what I want you to do is start every day by setting an intention. Believe me, I know that if you wake with the kids, it can be hard to find a moment for that, so a fall back can be to write out your intention and set it next to your alarm clock. What should that intention be? I put it back to you – how would you like your day to go? For example, my daily intention is to show up as an engaged parent, wife and friend, and a Rockstar entrepreneur. Yours could be to a search for gratitude. Or to be mindful. The intention is personal to your needs and desires, but set one and start each day reminding yourself of it. Only then will the following strategies take real effect.

1. Stop comparing yourself to other moms

It is so easy to get into a shame-spiral of how you are performing as a mother when your friends or Insta-community are throwing Pinterest-perfect parties for a two year-old. Or maybe you pick
up your child from daycare only to find out that they’ve bitten another child – of course it would be the most well-behaved child of the seemingly put together momma. We are all on our own  motherhood journeys. We all have our own past, our own challenges, and our own beliefs to grapple with. Just because you do things differently doesn’t mean you’re doing them worse. First step if you find yourself in this comparison black hole? Take a social media break. If the comparison is coming from in-person interactions, before each encounter remind yourself that you are doing the best with what you have, and your kids are well-loved. Because at the end of the day, your child won’t care about the perfect party or baked goods or that they were potty trained a year before all the other kids. They’ll remember time spent one-on-one with you, the cuddles and bedtime stories. Presence and love matter most.

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In Lifestyle, Parenting, Random Thoughts on
July 22, 2017

How To “Girls Night” As a Mom In Your Late 30’s

I read an article about a study by Currys PC World that found 37 is the magic age when you’re “too old to go clubbing”. I’m turning 37 in November and I’m very sad to admit, I wasn’t too surprised to hear this.

Now, we all know every person is different, and ask any of my friends, I LOVE to dance. It’s always been my stress reliever – going out with friends, letting loose and dancing the night away. These studies are not exact. If you love nothing more than dressing up and hitting the clubs, more power to ya!

I’ve discovered recently I, myself, would much rather stay in and spend quality time with my besties – preferably in our PJs. Here’s how I make “Moms Night In” awesome – a sleepover.

  1. The Costco Run.  There must be one of these ahead of time so you’re all stocked up. On the list? Wine, maybe some Sangria (cause Costco Sangria is actually really yummy), cheese, chips, cheese to melt on said chips…and more wine.
  2. Decide who is kicking their husband and kids out. That sounded harsh.  One of you can try to convince your husband that taking the kids for sleep overs at grandma and grandpas would be fun, or taking them camping maybe? LOL. Bottom line is, the hosting mom should have as much freedom as the rest of you, no kids to take care of, no Husband to crash the party. This might mean splitting a hotel room, or in my “bestie circle” case, volunteentold-ing the Mom with the hot tub at her house…..
  3. Get dressed….or don’t? This is the easy part. If you’re already wearing your most comfy clothes, you’re ready. And don’t worry about makeup. Give your skin a chance to breathe, your girls love you just as you are – natural. If you’re feeling really ambitious you can pack a next day change of clothes (and swimsuit for the hot tub).
  4. Activities – bring em. Cards Against Humanity is awful, but one of our faves. Others we enjoy are Asshole, Scattergories, and 80’s Trivia. Even Poker is great fun. We also usually pick a movie – which is another great Mom’s Night idea, going to see a movie. OR binge watch the newest and greatest on Netflix.
  5. Order in. With options like Skip the Dishes and UberEats, pizza is not the only option anymore. Just make sure whatever it is, if there are dishes you clean it up together. Again, Host mom shouldn’t be left with a mess, we aren’t 17 anymore. 😉

In the end, even if I’m older, I still need my dose of a good time but I’m embracing this tamer me. Hanging with girl friends, mom friends, it’s a bit like therapy. You talk about you, you talk about them, you laugh, maybe you cry, and in the end, it probably costs less than a session with an expert. Plus all of you have a full cup when you leave, ready to face another day juggling the balls of motherhood.

Edmonton's Child

In Business, Health, Lifestyle, Working Mama on
April 29, 2017

5 Scientifically Proven Ways To Achieve Your Goals At Home and Work

Are you struggling to achieve your goals? You’re not alone. The majority of people don’t last long before they stumble, get frustrated, blame themselves or others, make excuses, and then give up. Research shows for successful change you truly have to want to achieve it and also have supporting elements to help the change. 

People fail on their goals because they are missing elements
to support their success, NOT because they’re incapable.

Use these scientifically proven tips to help you achieve your resolution and any goals throughout the year.

  1. When you’re creating your goals, make it positive. Our brains can’t process negative statements very well. Think of when you ask your child to “not spill his milk”… what happens? It spills. It’s because the brain thinks in visuals, not words. It forms a picture related to the statement, which is spill milk, and so the brain gets wired for the opposite of what you want and unintentionally focuses on that outcome. The same is true for “stop smoking”, “lose weight” or “reduce clutter”. The brain is reinforced with “smoking”, “weight” and clutter”.  Reframe it into what you actually want. To breathe clean fresh air and have fresh breath. To be slim and move with ease. To have a home with clear surfaces.
  2. Write it down. The process of writing down what you want creates a physical action that makes the brain remember what you want more than if you just think it. A Goals study done at Dominican University in 2015 showed those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals.Also, keep your goals visible. Post it where you can see it daily. Small visual cues help to remind your brain of what you want and keep you on track.
  3. Know why you want it. It’s important to go even deeper than a surface level goal to achieve resolution success. You need to understand the true reason for wanting to change because that creates the motivation behind the goal. Ask yourself, why do I want this? How is this going to improve my life? How does it positively impact others around me? Who am I when I achieve this?

When you answer these questions you’ll have the motivation behind the change and that will help sustain you. 

  1. Create realistic strategies and timelines that don’t overwhelm. Sometimes we get so excited about our goals that we jump in with lots of changes but then realize we can’t sustain all our strategies long term. It creates overwhelm and then frustration and we quit.

One of the keys to long-term success is taking small actionable steps and doing that one thing for a couple weeks. Then build on it. If you’re looking to eat healthier, start with finding one small change you can make to move forward. Perhaps adding more veggies to meals. Once you’re doing that consistently, then add another small change.

When you make small changes that you can achieve, you have more to celebrate. It creates mini wins that will support you to keep going.

  1. Accountability and having the right support networks helps big time. If you’re serious about achieving your resolution, tell people about your goals and get a partner with a similar goal. Holding each other accountable, as well as cheering them on, helps many people achieve their goals. It’s more fun to do it with a friend… but one that is going to hold you accountable and not let you off the hook.Life and business coaches, personal trainers, nutritionists and other people in a support team are experts in getting results for their clients. They not only have the knowledge, but most have been trained in the psychology of change and habit making. If you’re really committed to making a change, consider hiring an expert to give you the guidance, support, and accountability, especially for those days that you fall off the wagon. They’ll get you back going quickly.

Today is a good day to begin!

The last thought I’d like to leave you with is simply, “today is a good day to begin.” It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday. Forgive yourself and let it go. Refocus on why you want to make the change and start again today.

 

Jenifer Horvath is the founder of Heart Lifted Coaching. She helps moms reduce their overwhelm, stress and guilt, in order to be happier, calmer and live a more meaningful life. She loves Alberta and has lived in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer. When not hanging out with her family or coaching, you’ll find her having dance parties, reading about brain science, and chugging coffee with friends. Find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Originally written for Edmonton’s Child.

 

 

 

 

In Health, Random Thoughts on
April 28, 2017

Social Media Stress & A Break

Social Media is one of those catch 22’s. It’ great for connecting with friends, businesses or clients. On the other hand, constantly being fed other people’s information, thoughts and highlight reels is just plain exhausting. Sometimes we don’t know the difference between our own thoughts and the opinions of others around us.

I found myself a few days just plain burnt out from social media and decided to take a break for a few days. *Insert loud gasp from all bloggers and social media people*. I took all apps off my phone and never checked in on my laptop. I’ve done this before during teacher trainings and it felt really good. This time I backed off from some work and extra things in my life in conjunction with my social media spring detox.

At first I will admit it’s sort of odd. It’s kind of like you don’t know what to do with your hands or time. Then I realized I could maybe spend some time on other things I actually enjoy. For example, I LOVE baking, but find I never have the time anymore. So my kids and I made banana bread. I actually paid attention to the Netflix I was watching too! I even read some of a book I’ve been working on reading for about 2 months.

The point isn’t what you do, but that you take the break. Social media of all kinds can be bombarding on our stress levels. On my personal blog I wrote a blog post about Self Care and Taking A Simple Bath. In the post I talk about NOT being on our phones, because in reality when you are soaking in the tub and checking Facebook are you actually relaxed? Not usually. We might log on to relax at the end of our day and then scroll to find Aunt so and so or that girl you’ve hated since the 5th grade but still added her as a friend has done YET AGAIN another annoying thing!

Soooooooooo we aren’t really relaxing are we? Comparing our lives to people’s highlight reels. So take a break. Back off for a few days. I promise you wont miss much. I came back to over 120 notifications on Facebook alone after two days and honestly I missed NOTHING. None of it was important! My banana bread however, was ridiculously yummy.

 

Love,

Jen The Bitchin’ Housewife

In Parenting, Random Thoughts on
April 28, 2017

A Better Me, A Better Mom

Have you ever been talking to your kids and stopped and thought, “Wow, I sound just like my Mother”?

I’ve had that, many times, and while I love my mom, for me, it wasn’t just the typical things. There were lots of things that made me step back.

I’ve made many choices over the course of deciding to have kids that were purposefully different than the way I grew up, as an only child, in a small town. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t have a horrible childhood, I was taken care of, had what I needed but I don’t want to have the same kind of relationship with my daughter that I do with my mom. I want the relationship I see my friends having. Lunches with their moms, traveling with them, hearing morsels of wisdom they learned from their mom. I made a decision; I needed to do better if I want more.

For some reason, more so than my son, I am overly critical with my daughter. I have to actually remind myself positive enforcement is good. I have a really hard time being goofy with them. With adults, I am known for my ability to make a fool of myself for the sake of making people smile but with them, it’s like I need to have my “Moms the boss” hat on all the time. I get distracted, have a hard time focusing on just them, getting down and playing with them.

Both my kids talk to me, they tell me stories about their day, I ask questions, I make a point of listening, the last thing I want is to lose this. I feel like if I don’t get better at all the other things, that’s all going to change as they grow because it’s about respect, feeling loved, not just knowing they’re loved. Knowing they can tell me anything.

Over the summer I read the book Mother’s Who Can’t Love by Susan Forward, Ph.D. To say it was enlightening would be an understatement. It was like light bulb after light bulb and I still go through my notes (yes, I’m a nerd who made notes) to remind myself of the things that hit home. I realized by reading this book that I wasn’t going to be able to do this on my own. I read more books, great books, Brene Brown mostly, the end goal being a better me, hence a better mom.

At the prodding of friends, I eventually invested in myself in the way of a therapist. My first appointment was another epiphany. I cannot tell you the weightlessness I felt walking out the doors. I felt validated, I wasn’t actually a crazy person, and on top of that, like it was possible for me to have that thing I wanted most. To be the kind of mom the kids want to come home to, not just when they are small, or tweens or teens but as adults coming home for Sunday dinner.

She sent me home with a really good book that led to even more “a-ha” moments. I’ve had 2 appointments so far, work in progress. I keep reading more books, writing down when I don’t do things the way I’d like to, and trying to figure out what my triggers are.

I’ve got some good plans in place that have changed things for me, small things, but that’s the important part in all of this. To remember I won’t change overnight, it won’t be big things, it’s small steps. My kids know I’m working on myself, I’ve told them and they know Mommy goes to see someone that’s trying to help her be better. I apologize when I mess up, and I do better the next time.

I see the differences between the way I grew up and the way they are growing up. That is what keeps me going.

~ Annonymous AM