If you are a mompreneur managing the needs of your business and your growing family, you know how much you can get done in a given day. Although some days are more productive than others, most moms keep on pushing – and may often miss the early warning signs of burn out.
Are You Irritable and Losing Your Patience?
Irritability is one of the early signs of burnout. If you’re finding yourself overreacting to clients, coworkers, or kids you may be struggling with overwhelm. No display or test of patience will fix the need for a good vacation.
Acute stress is seen in people who experience such things as trauma, terrorist incidents or major disasters. Experiences such as these are easy to attribute to stress, and those who live through them are at more risk because of the lasting effects of such stress long term. However, people who survive such stress, generally seek medical and professional help to cope.
The others of us who find ourselves experiencing abnormal stress levels as a way of life, are the ones who may really need these 7 simple tips.
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What is stress?
Stress is difficult to universally define because each person is different: While some people thrive on a busy, active schedule and are able to cope well with daily stresses, others may be easily stressed by the slightest change in their daily routine. Most people fall somewhere in between. High stress levels are manageable in response to short-term situations. Short term stress allows the body to produce life-saving reactions, as in – Uh OH – There’s a Bear… I better RUN! This situation, is a very good example of when a stress reaction becomes necessary for survival and has served humans well through time. However, due to our increasing ability to stay busy, awake, alert and hooked in, humans have pushed ourselves way past what would be considered normal conditions. We have affected the normal curve of human behavior by our daily practices, and have really started to mess with our body’s ability to keep up. Too often, we stay up too late, do not exercise, use caffeine, alcohol and sugar to replace nutrition, and have put ourselves into severe adrenal overdrive…
What’s worse, is that we are calling these ‘lifestyle’ practices – Normal.
If you find yourself saying: “I wish I could, I’m just too busy”, or “If only I had the time”, or “I don’t remember the last time I _____”, you’re probably living with too much stress.
Signs you’re living with too much stress
Review this list and consider how often you experience these conditions:
- Difficulty sleeping for 6-8 hours due to worries and endless thoughts
- Impatience or ‘snapping’ when confronted with minor problems
- Difficulty concentrating, conflicting priorities causing forgetfulness, and difficulty making decisions
- Increased ‘numbing’ activities such as: drinking, smoking or eating in excess
- Inability to relax, and an overwhelming feeling that things need to be done
- Feeling tense, headaches, shoulder aches, sick, nauseated, ‘knot’ in the stomach, sweaty, dry mouth or a thumping heart.
When these above reactions are the result of a fight-or-flight response, they are not only understandable but, as such can be reasoned with.
In a crunch or high-stress period, symptoms can develop quickly over minutes or hours – in direct reaction to the stressful event. And, when they are the result of an emergency, they usually settle fairly quickly, but can sometimes last for several days or weeks.
For example, when you experience bursts of stress in reaction to life’s twists – such as when you have to push for a deadline, experience a car accident, or need to prepare for a big test – Your adrenal glands kick in to help you survive! But, you also KNOW this is a contained and predictable stressful period of time – And you also know an ‘end’ is within reach.
But when you live too long with stressful conditions with no end in sight – You create a constant state of emergency in your body. If physical symptoms like those above are what you consider to be ‘normal’, they may be the result of stress hormones that have been released into the bloodstream (such as adrenaline and epinephrine). If your body does not ‘utilize’ the power of those hormones to react, the very presence of those underutilized hormones can cause you to have over-reactions and strange nervous impulses throughout your body.
If your body’s hormones are reacting as if you are living in a constant state of alert, you may be headed for bigger problems. You’ll need to soon intervene and make some significant life-style shifts.
Ways to cope with stress
The following is a list of suggestions that may be useful to try to combat stress.
- Log your stressors in a diary. Keep a diary and log your stressful occurrences over the next week. List the times, places, and people that aggravate your stress levels. You may see patterns begin to emerge. Review your log to determine your triggers that you can avoid. If supermarket shopping is stressful, consider when and where you shop. Are there times that the stressors will be less? Try shopping then. I’ve become a huge fan of online shopping (even for groceries) – and cut my stress and time commitment considerably as a result. It costs $10 more – is avoiding extra stress and saving 4-6 hours every two weeks worth $10 in what I pay? ABSOLUTELY!
- Count to 3. The age-old mommy-technique of counting to three to indicate a consequence is on it’s way if your child doesn’t shape up – can easily be turned back on yourself. Before you react, as soon as you begin to feel your stress bubbling up – close your eyes, breathe deeply and count to three. See if it helps.
- Do something physical. Do it. Daily. Really. It works. Anything you like to do. Just start. Today. Clear?
- Stop, drop and roll. Remember the old fire-safety tip: If you smell smoke, you need to stop, drop and roll away from the fire. Well, with a little editorial twist – this works wonderfully as a quick de-stressor too! For example, my computer announces the time aloud every hour: “It’s one o-clock”. While it used to annoy me, I now consider it a behavioral cue to actually do something physical – When I hear it, I stand up and wiggle around, get a drink, shift my focus, or (sometimes) drop down on the floor and do a few crunches. The break and boost of a little planned adrenaline response actually does make a difference in my body and my mood!
- Breathe deeply. “But Cena, I’m too stressed – really, you think simple breathing will make a difference?” YEP – Taking mini breathing breaks daily is a VERY easy practice that helps me move out of computer drone-brain and shift my focus. Sit down (or push back from your computer), put your hands in your lap, drop your shoulders, close your eyes and breathe in deeply. Hold your breath for four counts, then release. Repeat this three to five times and see how much more focused and less stressed you are.
- Eat at regular intervals. Any time you focus on a lifestyle shift, regular, healthy, nutritious eating comes into play. Routine eating (healthy food) is one of the easiest and quickest ways to feel better. Eating every 3 – 4 hours will help you avoid insulin shifts and keep you more even-keeled.
- Dump your brain daily. (This is one of my favorites!) Having trouble sleeping? Try this quick tip! Keep a pad of paper by your bedside. At night before you turn out your light, write down everything on your mind. It doesn’t matter if it’s a checklist or a mind map – just DUMP IT out on paper. I promise, it will be there in the morning. You won’t forget any detail… but you will be able to have a holding place for your thoughts and worries so you can focus on relaxing and drop into dreamland.
Try practicing these simple techniques for one week and see how they work for you. You may find some of these quick de-stressor’s hard to quit… And, of course – once or twice a week, try to plan some down time. Find a way to be alone and unobtainable. Turn off your phone, get away from your computer and just be quiet.
Sometimes stress becomes severe. See a doctor if your stress symptoms (like those listed above) have become chronic. You may be ready for more intense treatment, counseling or even medication may be appropriate.
What stressors get in the way of your productivity? Please use the comment box to share your quick tips on how YOU de-stress!