Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stop Stress In Its Tracks

Sometimes it creeps up on you, sometimes it crashes into you, sometimes it consumes you, but frequently it seems, stress seems to be just around the next corner. My day is going smoothly, and then something ALWAYS happens to interrupt my "zen" flow.

Reality! You wake up late or you wake up too early. You forget your cell phone or you accidentally wash (and dry!) your cell phone (me with pregnant brain during my second pregnancy). You grocery shop and then leave the groceries at the store (my cousin and dear friend, right after the birth of her second child). You make up your child's bed neatly and, in the meantime, he or she is hard at work sabotaging your latest manuscript (kids love laptops, especially mine!). You go to work to provide family financial stability, but in the end you have no time to spend with the family you are working so hard for.

Mothers, the original gurus of multi-tasking,
can have a pretty long "stress" list. In fact, the more we multi-task, the more stressed and less efficient we become. (can I get an amen there?)

So this week, I will share "real time" stress relief secrets. This means I will offer up stress relief tips that work in real life - like the ones I use while I try to get my kids to nap so I can finish this blog or the ones I use when the kids spew their oatmeal at each other as I (try to) concentrate on answering work email - you know - that kind of "real time".

Even now, as I work, I am listening to my oldest sing his own nonstop rendition (by request) of happy birthday to his brother (it's not his birthday) while they "nap." So here it goes....

7 Ways to Stop Mommy/Wife Stress In Its Tracks:
  1. Stressful Scenario: The kids are not listening to you (boy if I had a nickel for every time this happened).
  2. Solution: Whisper, don't shout. I use to shout, but after a year of chronically losing my voice I learned something neat. When I spoke in a tone closer to a whisper than a shout, my kids listened more. Also, stick around until you get the results you are looking for. In yoga speak, this means helping a student align their pose, then not moving on to the next student until they have achieved the safe alignment you want. The same is true with children. To get them to nap, I hung around outside their bedroom door. (I recently moved them into a shared room, so bed time has gotten very interesting.) Each time I would hear little feet on the floor, I would open the door and calmly remind them to stay in their beds. I also tossed in a carrot - I told them "we will have more time for fun after their nap if they go to sleep now." The results were profound.
  3. Benefit: You don't have to get anymore headaches from listening to your head roar. You can prevent wrinkles from not having to twist up your face in exasperation all the time. Your posture will improve because you can take the time to bend down on one knee and explain to them why they are in trouble, instead of hunching over or throwing your head back to get your voice to travel the furthest distance at the loudest volume possible. Lastly, your shouts become more effective when they are truly needed (like a dangerous situation of running into traffic, etc.), They will be less likely to think you are "crying wolf" and will be much more receptive to you. I get lots more "I wuv you's (I love you's) from my kids for shouting less and speaking gently more.
  1. Scenario: Your husband is not listening to you. (hmm, another nickel anyone?)
  2. Solution: One of my biggest pet peeves is repeating myself. And, there is nothing worse than repeating yourself when no one is listening. So when this scenario arises, I remind myself that no one is a perfect listener. In addition, not many people digest information after they've only heard it once. (can anyone pass that physics or biology test after only reading the information once?) Remind yourself that everyone is fragile and you are not the center of the universe. Your husband is likely as stressed as you are. Ask him what he may need to get off his chest as well. The fact is, how well can you pay attention to details if you are already overwhelmed with information (aka hyper stimulated)? If these reminders do not work, send your partner an email or write a short letter. Consider it a "love letter". A means for really slowing down to say what you mean. When is the last time you wrote one a love letter to your partner? Do it today. Lastly, try to avoid working out problems during chaotic times. I am not a procrastinator. In fact, I am the anti-thesis of a procrastinator. But for working on marital bliss with your partner, sometimes procrastination is a good thing. Instead of trying to work through a disagreement while the kids are also melting down, postpone it. The immediacy of what you disagreed over will subside. Let yourself mellow for a while (not steep!), and see if you can speak about it when the situation has calmed itself.
  3. Benefit: Improved communication, hands down. By far, the biggest troublemaker in a relationship is lack of or ineffective communication. Usually, it is because of anger or expectations. (i.e. You get angry because expectations were not met. For example, "I thought you were going to pick up the groceries. or I thought Friday was our date night? or I cannot believe you said that to me.") Explain what you mean, without animosity or hidden agenda. If you cannot do it out loud, do it in writing. Many times, you can explain things better if you write them out first, and you are less likely to let anger dictate your speech.
Stay tuned...5 More Stress Busters to come this week!

*photo taken in June of this year during a trip to Grandfather mountain. ...a typical day in the life of any mother....

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