Stress happens to all of us. However, I suspect single parents (or any parents for that matter) get more than their fair share. The stressors seem to come from everywhere. Sometimes we can roll with it, other times the most benign incident might send us over the edge. Here are 15 effective and easy ways to manage that stress.
I once had a neighbor who was a single mom, and she once burst into big salty tears and simultaneously crumpled into a big sad pile on her kitchen floor. What caused her total breakdown? No one died. No fire set her modest little place ablaze. No one had run over her puppy, Mr. Cuddlesworth.
Overworked, sleep deprived and exhausted my neighbor accidentally hit the top of her head on the freezer door. She had been putting away groceries after a long day. For her it was the last straw. She was still raw from losing her partner and she still felt very bitter. This fridge on mom assault was too much.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt smothered by worry and pushed beyond our limits.
I’ve personally had more stress than any one person should have in a lifetime, but that’s for another post. When stress creeps into your life and stays for too long, try these stress busting tips and see what works for you.
This is by far the best tool I’ve found. Your adrenaline is probably surging and the best way to manage it is by using it up during exercise. When I found out my ex was cheating I went out at 3 AM for a LONG jog.
Exercise is a great way to get out your stress and frustrations. It also helps balance the chemicals in your body, something you need if you are under a lot of stress.
2. Eat well
This is basic but still needs to be included. If you are like me, you just stop eating when you are under massive stress. I lost almost 30 pounds in just over two months from the anxiety and trauma of a contentious divorce.
Of course I also dabble in comfort eating under more mild conditions. Either way you really should try to eat well to help your body cope with the stress.
Focus on whole foods that are nutrient dense. Smoothies, greens, and vegetables are all excellent options.
3. Practice deep breathing
Yes it’s cliché, but it’s helpful nonetheless. In the heat of the moment this technique can help you calm your mind enough to avoid impulsive reactions.
Seriously pretty mama, just B-R-E-A-T-H.
It soothes the nervous system, distracts you from the situation, and forces you to concentrate on other tasks. Because that five year old isn’t putting herself to bed.
Here are several techniques that you might find helpful.
4. Stay hydrated
There is a complex chemical snowball effect that happens when you are seriously stressed. It sounds odd but hydrating can help flush out some of those by-products.
Also, if you have high blood pressure water can help make your blood less viscous. Don’t believe me? Have you ever donated blood dehydrated? Ouch!
Add some mint leaves and cucumber to your water for a nice spa-like touch.
Although I love essential oils I’ve only recently delved into aromatherapy. I recently bought a vial of pure lavender oil, and my-oh-my, it’s very calming. A few of my favorite oils are lavender, patchouli, and orange oil. I’ve heard cedarwood is also a great calming oil as well.
If you want to read more about aromatherapy here’s a great little article about the science of aromatherapy and stress.
*Note, remember essential oils are strong and some may burn the skin if applied directly. Some oils are also photosensitive meaning they can amplify the effect of the sun on your skin. Always do thorough research BEFORE using any oil. And never use oil on or even around children without verifying their safety.
6. Get a massage, or several
There’s nothing like a good long massage to get your relax on. If a full priced massage isn’t in your budget, try a local massage school, they often offer budget friendly massages. I had a great school near me that only charged $20 for an hour long massage. I was more than happy to be practiced upon by the especially handsome and robust young masseuse I was paired with. It may not be as posh (or private) as a spa but it can be just what you need to feel a bit less tense.
7. Drink some beet juice
Beets are great for high blood pressure thanks to their ability to relax the blood vessels. If you are under a lot of stress chances are your blood pressure has seen better days. I like to mix my beet juice with carrot and apple to make it more palatable.
8. Sip some chamomile tea
This is a great sidekick for modern life. Chamomile tea relaxes the muscles and helps you fall asleep naturally. It’s often given to children to help them relax and is also great for an upset stomach. I have a cup every night as part of my pre-bed routine.
9. Try Bach Rescue Remedy
I recently discovered this little gem. Based on a formula designed by Dr. Edward Bach, it is derived from flower essences. This little potion is especially great for sudden fear, stress, and anxiety. I can’t recommend this enough, I keep a bottle in my purse at all times. Get it here.
10. Passionflower extract
I use this remedy as needed and I can’t say enough good things. It is a traditional remedy used to soothe the brain, so it’s especially helpful for those nights when an overworked brain keeps you from sleep. Something I used to deal with often. It can cause sleepiness in some people so I’d recommend trying it at night. I buy this brand.
11. Consider ashwagandha
If you are under long-term chronic stress, like what you’d experience during a divorce or after losing a job, consider adding ashwagandha to your routine. Ashwagandha has a long history of use in India and has remarkable anti-stress benefits. It helps regulate your stress response, lowers cortisol, balances your immune system, and even has demonstrated anti-cancer properties.
I recently added it to my routine, and it has been a life changer. Seriously life changing! I sleep better, wake up energetic, and am generally better able to deal with stress.
It also helps regulate the thyroid, both overactive and underactive, making it a great choice for adrenal fatigue.
12. Take up an empowering hobby
Here’s an unusual approach for you. If you are feeling broken or oppressed, try taking up something that gives you back your power. Anything that can give you a sense of strength, safety, or control can do the trick.
Think about taking a martial arts class, or a self-defense course. Get in touch with your inner Katniss Everdeen and try archery. Yes, I’m a nerd and I think archery is badass. What.
If you are inclined, take some firearms classes. Nothing makes you feel empowered like unloading a magazine between a pair of beady (paper target) eyes.
Of course always be responsible with your empowering new skills. Safety first!
13. Find gratitude
When the sky is falling all around you it may be difficult to see anything to be grateful for. I know this first hand. Believe me, I’ve been there. But if you can manage to find something in your life that is not lost, not contaminated by what’s hurting you, then that’s a start toward recovery. It can be incredibly healing to embrace gratitude.
Finding gratitude means that your enemies or circumstances haven’t bested you. It means you can still grasp at joy.
I’ll admit, I’m more of a doer than a meditater. That’s just the type A in me. I’ve always preferred a long hike to sitting quietly and trying to get touch with my inner kumbaya. But when I was being bombarded with legal proceedings, and having my entire world torn apart I was willing to try anything. So I did turn to meditation. For me, meditation was sitting quietly, breathing rhythmically, and repeating empowering affirmations.
Some folks prefer guided meditation. Some even find projects like knitting, building, or painting meditative. It can be whatever works for you.
If I’m in need of a quick relaxing sesh I go to calm.com for a quick uber calming experience. It’s also available as an app so you can relax from anywhere. Seriously, I love this app!
15. Adult Color Books
OMG where have these been all my life?!? I’m not sure who was the genius was that originally came up with these oh-so-soothing books, but good job sir (or ma’am), good job!
Ta-da! I hope you found something on this list that can help you manage the stress. Hang in there pretty mama, never forget you are AWESOME!