I got that a lot. From other moms at school, my dad and my friends. From clients at the advertising agency I own. Even from my husband.
I am a 31 year old mother of two. And somehow, my kids, my marriage and my company were all thriving.
But I was not.
Then, in November last year Zoe got sick. I took her to the doctor, rushed back home to answer emails and prepare for a presentation I had the following day and I broke down.
Not my car- me.
I sat on the carpet in the living room, hands shaking, barely able to breathe. I called my mom and sobbed- “I just can’t do this anymore”
Thus ending my facade of the perfect mom/wife/accounts manager, and I began a journey into dealing with my debilitating anxiety and insomnia; medication, meditation, and therapy. As I learned to heal my body and my mind, I searched for answers to one question: What the hell happened to me?
At first, I thought there was something wrong with me. After all, I have a loving husband, I am my own boss, I have happy kids, a beautiful dog, a good income and a new car. If I couldn’t manage a career and a family then how on earth are these other women doing it?
I started talking to other moms- I wanted to know how were they managing it. Guess what? They weren’t. They also felt like they fell short, suffered from mom guilt, feelings of not doing enough or not being enough. Some of them take anti-depressants. Others took anti-anxiety medications. Some of them meditate. Some of them smoke some good old MJ to relax. Most of them fantasized about quitting their jobs and living on an island. They were barely getting by emotionally. I had no idea. Like me, they had been putting a brave face on their suffering. Like me, they all assumed there was something wrong with them.
There are dozens of “self-help books” telling women they can do it all—succeed in demanding careers and still be good parents, good partners, and even happy, fulfilled people. But my experience and that of the women I know, told me a different story.
But how do we cope with all of that? Here is some quick tips that I PROMISE works really well. And it has helped me a lot!
- Learn your stress signs:
Learning to identify how you react to stress will help you curb your overload mode. For me it is that I start to feel hot. Weird- I know. As soon as I feel like that- I know I have to take a quick 5 minute break.
2. Take a break:
Giving yourself permission to take a brief “stress break” is often enough to decompress or just give a new perspective. Get up- make coffee. Take the dog out for a wee. Whatever gets you away from your current situation.
3. Create solutions for your “hot” times
Stress mounts for moms at predictable times, such as in the morning when everyone is getting ready for school or work are suicide hour when kids need to bath, eat, have quiet time and sleep. So what helps me is packing lunches the night before, putting the cups out for the morning coffee, and already setting everyones clothes out for the next day. (I don’t have a solution for suicide hour- sorry!)
4. Learn deep breathing or meditation
Deep abdominal breathing, meditation, and prayer are proven to help moderate stress and help the body relax.
5. Take time to laugh
Dance with the kids for a couple of minutes, play with the dogs. Whatever gets you to have a little laugh is good.
7. Find a support group
The truth is we devote so much time to our families, we forget to take time for our social needs, whether it’s our significant other or our girlfriends. Relationships help reduce our stress and restore balance. Join a drama free online community or take the time to have a quick chat to a friend, phone your mom. Women are absolutely great at supporting each other as we go through the similar stresses.
What is your secret to de-stress?