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Nurturing Your Spirit

Exploring Womanhood > Mind, Body & Soul > Nurturing Your Spirit

Nine Simple Stress-Busters for Moms
by Susie Michelle Cortright

My community is so laid back, it's amazing we don't all fall over. Here, stores open and close at the whim of the merchant. We ride mountain bikes that cost more than our cars. There are a lot of carpenters and writers, with the occasional backcountry kook thrown into the mix, just for excitement. It's as close to the Old West as one can get, minus the shoot-outs on Main Street.

In a community such as this, it never ceases to amaze me how I can manage to be so uptight and stressed, though it has helped me to accept one of life's universal truths: We are each responsible for the level of stress we feel each day.

Among our most critical responsibilities as mothers is the responsibility to the self - the responsibility to recharge our resources so that we feel balanced and energized and able to thrive under life's demands, and to model such a healthy approach to stress for our children.

Here's how to choose a life of less stress.

Make a few notes in your journal on the following questions:

  • Whether you're a WAHM, a SAHM, or a mom who works outside the home, why did you make that lifestyle choice? Write down all the reasons, both personal and professional. Such a list is an excellent tool for positive affirmation, particularly on those days when the sacrifices you've made stare you squarely in the face. If you discover that the choice you've made isn't the right one, outline the changes you need to make.

  • What are your priorities? How important is your spirituality, your family, your professional identity? Consider this ranking when you're called to make choices and compromises.

  • When have you put your identity, your plans, and your self-nurturing on hold while you took care of someone else? If you had 15 to 30 minutes each day for yourself, how would you spend it? Schedule time for yourself. Mark it in your day planner or on the family calendar.

  • How much of your stress level is the effect of dramatization? I'm guilty of this one. Life in the Old West can be so stress-free that it borders on boring. What better than an old-fashioned melodrama to spice things up a bit? Remind yourself that the level of stress you experience is directly related to the way you internalize it and the importance you place on these events.

  • Do nutrition and exercise contribute to your stress or help you manage it? If you aren't sure, keep an energy diary to help you determine the hidden factors in your lifestyle that may be robbing you of energy. Make a plan to change or eliminate those influences.

  • Log the times each day when you feel beat or burned out. For me, it's 3 pm - about the time I want to hit the cookie jar. Schedule your workout (not a great big snack) for the time of day when you need an energy boost. The best soul snack in the world is a daily walk or run.

  • How easy is it for you to say "no"? Respect yourself and your time enough to delegate tasks and refuse to take on more than you can handle.

  • Are you multi-tasking yourself into more stress? When we try to do too much at once, we are raising, not lowering, our stress level. Multi-task only when you can realistically fulfill all tasks adequately. It's hard to tune into your kids while you catch up on your own reading, for example, and you certainly can't take time out for yourself while simultaneously devoting the time to anyone else. Decide which tasks deserve your full attention. Then give it.

  • Do you have the support network you need? Conduct a search on Delphi, Topica, and Egroups for a group that shares your hobbies, interests, or lifestyle.

Another way to make connections is to take a class. The web is a great research tool, particularly for learning snippets of new subjects and skills. (For a comprehensive list of online learning centers, see Brain Food A La Carte: A Round-Up of the Web's Best Education Portals.) If you can get out of the house on a regular basis, enroll in a local free university or community college program.

Susie Michelle CortrightSusie Cortright is the founder of momscape.com and Momscape's Scrapbooking Playground. Join her scrapbooking club or learn more about starting your own scrapbooking business on Susie's team.

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