Moms Aren’t Okay — Here Are 5 Ways To Alleviate Our Stress Levels
The pandemic has caused many to experience mental health issues, but women, and especially mothers, have had a particularly difficult time. We do not just need a bath or a pedicure. We need something bigger. Unfortunately, we can’t “fix” the pandemic or the systemic problems with mothering in this country and world. But if you’re a mom, here are some actionable tips on what to do to make your life just an itty-bit easier.
1Host a Scream Party
Perhaps you’ve heard about the parties of mom screaming. I’m not saying you have to do that, exactly, but you are allowed to feel like screaming and deserve a way to let it go — especially if you’ve been home the last two years with the kids. Find some way to get that feeling of frustration out. Do a kickboxing class. Walk up a hill. Push on a wall. Do some deep belly breaths. Vent to your friends.
2Share the Mental Motherload
I had a hard time feeling like it was okay to complain to my friends. They were having a hard time, too. Family members were going into hospitals or dying. We are experiencing job stress, kid stress, spouse stress, all the stress. We are burning out. But, there is camaraderie in the struggle. We are all going through this together — we aren’t failing. Work to cultivate a conversational pattern with your friends where the mental mother load is shared. It's okay to be not okay and we need to stick together even when we're collectively hurting because we are always better together.
3Cry Out for Mercy (aka, Ask for Help)
Most of us are good at looking like we are okay, and not many of us like to ask for help when we need it. When I finally asked for help, the people around me were more than happy to show up and pitch in. You can ask a handy friend to help you reinstall the towel rack your toddler pulled out of the wall. You can seek help from a therapist as you sort through distressing thoughts. You can ask for help cleaning the house. Nothing is off limits when it comes to alleviating the load that’s weighing you down.
4Give Yourself the Gift of Altruism
Helping others outside of your own family, whether it’s making a meal for your friend who had a baby or volunteering in your community, is shown to improve mental health. Being “of use” is a valuable mental strategy and is a step toward ensuring you are living in the kind of world you hope it can be — which is a better place for us all.
5Know That Change Is Hard, but Good
Like the kitten dangling from the branch on the motivational poster, hang tight. When everything feels like it sucks, maintaining a growth mindset instead of a closed one is going to positively ripple out to everyone around you. Your career isn’t where you want it to be … yet. The kids are having a hard time transitioning back to full-time school … for now. If we’ve learned anything from the last two years it’s that life is transitory and tenuous. We are always changing and, even when it doesn’t feel like it’s for the best, change can always be harnessed into growth.
The Bottom Line
This list isn’t a cure-all. It’s more effective than a long bath, though. Still take those, of course, if it makes you happy, but also know that you are working to do your best to keep your family together. This way of living is not normal and transparency about our struggles will help us in the short-term and may lead to a better way of navigating life in the long-term, too.