It’s sad but true, today’s adults are under far more stress than adults from previous generations. Jobs are hard to find. Money is tight. Parenting is far more challenging and there’s far less help from family. Considering all this, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of issues that plague us every day.
Stress comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s the screaming monster that finally snaps when little Jimmy can’t find his shoes and you’re already running late. Sometimes it’s the magnetic pull to the snack cupboard midafternoon after an already long day. Sometimes it’s not being able to sleep even if you are exhausted.
Here’s your gentle reminder to take it easy on yourself. It doesn’t matter who you are, when more and more things pile up on your “to-do” list and you know you can’t possibly do them all, then it’s time to regroup and create a better plan — one where you get the support you need and have the family help more. Oh, and it would be super helpful not to take on more than you can actually do. There’s no gold star for killing yourself to make homemade cookies for the preschool snack.
When you catch yourself in the middle of a stress-triggered action, whether it’s losing your cool or sneaking a cookie, give yourself a little talk. Tell yourself that you made a less than helpful choice because of stress, but you are learning to do better. Stress isn’t an excuse, it’s a symptom of a larger problem. If you know what that problem is, I’d urge you to brainstorm a few solutions after you’ve calmed yourself down.
When things start getting overwhelming remember to BREATHE. Take a moment to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can with the time you have and you are willing to work towards making things better.
For most of my adult life, I’ve played a careful game of just how much I can take on in a day before cracking at the seams. It’s not the most healthy practice, but in a way, it forces me to create a weird sort of balance between all the different things going on. Some mornings that might mean an hour of editing before getting the kids up for breakfast. Some days it means choosing to work in the yard in the hour before sundown because the creative juices dry up mid-afternoon.
No matter how I plan it, I still get blindsided by stressful situations, usually when I’m getting tired and the kiddos start fighting. Remembering to step back and take a calming breath not only helps me keep myself together, but also teaches the kiddos emotional regulation by example.