Once women come to see me in my practice and begin to understand what it is that has caused their body distress, such as back pain or other general physical symptoms, they all ask me how they can better manage their stress.
The answer isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, however, with some consideration and planning, you can pick and choose from the following list to tailor the solutions to fit your own life.
I usually recommend beginning with the following – starting with introducing one thing and moving on to slowly form habits that will help them thrive. It’s important to do these things and fit them into your life but to also do them in a spirit of generosity to yourself, rather than committing to them out of a sense of guilt. Do these things because you know that they will allow you to function better and for longer – not because it’s another ‘have-to’:
Exercise. There are huge benefits to fitting exercise into your life two or three times per week if possible. You can exercise at night, or make use of childcare arrangements offered increasingly by gyms these days. Getting your body moving will not only benefit you physically but the endorphins produced by exercise will also make your mood lift.
Having family days out
Having family days out. Making time for activities as a family that nurture the relationships within the family, helps both of you to remember why it is that you decided to have children. This doesn’t have to be exercise-related, either. You can play games, watch a movie together, or go out for a meal or an outing. What matters is spending time together that does not involve your regular schedule.
Removing social expectations from the equation
Removing social expectations from the equation. Keeping up with what you’re ‘meant’ to be doing as parents can further stress an already tense situation. Becoming more conscious of what you ‘should’ listen to, and really thinking about what is important for your own family, rather than just trying to keep up with what the current trend says is ‘best,’ is a must. This takes a bit of mental work, firstly to notice the outside pressures that you’re letting in, and then deciding whether those pressures are worth keeping or not, but it’s worth the effort in the long run because it also makes you evolve as a parent.
Meditation/yoga/pilates/relaxation. All of these promote a mind/body connection that is easily lost in the everyday parenting marathon. Having a healthy mind/body connection means that when something goes wrong, it’s noticed earlier and can be more easily treated.
There are many choices that women can make regarding having a better stress management self-care routine. Most cities, and even rural centres, have classes and systems in place to support parents of young families to thrive rather than just survive. Whether you identify more with the former or latter, making the decision to take your life and health into your own hands will greatly improve your quality of life, and also your resilience in both mind and body when it comes to stress.