It’s not uncommon for women to be the thread that holds things together both at work and at home.
When you’re in this position, you can’t afford to let things slide, because it’s like a Jenga castle, once one brick goes, the whole tower collapses.
When it comes to stress we tell ourselves “I’m coping just fine” or “I can manage”. Yes, we do cope, that’s the survival instinct. When we think of someone stressed, we think of someone who has reached the tipping point or had a nervous breakdown.
Yet, a lifeline study in 2015 found that 90% of Australians experience stress in at least one major area of their life. While some stress is normal for some fundamental functions of our body, too much stress can have long term impact on our health.
We don’t always see these creeping warning signs. Our body produces cortisol, a stress response hormone for us to be able to function in the ‘flight or fight’ phase or when we need to physically exert ourselves. However, if we are in a constant state of stress, we are overproducing cortisol which can have unhealthy side effects. Here are four simple ways you can manage your stress to help slow down the production of cortisol.
I love “ohms”. This ancient practice allows sound vibrations to massage your internal organs and is very simple to do. I was first taught how to do this in a pre-natal yoga class. The instructor informed us that if we practised this on a regular basis, once our baby was born, the sound of the ohms would relax the baby.
A viral video of a dad doing this with his baby has done the rounds on the internet recently. I found that I could do the practice while driving in stressful peak hour traffic so that by the time I reached my destination I was not stressed by the manic drivers, but calm and grounded.
Breathing is an essential component to meditation but can also be valuable in a conscious state. Deep breathing can lower blood pressure, heart rate and the production of stress hormones.
The 4-7-8 breathing method is a formula that is meant to give you immediate stress relief, and is designed on a yogic practice made famous by Dr Andrew Weil. The process is to:
- Breath out through your mouth making a whoosh sound
- Close your mouth and breath in quietly through your nose for a count of 4
- Hold for a count of 7
- Forcefully breathe out to a count of 8, pushing out your lips.
Start with no more than 4 breathing cycles, and, with practice, over time extend to a maximum of 8. And if you can’t remember the 4-7-8, then just remember ‘low and slow’.
Permission to forget
If you find that you are dwelling, fretting or simply can’t sleep because your brain is firing off things to remember, this simple remedy works really well. Simply say to yourself “Thank you, but not now, thank you.”
You are saying to your unconscious mind that you are grateful for it keeping you aware and alert of something important, but you kindly ask it to remind you at another time. It sounds silly but it actually works well.
When you are a busy Mum, you probably feel like you’re rushing from one place to another. You cram in as much as you can in one area then move onto the next. Slow down!
Take off 15 minutes from your anticipated departure time. Use that 15 minutes at your desk, in the car or wherever you are to stop. Practice your breathing and consciously “close-off” what you are doing and where you are. You don’t want to drag your stress from one appointment to the next, allow yourself some closure time and anchor that event to the “here and and now” rather than constantly catapulting into the next appointment.
These little tools don’t always require a lot of effort, thought or planning but can make a significant difference to your daily stress levels.
Consider this, being productive isn’t about going fast, it’s about doing it smart.
Stop rushing, driving too fast and getting upset at things you can’t control.
Those extra minutes you’ve gained, aren’t worth the stress.
How do you combat your stress on the spot? Share with us in the comments.