Ask a Nurse: My Top 5 Ways to Reduce Stress
Pamela is an RN, MSN/Ed.
Pamela is a mother of 6 amazing children ages 11 to 24. She is a nurse educator and loves to travel overseas to work in medical clinics and teach health-related topics to schools and communities. She has been married to her best friend, Steve, for 29 years. She has many different interests including reading, writing (NOT arithmetic!), baking, teaching, and spending time with her family. She lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband and two youngest daughters.
My Top 5 Ways to Reduce Stress
Once upon a time, there was a lovely mother. She prepared 3 healthy meals (plus snacks!) for her family from scratch every day. She grew her own vegetables, sewed all her family’s clothes, made her own cheese and yogurt (from her own goat that she milked every day), and still had time to keep a spotless home! She drove her children to their many activities, volunteered at the homeless shelter and brought meals to shut-ins. Before her husband came home from work each day, she freshened up, brushed her naturally curly hair until it was glossy and put on lipstick. She greeted him with a smile and a kiss, and spent the rest of the evening charming him with her wit and intelligence. This woman always had time to visit on the phone when you called, was happy to babysit any amount of children at a moment’s notice, and had a kind word for everyone. She lit up the room, she was amazing….she was my dream.
Enter reality. Many of us would love to be that woman. Some of us even strive for it. If you are like me, you realize how miserably we fail at meeting our own expectations! Do you know why? I’ll tell you: we try to live up to unrealistic expectations, we want to be (and think we can be) super-women! I am not trying to pop your bubble, honest. I have been around the block a few times (remember my birthday post a few weeks ago?), and have raised 5 great kids to adulthood, and one pretty terrific 12 year old! I get praised all the time on what a great mother I was/am…do you want to know the truth? I felt like I was a failure most days. I knew when I messed up, you probably do to. I think many of us put too much pressure on being the perfect mom. If we aren’t careful, we will waste time wallowing over our ineptitude before we realize our kids are all grown up!
Take some pressure off yourself; you do not have to be perfect to be a great mother! Some of the sweetest times with my children were after I apologized to them. Yes, you read correctly, I apologized. How can we expect our children to take responsibility for their mistakes if we don’t model it for them? Next time you speak harshly or snap at your child, try this-“honey, I’m sorry I spoke to you like that. It didn’t sound nice. Please forgive me.” It’s ok to tell them you felt stressed, had a headache, or were mad. Even if it was your child who gave you the headache, it is perfectly appropriate to tell them that you should not have yelled (or whatever). The child can still be told what they did was wrong. You are just telling them that even if you are angry, it was not nice to yell or speak unkindly toward them.
Mothering is stressful. Forgive yourself for not being perfect! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but, you aren’t going to be perfect. Ever. Get over it, and move on! Do your best, ask for help, and give yourself a break.
Now, here are my top 5 ways to reduce stress!
1. Sing! Turn the music up in the car, in the kitchen, where ever you can and make a joyful noise! (When my kids were driving me crazy, I sometimes just kept turning up the volume until it drowned out their bickering!) Go ahead, get your groove on! Opera in the kitchen while making sandwiches? Don’t mind if I do!
2. Laugh! Take time to get in a good belly-laugh, daily! Need some inspiration? My husband and I looked through a couple hundred photos on “clean funny pics” on facebook the other day. We were laughing so hard that tears were running down our faces, and our bellies hurt!
3. Take a bubble bath! Sink into a tub of warm, fragrant bubbles and go to your happy place! If you have young children, this will work better when they are napping or being supervised by an older sibling or other responsible human (your golden retriever may seem responsible, but may have trouble changing diapers).
4. Take a Sunday afternoon nap! Maybe you can do this on a different day, I always found Sunday afternoon to be perfect. My husband was home, there was no agenda, and the kids learned that they needed to do something quietly or rest themselves. After a stressful week, my Sunday naps seemed to recharge me!
5. Eat some chocolate! You didn’t think I was going to get through the list without this one, did you? Dark chocolate is healthier, but go ahead and have some milk chocolate, if that’s what you like. I like to put one square of dove chocolate in my mouth and let it melt slowly….mmm, I can feel my stress going already! Did I really say only one square? I must have meant one bag, right?
I hope you have found some of this helpful to you! What tip are you going to try today? As for me….I’m going to go get stocked up on chocolate!
Remember to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I would love to hear your suggestions for a future article!
Until next week-
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