Motherhood is stressful for various reasons. Everyone talks about it, everyone knows it, but only a few do something to change it. Not only can stress have significant impact on mental health for mothers, it undoubtedly impacts the relationship with their children. Many mothers experience stress for years and when stress is prolonged and not properly addressed, it can lead to more severe mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Mothers who are experiencing stress may find themselves feeling overwhelmed, irritable, and fatigued. They lash out more, have less patience, and may be inflexible with the rules and routines that they set for their kids. Stress and anxiety impacts a person in various ways. While some may have trouble sleeping, experience changes in appetite, and find it hard to concentrate, others may find themselves on the opposite side of the spectrum and struggle to get out of bed, want to be alone, have unstoppable crying episodes, lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, and may need professional help.
As previously mentioned, and important to note, maternal stress can impact children too. When a mother is experiencing high levels of stress/depression/anxiety, it can affect her ability to provide emotional support and care for her children. Sometimes, mothers may have greater difficulty regulating their emotions and yell more, are angrier, or disconnect completely. Without intervention, the relationship slowly continues to deteriorate and both experience additional stress, sadness, and possibly anger or resentment for the situation or each other. As a therapist, I work with mothers to address their mental health concerns and develop strategies for managing stress. This can include techniques such as mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. By addressing maternal stress, we can help to improve the mental health and well-being of both mothers and their children.
Here are three things you can start doing today:
Prioritize self-care: This does not mean putting it off until you find a babysitter or when the kids don't have extracurricular activities. Make a list of things you can do right now and other things you can do when you do find a babysitter. Have this list readily available. These can be taking a longer shower, putting the kids to bed early to watch your fave show, or reading that book you've been postponing.
Delegate: We are like superwoman but that does not mean we have to be superwoman. If it doesn't get done well or to your standards, that's ok. Focus on delegating more tasks to those in your household. Too many children, teens even, do not have chores or responsibilities and the burden falls on the mother to do it all. Chores are important for mothers to have more "me time" and for kids to learn to be independent and self-sufficient.
Find meaningful connections: Motherhood can seem like a lonely cave where everything around us is ours to manage and there is no one around to help, share our thoughts and feelings with, or to connect. Humans are social beings and research has proven time and time again that connecting with other parents who may be experiencing similar challenges is highly beneficial for our mental health. The emotional support that we can provide and receive as well as having a sense of community can shield us from additional stress and reduce the one we may be currently experiencing.
In other words, talk about it, share your feelings, take action, and find a community. If you'd like to know how to do this and more, hop over to the Membership area and you can find more information on becoming part of a great community.