By Arlene Pellicane, Crosswalk.com
Recently on a blog post, I asked moms to answer this question: What’s the stress level in your household (high, medium or low)? The resounding majority cried out “HIGH!!!”
Comments ranged from, “I homeschool my 8 and 4 year old boys and have a 6 month old adopted daughter” to, “I’m a single mom with a house that needs constant TLC” to, “I have two teenage daughters…need I say more?” After reading comment after comment, I admit my stress level was rising fast also!
According to the American Psychological Association, even short-lived, minor stress can have a negative impact on your body. You might feel fatigued, unable to focus, or irritable for no apparent reason. Too much stress produces wear and tear on the body and exacerbates pre-existing conditions like heart disease.
These next three action steps may seem like too-easy-to-be-true solutions, but if you actually do these three things, you will experience significantly less stress in your mom life.
Laugh Daily. Researchers have found a correlation between how much you experience positive emotions like joy and happiness and a decreased rate of heart disease. That sounds a lot like Proverbs 17:22 which says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
In my book 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Mom, I interviewed media personality and mother of seven Hannah Keeley. Hannah is like a party waiting to happen. She is a fun person. But of course, when you’re a busy mom, that fun person can go into hiding. She remembers her husband asking her once at bedtime, “Did you have fun today?” She thought about it and said, “No, I don’t think I had fun today.” Can you relate? Hannah says, “We should go to bed every night and ask ourselves, ‘Did I have fun today?’ I think so many times we flip into this role of being a tyrannical mom. But if we can take time and have fun and understand one another, we understand what makes our family members tick.” Make it your aim to laugh at least once every day. It’s okay to write “have some fun” on your to-do list.
Sleep More. When I’m running ragged, existing on little sleep, I am not a happy camper. But if I get enough sleep – and I’m talking about a solid eight hours here – I am even keeled, productive, and much less stressed. Somehow we’ve bought the lie that it’s nobler to do more and sleep less. Go ahead and take a hit on your personal health and survive on a few hours of sleep. You can catch up on sleep later but your to-do list is now.
But I say, sleep more and be a nicer, less stressed mom. Benefits of sleep include more energy, less risk of heart disease and other diseases, improved memory and strong immunity. If you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, try:
- Cutting back on caffeine
- Going to bed at the same time each night
- Turning off all your screens 30 minutes before bedtime
- Practice relaxing activities like stretching or reading before bedtime
Yell Less. You know the feeling. It’s the tenth time you’ve asked your child to pick up his toys and you’re about to lose it. Heat is rising within you like a volcano. Believe me, yelling will not only leave a bad taste in your mouth, it will spike your stress up instantly.
Instead of yelling, use other methods of communication which also happen to be more effective. The battles with your children will not be won by who can yell the loudest or stomp the hardest. The war will be won by the smart mom who disciplines not with endless accusations or loud overtones, but with action. What are consequences that will get your child’s attention? You want your motto to be: Yell less. Do more. Speak with loud actions and you will avoid the stress of losing it and your children will pay better attention to consequences that hurt.
For instance, I was getting tired of asking my children (ages 5, 8 and 10) to clean their dishes after every meal. So instead of lecturing or yelling, I simply said, “If you forget to put your dish away, it will cost you one dollar.” Believe me, my saver son got that lesson right away. I never have to ask him to put away his dish now. My stress level is lower at mealtimes because of that magic dollar fine.
Here’s a joke to get you started so you have more fun today. It’s one of my kids’ favorites. Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7, 8, 9 (because seven ate nine!).
Today remember to laugh, sleep for eight hours (it’s okay if everything doesn’t get done), and yell less. Your blood pressure and your family will thank you for it.
Publication date: September 17, 2015