My journey of understanding all things stress began sometime between 2015 and 2016 – a time when I was extremely stressed out because of the long distance between myself and my husband. ⠀
We spent a period of 2.5 years living apart for his job and during that time I was pregnant with our 3rd, had to pack and move, and go weeks without seeing him.⠀
I never wish that amount of stress on ANY mother and while that time nearly broke me, I learned enough to turn things around and improve myself so that I’m now better able to cope with stressful moments.
My hope with this series, 30 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress without Leaving Home, is that it will help to give you some tips that you’ll find useful when you can’t get a break from stay-at-home-mom life and need to reduce stress from the comforts of home.
Every other week, I’ll release the next post in this series. Each one will outline 5 tips to help you reduce stress. Hopefully, you’ll come away from this series learning not only ways to cope with feelings of stress, but you’ll actually feel better because you’ve taken the time to practice some of them.
Ready? Let’s go!
1) Take a 1 hour break from your phone
I love my iPhone as much as any Apple fan!⠀And because I’m practical, I love the convenience of having a supercomputer at my fingertips. But it has its faults.⠀
Like how it notifies me of things that I’m in NO mood to deal with right now. Do you know what I mean? ⠀
So, to kick start this series, you have to hear me when I say that your phone just might be a major source of stress and you probably don’t even realize it.⠀
Believe me. I’m the LAST person who wants to tell you that your phone is the problem in this relationship, but it is.⠀
Hear me out: Each time your phone alerts you with multiple texts, bill email reminders, or breaking news notifications, your body responds by creating the stress hormone cortisol. And, cortisol isn’t your BFF, mama.⠀
Cortisol makes your heart rate go up because your body took those phone messages to mean you’re in danger and it’s trying to prepare you to fight.⠀
But you aren’t really in danger, right?⠀
You can blame it on our caveman days. And the reality is our body hasn’t caught up with the times. But the good news is that you can help control it – somewhat.⠀
Well, for starters, you could aim to stay away from your phone for 1 hour. Yes, a whole hour!⠀
And, trust me, it will be difficult if you’ve never done this before. But, this exercise will teach you a lot about your phone habits. ⠀
You’ll learn how often you think about wanting to do something on your phone (like check Insta).⠀
And you’ll learn if being away from your phone brings you relaxation (which is my hope) or if it causes you anxiety (which may be the case for some).⠀
I tend to get in trouble because my phone is accidentally left in another room and I won’t realize it until an hour or so later. AND I’ll have like 10 missed calls from my husband. Ooops.⠀
But I have been very mindful of my phone habits. I find that on days where I spend MORE time than usual on my phone, the more stressed out I feel.⠀
So, if you’re ready, try going for an hour without your phone and let me know how it goes!
2) Call a loved one.
Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. ⠀
That’s what happens every time I get on the phone with my mom. ⠀
And no matter what we end up talking about, I always walk away in a better mood. Because, let’s face it – staying home with the kids all day without adult interaction sucks!⠀
So whether you want to call to just catch up and see how they are doing or need someone to vent to, take a break sometime today and pick up the phone and call a loved one.⠀
Therapists everywhere agree that talking about your feelings (or venting) helps you process what’s going on in your head, thus reducing stress. Sometimes, if something is bothering you, talking about it with someone else helps you release it. And if you’ve been following me for some time, you know that I’m all about doing things to let stuff go.⠀
Personally, sometimes saying things out loud helps me to put my thoughts into perspective. It’s sometimes not until I speak my feelings out loud to someone else do I then realize how to best move forward.⠀
So, schedule time to call a loved one this week. Leave them a message if they don’t pick up. They’ll be happy to hear your voice.
3) Skip out on chores
It’s one thing to go through the entire day and not get anything done. It’s an entirely different thing when you take a break on purpose. Am I right?⠀
This tip is all about freeing up some mental bandwidth, mama. I don’t know about you, but I go around looking at things around the house thinking, “I need to do that” or “When was the last time I cleaned that?”⠀
And, as a stay-at-home mom, this is every day for me, even though I have a system of doing certain chores on set days.
It feels more exhausting thinking about the chores than actually doing them!⠀
So, if you were to just give yourself permission to NOT do any chores for an entire day, do you know that will happen? Your brain will get a break. It will stop looking at your home searching for problems to solve (rather chores to do).⠀
Because your brain loves to solve problems. And find them. Which is stressful. So, give your brain the day off on the chore front.⠀
Instead, do something else that you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had the chance.⠀
Maybe read a book, create something, or teach your kids a fun game you enjoyed as a kid. Since your brain won’t obsess over the housework, it will be free to come up with new ideas. And maybe something inspiring will come through (which happens to me pretty regularly).
So, take a load off, mama.⠀
And let me know how you filled that time instead.
4) Hug it out
In real life, hugs reduce your cortisol levels (stress hormone) and reduce anxiety. But with all the social distancing right now, perhaps sending virtual hugs may also do the trick? Only one way to find out! ⠀
It feels good to let others know you’re thinking of them. I know I love getting random messages from friends and family.⠀
So tap into those good vibes and shoot out a few cyber hugs today.⠀
And, if your kiddos or spouse are nearby, try to soak in any free hug offered your way. Better yet, be the one to initiate the hug. Hugging for at least 30 seconds is the key to reducing your stress levels, so the longer the better.
5) Watch something funny
You’ve probably heard the phrase “laughter is the best medicine.” But do you know why? ⠀
When you laugh, you cause a series of physical things to happen to your body.⠀
But let me back up a minute and explain what your body is like when it’s stressed out.⠀
Faced with stress, your heart races, and your body shuts down certain systems in order to conserve energy. It’s the only way the body knows how to help you survive. It wants to make sure you have what you need to run away. And while you’re stuck in this survival mode, your muscles are tense and your adrenaline is working overtime.⠀
Laughing, on the other hand, tells your body that you’re safe. It’s as simple as that. It sends a message to the brain that says, “Wait a minute. We’re not in danger. She wouldn’t be laughing if we were in any real danger.” And the body starts to relax and lowers your heart rate and turns those systems it turned off back on.⠀
Pretty cool, huh?⠀
So, pop on your favorite comedy or watch a new one.
To recap this first post in the series 30 Simple Ways to Reduce Stress without Leaving Home, here are the first 5 ways one more time:
- Take a one hour break from using your phone.
- Call a loved one and vent.
- Don’t do any chores for a day – on purpose!
- Hug someone you love.
- Watch something that will make you laugh away the stress.
While these are certainly simple and don’t require you to leave home, you might feel uncomfortable doing some of these. Whether it’s trying to stay away from your phone or purposely neglecting your house, lean into the feelings that come up during that time and perhaps journal about them.
I think a big part of living a life that is more relaxed means resisting the urge to suppress our stressful feelings, to distract away from them so we don’t need to feel them. However, I’ve learned that the longer I try and ignore them, the larger they grow and the bigger negative impact they have on my life.
Sometimes all we need to do is just sit and honor how we are feeling because it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, it’s okay to feel stressed out. What’s not okay is pretending we’re okay and pushing ourselves past those feelings and covering them up by busying ourselves as a distraction. Throughout this series, I hope that you’ll be able to grow more comfortable with sitting with those feelings so that you can release them.
Remember: you can do hard things, uncomfortable things. That’s how you grow, that’s how you evolve. That’s how you move past the overwhelm and how you find your way to a life of peace.
PS Be sure to subscribe to Master Mom Stress be notified when I publish new posts, including the next 5 posts in this series. You’ll find the form below. As a subscriber, you’ll also receive my monthly email, “The Calm Download.” It’s filled with encouragement and motivation to help you navigate stress so you can overcome it. You can also find me over on Instagram @laurens.life.plans.