I am so thankful for my working mom friends that keep it real as we share family challenges. The comments often sound like “My house is a disaster”, “I feel like I’m always yelling”, or “I am the one juggling work, home, school, chores and feel like no one even cares to help.” For women especially, COVID-19 quarantine has been a breeding ground for physical and mental stress. In a recent poll, 53% of women said COVID-19 related stress had a negative impact on their mental health, compared to 37% of men.
We’ve all heard the saying “If momma ain’t happy, no one is happy” and I see signs that many working women can attest to the truth of those words. Now more than ever, we have to be deliberate in how we choose to manage our mindset as it has a far reaching ripple effect on those closest to us.
You don’t control how someone else acts, but you can choose your own response and trust that your actions are making an impact on your family dynamic. It is important for you to even recognize when you are shifting into fight or flight mode. Here are a few of the early signs of stress:
Irritability - Feeling overly sensitive and argumentative
Anxious - Feeling restless , which often leads to emotional eating because you start raiding the pantry for something sweet
Muscle Tension - You are clenching your jaw, holding your shoulders in a raised position
Acting Out - Suddenly feeling the urge to binge on Amazon deals
Once the stressor takes hold, it’s important to quickly normalize and recenter. Try one of these healthy stress management tactics:
Take a breath or 3 - Deep breathing sends signals that you are in a safe place and helps slow down your stress response
Turn it up - Play some happy music and let your body freely respond. No judgement, just enjoy the moment. Who knows, maybe the rest of your family will decide they want to jump in and join you.
Find your scent - Fragrance has a calming effect on the body, so try some lavender or ylang-ylang
Get up & move - Whether a slow walk in nature or a few quick sprints, movement is a great way to help refocus your attention to something less stressful.
I am encouraging you to try just 1 new response and tune in to the consequences of your behavior. If the first one doesn’t work, try another. It doesn’t require flipping your whole life on its head, it just requires 1 small sustainable shift. Make this personal. Your health and wellbeing depends on it.