Mothers: How to Turn Stress into Positive Energy
“Many of us hurry through life going from one place to the next, focused on conquering the next mountain, making the next deal, running the next errand, and believing we will never have enough time to do all the things we need to get done. Yet, there is all the time in the world if we just realize that we are the creators of this life we choose to live.” - David Zerfoss, author of Stress is a Choice
That's right. Life is a series of choices. Getting married was a choice you made years ago. Being a mother was a choice, or perhaps more of a blessing. However, for many mothers out there – motherhood also came with its own bundle of stressors and sacrifices. From mere lack of sleep in the early days of motherhood, to sacrifices in time and financial resources, and finally, an apparent loss of the freedom to choose.
I use the word “apparent” because we will never lose this freedom to choose. As Victor Frankl declared in his book, Man's Search for Meaning: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
So take heart, no matter how frustrated and busy you get, remember: You have a choice whether you want to be free from stress or not.
That is the first step towards overcoming stress in your life – the realisation that YOU have a choice. Only when you have accepted that truth, can you move on to turn whatever stress you are experiencing into positive energy.
The goal in overcoming stress is not to eliminate it as a whole but to learn how to manage it and turn it into positive energy to help us achieve our dreams and goals. As we strive to find an optimal level of stress in our lives we will start to see that proper amounts of stress motivate us to excel in our performance and disproportional levels of stress can suffocate and overwhelm us and cause untold miseries for our psyche and the physique. To be totally “stress-free” can sometimes equate to a life of little excitement, and we don't want that as well.
A person who is feeling stressed is likely to have the following missing elements in their life:
“Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by day, in all the thousand small, uncaring ways.”
- Stephen Saint Vincent Benet
The good news is: It’s not difficult to transform from a stressed person who’s merely “occupying space” and just living from day to day, into a passionate, self-motivated HAPPY individual.
All you may need is a change in perspective: Just change the way you think. People with a good sense of perspective know where they are headed. They are able to separate what’s important and what’s not. They do not allow themselves to get caught up with little irritations or with bad news. They realize that they will experience sad times as well as happy times, and know how important it is to value the happy times.
You may be just a small cog in the wheel in the company you work for, or “just a homemaker” as you call yourself, but when you realize that the wheel - or the home, for that matter - will not function well without this cog, you will be able to feel real passion and see meaning in what you do.
More often than not, we get stressed out when deadlines loom and the mountain of work seems to be getting higher. The boss is after your tail, the kids' exams are looming, your husband is getting on your nerves, and you just feel like there are too many demands on the limited time you have available.
You may be surprised to hear this: it’s never about the amount of work or demands per se; the stress comes from a feeling of having lost control.
If you look back at the happiest time of your time, most likely you will find it was a time when you had autonomy in your life – a feeling that you have options and time to exercise those options.
How does one get autonomy? Firstly, you must manage your time more effectively. Second, you have to learn skills that will help you work smarter. Finally, you must constantly protect space for yourself; to the point of being a little bit selfish and not giving all your time away.
I use Stephen Covey's Four Quadrant principle to manage my time. If you want to know more about this, grab hold of a copy of his book on First Things First.
“Shared joy is double joy, and shared sorrow is half-sorrow.” - Swedish proverb.
Connectiveness has to do with the relationships in your life – the quality and quantity of time you spend with the people you care about. People who are dislocated from a familiar environment often fall sick because they feel disconnected. If you have a strong connectiveness, you’re less likely to get stressed out.
One test to check the level of connectiveness in your work environment: When you go away from the office for a period of time, do your colleagues miss you, or even realize you were not around? (I sincerely hope you don't have to ask yourself that question with regards to your family!)
How can you develop a satisfactory level of connectiveness, wherever you may be? You can start by making an effort to put an extra something into every relationship, be it just a kind word, a friendly greeting or even a smile. Watch out for the words you use – you can turn what sounds like criticism into positive feedback or even reinforcement just by carefully selecting the right words.
I love this instruction given to someone who wants to check how connected they are to their friends. Go home, find the biggest hammer you can, put one foot up on a chair and then... hammer your big toe as hard as you can! If you hear a scream, then it’s your toe. If not, it’s someone else’s. Moral of the story: if you are truly connected to whom you say you are, you would never hurt them consciously with unkind words, criticism or even gossip.
How physically fit and healthy are you feeling right now? For a holistic approach to managing stress, it’s also very important to look at what is happening to your body. More often than not, it’s a chicken and egg situation - are you stressed because of your physical condition or is your physical condition the result of stress?
To get into the right tone, you need to be mindful of two areas: Diet and Exercise. There are no short cuts to good health. Unfortunately, it is not the case as singer Cher once said wistfully, “Fitness - if it came in a bottle, everybody would have a great body.”
By eating properly – good nourishing and nutritious food, and exercising at least 20 minutes three or four times a week, you will have more energy and not gain unnecessary weight, as well as be able to handle stress better.
I hope these tips have been helpful. If you still don’t know how to get started or need a sounding board, find yourself a coach or a mentor who can be your “conscience”, your success guide and encourager, or write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
So, go on, life’s for living. You’ve got nothing to lose – except a limited, stressful life, where nothing awesome ever happens; and everything to gain – a fulfilled life with no regrets!
Article by Jessica See of Health Coach International. Jessica is a Certified Professional Trainer and Coach, IPMA, UK, Clinical Nutritionist and Corporate Stress Management Consultant. For more details on an upcoming workshop on Midlife Map: What Matters, What Works and What's Next, email: email@example.com.