When the “S” on Your Chest Stands for STRESS
(How it affects your children and ways to handle it!)
 By Camille McDaniel, LPC, NCC, CPCS

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Wife, Sister, Friend, Aunt, Employee, Employer, Bottle Warmer, Diaper Changer, House Cook, Tear Wiper, Taxi Driver, Comforter… 

There are so many titles that moms have today, it’s no wonder a little stress (or A LOT) may fall your way.  I frequently meet moms who set rather high standards and goals for juggling all the titles they posses, in order to make sure everyone else is happy. After all, that’s what moms do right? Hmmm. When they are not able to meet these monumental goals, they are disappointed and stressed. 

Stress can come from many sources, in addition to constant high expectations of yourself. If by chance you are a mom that doesn’t have a strong support system to lean on then you may experience increased amounts of stress. 

The University of Rochester completed a study. They followed 169 diverse children for 3 years. The findings of their study were published in a journal called Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The researchers discovered that continuous parent and family stress can increase strep infections and other illnesses in children.  It also appears that children effected by chronic parent and family stress experience and increase in their natural killer (NK) cell function. NK cell function is the part of the body’s immune system that prepares to kill germs that don’t belong, unlike adults, whose function is decreased with chronic stress.

So maybe chronic stress is good for my child since the immune system increases those natural killer cells right?  Well let’s put it this way, using the heart as an example. When you get into a situation that frightens you, your heart may start racing, pumping blood to all the organs needed to help you flee danger. However, if that heart doesn’t stop racing, over time it starts to exhaust it’s strength and wears down. That is true for the immune system functions too.

So how can you turn the S on your chest from STRESS to SERENITY? Well let’s try these 5 steps for starters:

Step 1 Secure a Support System – Some of you may have great supports but others may not be able to identify their supports as easily.  Friends, Family, Siblings, Online Friends, Social Groups, Religious Groups. Identify YOUR supports.

Step 2 Say No – It’s wonderful to be the person others can count on. It’s nice to volunteer when you see there is a need. However, it’s not really helping YOU if you are not being truthful with yourself about whether you really have the time and strength to do the task. Saying no should not be seen as a negative. If you are continuously stressing yourself out because you say yes, even when you really don’t have the time and/or resources, then it’s time to try a little “no”.

Step 3 Take Time Out During the Day- Daily, you should have “Mommy Time” to allow your mind and body to rejuvenate.  Whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour, the world will not stop if you take time for yourself but you and others can suffer if you don’t.

Step 4 Encourage Yourself – Positive self talk can have a great effect in regards to emotional well being. “I am doing a great job with the skills I have” “I didn’t get it right today but every second presents a new chance, let’s see what I can do differently tomorrow” “It’s ok if I don’t get things done like ____________, my pace works good for me and that’s ok” “Being a mom is no simple task and I’m doing it! I am some kind of awesome”.

Step 4 Face, Hair, and Dress – Whether you are a stay at home mom or a working mom, taking care of your appearance can actually help you feel better about yourself. Tailor it to your style. Try a little lip gloss or lip stick. A different hair cut or style can help. Do your clothes make you feel good about you? Whether it’s the playground or the workplace take pride in your appearance and boost yourself up a few points.

Step 5 Laugh – It’s a simple little exercise but laughter has great healing and relaxing power. Essentially because it releases endorphins, a hormone that acts as a natural pain and stress reliever.  Laugh at yourself,  get a good comedy dvd and watch it, call one of your supports and act silly, get creative and laugh.