8 Tips for Managing Stress
It’s fitting that my last post was activity tips for toddlers, because the two days that came after it were just insane. And I followed absolutely none of my own advice. I certainly didn’t intend to put myself on a pedestal the other day, but the past two, really tough days made me think. About how easy it is to feel like you have it all together. About relying on God when He shows you that, no, you will never get your poop in a group on your own.
With that being said, I thought it would be a perfect time to talk about dealing with stress. Not in a “look at me, I’m always cool as a cucumber” kind of way, but to stand in solidarity with you on those hard, hard days, and maybe give you a teeny hand up.
A quick caveat, however: if you find yourself drowning day after day, it might be time to reach out to someone in real life who can offer you more in-depth help than a blog post can. Your spouse, your pastor, your doctor, your friend, etc. Speak up if you’re struggling, don’t suffer in silence.
So, stress. I could give you broad-stroke, big-picture encouragement but, as great and wonderful and needed as that is, I want to give you a few practical tips instead. Most of these are tailored specifically toward motherhood but, really, they apply to everyone. Also, please bear in mind that I am far from perfect when it comes to dealing with stress (actually, I’m terrible at it), so just think of this as advice from someone who’s been there. Additionally, I’m sticking to managing it in the moment, like putting a Band Aid on a scrape, and not addressing long-term solutions because I’m just not qualified for that.
Pray: The biggest and the most obvious of all, and also the hardest thing for me to actually do. I get caught up in trying to handle things on my own and failing miserably that I neglect the most important thing. But it’s funny how God uses even the quickest and most desperate pleas to strengthen us.
Scripture: As nice as two hours of silence with the Bible, a hot cup of coffee, and maybe some scented candles is, that’s not always reality, especially if you have young children. Sometimes all you get is a quick few minutes, and sometimes not even that. Here’s where it’s really helpful to have a few Bible passages tucked away in your memory banks that you can use to anchor yourself to the truth when you just don’t have the time for anything else. You can even write them down on little cards or sticky notes and post them around your house and carry them in you pockets, if that’s your thing.
Time outs: No, I’ll not talking about for your toddler, I’m talking about for you. If things have gotten so chaotic that you feel like you might explode, step outside or into the other room for a short while to decompress (assuming, of course, that any kiddos are safe and have their immediate needs met). A little gulp of solitude really works wonders.
Grab a snack: All jokes about being hangry aside, sometimes you’re feeling extra grumpy or stressed because your blood sugar just tanked and your body is trying to cue you in. I find that keeping protein-rich snacks in the house is a good way to make sure I’m fueling my body and staying level (FYI, not a doctor, so talk to yours if you’re concerned about this).
Go for a walk: If the weather permits, plunk everybody in the stroller and just get outside. Obviously, this won’t work if it’s your office that’s your source of stress and not kids. But, if you’re dealing with humans of the tiny variety, a little fresh air and exercise (plus being corralled and the extra movement) might be just what they need.
Go for a drive: If your kids do well in the car, that is. Sometimes, when everyone’s crying or someone won’t nap, strapping your littles into their car seats and just driving for a bit can help calm things down. Put on some music they like, and they might just fall asleep (fingers crossed).
Switch it up: Try something different than whatever it is you’ve been trying. Like if you’re struggling to get out of the house for story time at the library, consider scrapping your plans and staying home to read instead. Or, if your sticky kitchen floors are making you want to pull your hair out, just go mop. I’ve found that, often, the source of my stress is me trying to shove the square peg of my desires into the round hole of reality.
Text a friend: Everyone usually tells you to call a friend, but that’s not always feasible. This is especially true if, say, you’re a stay at home parent and all your friends work (or the reverse). For me, just voicing my feelings in a short text can sometimes help stop them rattling around my brain, driving my crazy.
So, there you have it: my 8 maybe not so unique but authentic tips for handling stress in the moment. Hopefully you found something helpful or, at the very least, that you’re not alone in dealing with it. As always, thanks for being here, friends.