Hands down, we love our families. Our children – with their open minds, creative endeavours and infectious laughs – make getting out of bed worthwhile; our partners are often just where we need them to be, when we need someone, and often make up the exact other half that compliments our own. Wouldn’t trade them for the world, right?
But don’t you sometimes just need a break, like in Tahiti? You can love your family, but not like them at certain points, and you can love them, but know that the politics involved in caring for your family is driving you to the brink of… well, you fill in your own blank, there.
No one ever told me that it was okay to feel that way, or to be selfish and not put my daughter ahead of my own wished and needs, 100% of the time. No one told me that stress could do so much damage, and that prolonged stress – even if you’re existing okay with it – is such a heavy burden.
The facts about stress:
- it plays a role in the development of heart disease, stroke and hypertension.
- it can even be a factor in diabetes (type 2) development.
- chronic sufferers often feel burnt out, overwhelmed, imbalanced, angry, depressed and anxious.
- sufferers may self-medicate by overeating, drinking, smoking or using drugs (even prescription drugs count).
- inadequate nutrition is often a side-effect of a stressful lifestyle, and energy is often sapped, making exercise seem like too much of a challenge.
- when people are often stressed, they can experience sleep issues, which compounds with the stress to give them a ‘dumb’ feeling – cognitive impairment.
- when you experience a stressful moment, cortisol is released. Cortisol not only slows metabolism, fat gained from stress often heads right to your waistline.
So, you know the basic scary bits, but how about this: a chronically stressed out mom doesn’t get to enjoy her family much, always worrying about what has to be done, paid, washed, etc. So because of that, and the prevailing tension and even anger chronic stress can create, your family might be less happier, too.
A chronically-stress mom never takes time for herself – there’s so much she has to manage! But what about this: if you never take time out for you, are you ever getting to be happy, yourself, or is it entirely reliant on others’ happiness and feats?
Here’s my suggestion: put an extra movie on for the kids and your to-do list on hold. Write a nice, long list of everything you do in a typical week, all of your ‘responsibilities’, and if possible, estimate how much time they take from your week.
Figure out what from your long list can be done by someone else, whether it means splitting housekeeping chores amongst the whole family, cooking days with your partner and older children, electing some drop-off and chauffeur responsibilities to your partner, etc.
Secondly, figure out what can simply be removed from your list. Don’t want to be on the PTA this year? Quit. You read 252 blogs a day? Scale back or only read every 4th post. We all commit to doing some things, and then find ourselves uninterested, but feeling like we have to. You know, you don’t have to. It’s your life – create it.
Your baby-step goal? To free up at least one hour for yourself a day, without a mountain of stress on your back. But don’t stop there. After a couple of weeks on this new kick, I want you to make a new list, similar to the first. My bet is that you’ll be surprised by how less urgent and important all of those should-dos are, when you’re living life fairly stress-free. In fact, I’ll wager that you’ll find yourself eliminating most of the list, seeking flow and naturally finding happiness at the silliest moments.