All Articles Tagged "stress"
by Yolanda Darville
“Cook the turkey and ham, see if Cynthia is baking the pies, clean the house, make sure I have games for the kids, call Uncle Joe to pick up Grandma in time for dinner, yada, yada, yada. . .”
That’s the inner monologue of most of us super-mamas as we prepare for Thanksgiving. While the Butterball turkey commercial shows serene moms preparing meals in anticipation of a peaceful family Thanksgiving meal, that scenario is far from true for most of us. Honestly, for many of us the holidays are just plain STRESSFUL!
And there’s good reason! Holidays bring lots of pressure. Often sparks fly as family members who feud all year gather together for hours at a time. There’s a huge pressure to prepare a delicious meal. And then there are dozens of screaming nieces and nephews running around the house. Not to mention the finances involved with big family gatherings. And guess who gets to coordinate it all? That’s right, mama – it’s you!
According to the Mayo Clinic, holiday stress is extremely common. But you don’t have to just smile, and pretend to be the holiday version of Wonder Woman. There are several easy things you can do to de-stress your Thanksgiving. Here are a few tips:
Own your feelings. If you have a case of the “holiday blues,” it’s okay. Acknowledge your feelings. Faking happiness during the holidays won’t help you become happier. But taking time to recognize your own feelings are the first step to feeling better.
Don’t try to be a superhero. Thanksgiving is about gathering with family and friends and giving thanks. It’s not about stressing yourself out to have a perfect holiday. Be sure to delegate various holiday preparation tasks to family members. There’s no reason for you to do everything yourself.
Let bygones be bygones. Thanksgiving is a great time to lay aside differences with family members. Instead of spending time fuming over past arguments, focus on how thankful you are to have your family altogether.
Make a budget and stick to it. You can’t buy holiday happiness, so don’t grow broke trying. Stay within your means when shopping for the Thanksgiving meal. And if the projected bill seems overwhelming, call on other family members to do their part.
Keep up your healthy behaviors. Continue to eat right and exercise as Thanksgiving approaches. It will boost your mood and help you handle stress. According to Psychology Today, regular exercise has the same effect on brain chemistry as prescription antidepressants!
So now you’re ready to take on Thanksgiving. Be sure to pass the turkey, but skip the holiday stress.
Mommies, what’s your favorite tip for staying cool during the holidays?
Yolanda Darville is a mom, writer, communications strategist and blogger focusing on philanthropy and empowering women. Learn more about her on her blog www.bahamamommyinc.com .
We parents always delight about our ‘little blessings’ to each other and how our lives would be so different without them, but we also know what a pain in the butt is it to be a mom. Honestly.
Word is, someone out there agrees and this study says parents are miserable.
Researchers at the University of Western Ontario and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research wanted to figure out why some families decide to stop at having only one child. So they analyzed data from a German survey that covered more than 20,000 people across the country, and tracked their reported well-being from three years before having kids to at least two years after their first child was born.
According to the Washington Post, 30 percent of parents stayed at the same level of happiness. But on a 1 to 10 scale, 37 percent of parents had a one-unit drop in “happiness units,” while 19 percent had a two-unit drop and 17 percent had a three-unit drop.
To compare that to actual sad life events: Unemployment and the death of a partner usually lead to a one-unit drop in happiness, and divorce only causes a 0.6-unit drop. On average, parenthood leads to a whopping 1.4-unit fall in happiness.
But what does that say about people who only drop one-unit when their partner dies?
What was found in the study, published in the journal Demography, is that unhappiness stemmed from three main causes: health issues before and after birth, complications during the birth, and the generally exhausting and physically taxing task of raising a child.
The researchers also found that parents’ experiences and emotional states when they have their first child strongly impact whether or not they’ll go on to have more kids. If you stay happy more than a year after your first child is born, you’re more likely to have baby number 2. (Which makes sense: Why keep doing something that makes you unhappy?)
Older parents, and those with higher levels of education, were more likely to stop at one child if they had a bad experience.
That leads us to also wonder: why do people have kids in the first place? Is it pressure from families or society? Or are they trying to fill a void within themselves?
As two ladies from the MN team prepare to say “I do,” they share what they’re learning about their relationships, the wedding-planning process, and themselves.
When I first shared the news of my engagement with members of my church choir back in July, one of the members who had just tied the knot a few months prior told me to enjoy the moment. I interpreted her statements as one of those things people just say when you announce that you’re getting married. I didn’t think too deeply about it.
But as I left the church later that afternoon, prepping for the ensemble’s summer break (the entire month of August), she walked up to me and said it again. This time, with a lot more conviction: “Seriously, Victoria, enjoy this moment. Don’t worry about planning or anything like that yet. Just take the time to be happy first.” I said that I would and proceeded to head home, a skip in my step, eyeing the sparkle on my left ring finger.
I didn’t realize it then, but she was so right about taking the time to enjoy the moment. Appreciate the high you find yourself on, because ever since I opened my first bridal magazine and started answering “So, when are you getting married?” questions, I’ve been stressed. Very stressed.
And when I say stressed, I don’t mean the kind of anxiety where you take a deep sigh each time the word “wedding” comes up in a conversation. I’m talking head in my hands, low-key sobbing stressed. I’ve had about three of those episodes since July. They’ve all come about over changes in the things my fiancé said he wanted for the ceremony, some stress-inducing statements from soon-to-be in-laws, and the reminder that you can’t have a wedding without alcohol. And alcohol costs money. I don’t even drink!
The realization of all the things weddings entail has left me exasperated. Did I mention I’ve only been engaged and planning this whole shebang for a little over a month now?
When I shared this anxiety with people, most gave me the “Awww, it’s going to be fine” response. But my mother, well, she’s the type to give it to you straight.
“I don’t know now. If you’re finding yourself crying about wedding planning this soon, you might be going about this whole thing wrong.”
And that’s what I’ve been trying to figure out. What am I doing and for whom? What is it that I really want for my wedding day? My opinions change daily. I told my mother early on, even before I was engaged, that when I got married, I would want to keep things small. Inexpensive dress, small guest count, money saved small. But ever since I became Feyoncé Knowles, I’ve been planning a wedding for other people. What I mean by that is I’ve been trying to do things in the hopes of not disappointing folks. I’ve looked into overpriced, grandiose reception halls. I’ve worried about inconveniencing friends and family members who would possibly have to drive 30 minutes from a church to a reception hall. I’ve thought about buying rental shuttles to help people get around. I’ve drastically limited my choices in available venues by assuming that people would say that you can’t have a reception where you wear traditional Nigerian garb but don’t have Nigerian food (halls don’t play when it comes to outside catering). And I’ve been doing this all on a budget of thousands of dollars that I don’t currently have sitting in my bank or savings account, or in my Monopoly board game box for that matter. Now do you see why I’m stressed?
They tell you that wedding planning is stressful, but you don’t realize how tiring it is until you actually have to set things in motion. Even looking for a planner and setting aside the money to pay them is a task in and of itself. So with all that going on, and after multiple cry-it-out sessions, I’ve decided to take a break from the whole process. I’ve realized that until I know for sure what it is I really want for my big day, as well as the final list of things my surprisingly choosy fiancé is hoping for, my planning is useless. I’m going to be doing useless hours of research and finding myself in a crying corner over and over again. So it’s time to start again. From scratch.
With that being said, I’m back to square one. And I’m mentally back to where I was a little over a month ago when my fiancé popped the question on the floor in his living room. I’m doing what I should have truly done then. I’m enjoying the moment. I’m enjoying talking to the love of my life about the fun and silly things we’ve always conversed about, the politics we’ve always debated on. Going out for ice cream cones. Dancing with him and our friends over Jollof rice and Gulder. Laying on the couch watching An Officer and a Gentleman, singing “Up Where We Belong” together off-key. I’m appreciating this peaceful time, and when I have my mind and my money right, as well as more hands-on help in research from my fiancé, wedding planning will reconvene and be in full swing. Before I lose my shit and my relationship, I need to focus more time on continuing to nurture the partnership my fiancé and I have. Because while a wedding is a beautiful and memorable thing, I need to do more planning, research and work to prepare for what comes after.
We spend more than one-third of our days working, so it’s no wonder employees can feeling stressed, burnt out, and exhausted.
Sound familiar? Well, the solution is easy.
Science says, get up and take a work break. Just make sure it’s the right kind of break—the type that leaves you feeling energized and focused. Researchers from Baylor University explain exactly what you should do when you tell your boss you need to “take 10.”
The researchers surveyed 95 employees between the ages of 22 and 67 over the course of a five-day workweek, and asked them to record the breaks they took during the day. These breaks could be formal (like a lunch) or informal (like a coffee run or email catch-up), and essentially covered any activity that was not work-related (not including bathroom breaks).
Each person averaged two breaks per day, and from the 959 breaks recorded, scientists were able to figure out several key factors that make a successful workday break. The findings were published in the Work.
First, the best time to press pause is mid-morning. “When more hours had elapsed since the beginning of the work shift, fewer resources and more symptoms of poor health were reported after a break,” reads the study. The best breaks involved activities that employees enjoyed—the catch is, those tasks could also be somewhat work-related. The only requirement is that you derive pleasure from the task.
Additionally, while you may find a two-hour break enticing, scientists found that short, frequent breaks were most beneficial—although they didn’t pinpoint an exact length of time.
“Unlike your cell phone, which popular wisdom tells us should be depleted to zero percent before you charge it fully to 100 percent, people instead need to charge more frequently throughout the day,” lead author Emily Hunter, Ph.D., said in a statement.
Successful work breaks resulted in better health and higher job satisfaction for employees—“successful” being defined as earlier in the day, and by doing something enjoyable…like taking a break to catch up on MadameNoire.com. Scientists saw those people had fewer symptoms of headache, eyestrain, or lower back pain following the break. There was also a decrease in burnout.
So go ahead and take that quick coffee or tea break. You deserve it, and you’ll work smarter.
People have been saying for some time now to try and get a grip at work. Yeah, someone might test you and catch a professional beat down (side note: If you discover ways to do this without getting arrested or fired, come find me), but this isn’t the kind of stress researchers are focusing on. A new study coming from folks at Stanford University and the Harvard Business School has shocking revelations about workplace stress — including how deadly it can be.
Focusing on a series of common stressors that include schedules and hours, benefits and job demand — along with a cross-examination of other studies (oh yeah, they’re serious) — experts have determined the more stress an employee has, the worse off their health is. Well, um, obviously that’s nothing new for us as we know the perfect mix of stupid and deadlines can result in an ulcer. What’s worth a mention, however, is that most health outcomes are similar to those who suffer from secondhand smoke.
Did I mention death is one of them?
Hold the phones and take a message…what?! You mean to tell me being stressed on the job can lead to a headache and death? Obviously the deadly part isn’t common, but feel free to forward the study to your boss — along with a request to use a few personal days to reflect…with a glass of wine, some really good takeout and a DVR full of shows you need to watch.
All jokes aside, this study reiterates something most of us have known for years: Too much job stress can send you to an early grave, or at the very least, cause a ton of health problems. The fact that those with crazy high work demands are 35 percent more likely to develop a medical condition is some pretty scary stuff. Failure to give workplace stress the proper attention it deserves can not only lead to an imbalanced work-life situation, but also disease and poor mental health.
Hopefully companies and employers will take a look at studies like these findings and reconsider the current practices they have in place. Too many people are skipping out on much needed vacation out of fear of losing their job (this study also points out lack of employment security can increase your chances of poor health by 50 percent), or try their best to work unrealistic deadlines. There comes a point when something has to give, and hopefully for you, it’s not your health.
I know it’s easier said than done, but professionals who are working around the clock might want to rethink their hustle. Yes, there are bills that need to be paid, but running yourself in the ground is proving to be more and more detrimental to your health. The last thing any loved one needs is for you to be shut up in a hospital somewhere (or worse) because of workplace stress. This is one of the reasons I left my freelancing lifestyle for a full-time position (ironically, a freelancing gig I was working turned into a great opportunity that allowed me to stop being a one woman circus). Of course it’s no foolproof way of protecting myself against stress (it’s bound to happen), but luckily, I found a company that does its best to reduce job stress for the sake of productivity.
Remember, there’s only one life you can live and one version of you.
It’s 6:00 a.m. and after I’ve gotten a few hours of sleep, one of my twin toddlers starts stirring. Like a lightening bolt, I get up and scurry to the kitchen to prepare their morning smoothie before they are both fully awake. With one eye open I blend the smoothie, put the tater tots in the toaster oven, and fill two sippy cups with water. Then I feed them, change diapers, brush teeth, get tons of hugs and kisses, comb hair and set up playtime. After about an hour of playtime (in which I play referee because of the constant fighting), I then prepare two sandwiches with snacks. Then we go to a playground or have some kind of outing. After that, it’s naptime and during naptime I start to prepare their dinner and clean up the house. They wake up from their nap, eat, play, give more hugs and kisses, watch cartoons and it’s almost time for bed and time to do it all over again.
Now, lets be clear here, this is not about complaining because I love being a mother and adore my children because I fully commit my mind, body and soul to raising twin toddlers 24/7. But I think it’s safe to say that I deserve a break for an hour or two once a week.
I once had an issue asking for a little help because society has a tendency to make us think that if you’re a mom you are just supposed to have it all together. It’s thought that asking for help or having the mommy blues is a sign of weakness as a mother. Well, now I know that’s not true…this is not an easy job and it’s ok to say it.
Stop Worrying About What Others Think
You and only you know that your break away from your kids is not an attempt to escape to a beach and put your feet up, it’s merely the desire to feel like a human being with your own thoughts for an hour or two. One way to help you feel more comfortable that you are not alone is to find stories online of moms who tell their crazy, funny kid stories. A good laugh once a day will help you lighten up and realize that all moms go through the same things whether they want to admit it or not.
Set A Specific Amount Of Time
Ok, so when people suggest that moms need to set a certain day and time for themselves it’s completely unrealistic because when you have kids, random things come up all the time. All that will do is lead to disappointment when you have to keep canceling your “mommy” time. So instead, set an amount of time–like an hour or half an hour–that you want once a week of pure, uninterrupted time.
Have a conversation with your significant other, mother or maybe even a girlfriend you trust letting them know that you really need a break on a weekly basis and ask if they help you out. If no one is available, then maybe you can have your break when your little one goes on a play date over a friend’s house.
Change Your Perspective
If you allow your outlook to be negative about not having enough time to yourself, it will consume you. Instead of feeling bad, make the best out of the little breaks you do have. If they take a two hour nap, don’t spend the whole time cleaning up around the house. Instead, make their food and then take an hour to yourself to watch a show, read a book or just be still.
Yes I said it, learn how to say no. Your mother just called and needs yarn for her knitting group, the school just called and wants to know if you can head up the bake sale again, and your husband says he can’t watch the kids as promised because it’s ‘guys night’ again. The answer to all of these needs to be ‘no.’ And please don’t feel bad about it. You probably do for these people all the time and say yes most of the year, so it’s ok to listen to your inner self and say no just because it’s too much and your sanity is more important.
It’s 4:37 a.m. on a Saturday morning and you’re sitting on the toilet, trying to pee. It’s your third attempt in 60 minutes and try as you might, nothing’s coming out. Your bladder feels tight like a balloon filled with water, but somehow your body’s not getting the memo because it just won’t release. Jumping jacks, dancing, nothing has worked so far. Panic is setting in. What if I can’t pee? you ask yourself for the gazillonth time.
Two hours later, you’re lying down on a bed in the emergency room at the hospital. “Your bladder is full,” says the doctor, “This is the only way we can help you pee.” He inserts a catheter into your vagina and your body drifts off into euphoria. Finally. By evening you’re home and peeing has resumed to normal.
Five days later, you’re back at the hospital. This time, peeing doesn’t resume and this catheter becomes your constant companion for the next week. Ever go to the park with your kid with a catheter strapped to your leg? You see specialists, but no one can help. Apparently, it’s one of those fluke things that can happen like running into an elephant on the highway. At one point, you decide to find your own answer and it becomes crystal clear. The problem is stress.
Yes, debilitating stress.
Your mom, love her with all your heart, knows stress like she knows her own name. Growing up, there were times when she couldn’t breathe. Times when she, a single mom, was taking care of you and your brother, and going to school full time, walking 45 minutes there and back each day, once in the morning and back again at night. At one point, soars started forming on her scalp, and thick liquid would ooze down her neck. Doctors tried to help, giving her ointments and shampoos, but nothing worked. Finally, it became clear to her too. Stress was eating her alive.
In your case, the answer didn’t come until you did something that should have been done a long time ago, and that was move. Move your body, as in exercise, because the truth is you’d stopped exercising after your second child. The second was move location. You were living in a city that you despised like cockroaches scrambling on a counter when you turn on the light. Everyday was a constant reminder of how much you hated your life. It’s no wonder your body turned on you. How could it function under such circumstances? Once you moved to a city you liked peeing became as natural as water flowing down a stream. Does water ever have an issue flowing down a stream? For your mom, relief came when she decided to settle down, and that meant literally reminding herself to breathe.
So knowing that stress can be ruthless in its ability to cripple us, what are some things we can do to combat it?
You pose the question to Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Isaiah B. Pickens, and he says that first it’s important to notice signs that indicate that we are becoming stressed. “If activities and people that you used to enjoy irritate or anger you, this is a sign of both stress and possibly depression. Constantly feeling a cloud over your head (or in your head) that makes you say more often than not, “I don’t feel like myself,” is usually a sign that stress is becoming overwhelming.” He further adds that the stigma around mental health issues and the push to create super-moms can make many reluctant to admit these difficulties.
When it comes to doing something about it, he advises practicing daily check-ins. “Sometimes our days can move so quickly taking care of children and dealing with our work/home related duties, that we forget to do an inventory for what is stressing us out and how much it is stressing us out. Taking a moment in the morning to meditate or pray, journaling in the evening, or simply having quiets breaks during the day can go a long way to increase our awareness of stressors.”
It’s true because another factor that helped kick your stalled bladder in motion was that you started writing again. Before that, five years went by and you could barely write your name. Perhaps stress is just another name for mess; the messier, the stressier. But somehow knowing that you were able to pull yourself out of it gives you hope. Especially, even now when it starts creeping up on you masked as access weight or even pimples that make you look like you’re going through puberty all over again. At the end of the day, there’s always hope.
Even the most organized person can stumble in the face of adversity. We all go through life struggles, regardless of how much we make and the success we’ve seen. Sure the magnitude can vary from person to person, but as Martin Lawrence once said, “no one is immune to the trials and tribulations of life.”
Now run and tell that.
While there will be situations when you can’t do anything but endure, when it comes to a financial crisis hopefully you have the opportunity to plan ahead, which can save you more than a sleepless night or two.
Here are some things to consider.
Listen to your intuition. One reason people find themselves in a crisis is because they didn’t heed the warning signs. No matter how much you try to put things off it’s important to listen to the inner voice that tells you take action sooner rather than later. Tidy up your resume and actively begin searching for a new job when you feel your current position is in jeopardy. Don’t put off ’til tomorrow what you need to do today.
Operate in reality. Having faith and keeping hope alive is great, but that doesn’t mean you just throw everything to the wind and do nothing. Deal with the reality of your situation by crossing your fingers for the best but actively preparing for the worst.
Make your budget for the worst case scenario. If you know a financial slump is inevitable, rework your budget so it reflects the worst case scenario. Losing money really hurts, but if you’re able to figure out areas you can cut back to cover essentials, it can make life more manageable. Be honest about what you consider a must-have and things you can bear to part ways with for the time being. Tip: Should you acquire additional or unexpected money, save it.
Put what you can into an emergency savings. Get into the habit of funding your emergency savings. If you don’t have one, put away what you can to help when you’re in the midst of your crisis. Yes, it would’ve been great if you had a healthy amount in your account prior to your pending situation, but for now you need to focus on doing what you can with what you have.
Take care of you while you can. Not having health insurance can suck. Those who have an inkling they’ll be out of work in the near future should consider taking advantage of coverage while they still have it. Visit the doctor. Get your teeth cleaned. Do what you can while you still have access to company resources.
Keep an eye on your debt. Now is the time to speak with companies you owe about options available for people experiencing hardships. The last thing you want to do is wait until you’re in the heat of things to reach out. Look to get your due date and minimum payment reduced, which can make staying on top of your responsibilities easier. Note: You should still try to pay more than the minimum amount due.
Downsize. There’s nothing wrong with selling or trading in some of the things you own — especially if you can get a good deal for them. Whether you trade in your car, host a garage sale, or say no to luxury memberships, downsizing can only work in your favor. Once the money starts to come in, use it to pay future debts and cushion your emergency savings.
Liquidate. If you own any CDs, have cash in a money market account, or any other access to funds — outside of long-term investments like a 401K — the time might come to liquidate.
Find ways to be independent. Now might be the time to try and turn your hobby into a hustle. So long as there’s no significant start-up costs, feel encouraged to offer your services or make a few goods in order to bring in additional income. There’s nothing wrong with the desire to not rely on one stream of money.
Look for lifelines. If you need help, speak up. Reach out to loved ones if you feel things are too much for you to handle. More millennials are moving back in with their parents, which no longer makes it a taboo. Regardless, there’s nothing wrong with saving money and using it to get back on your feet.
Want better sex and better coffee? Try changing the time you have both. Reschedule to the best time for everything and your entire life could change.
What did I get myself into?
Sometimes I ask myself this question as I have a 16 month old son and a baby on the way. My husband and I planned to have our children closer together in age, but this will definitely make for a very interesting household — to say the least.
On one hand, I’m kinda thankful our second child is another boy. Given we already have one, it will make things a heck of a lot easier in the sharing and supplies department. Our little guy shot up in height and wasn’t able to wear many of the things I purchased for him. At least this way they’ll get some use, along with other baby-related items we never got around to donating.
Now that we got the pleasantries out the way, let’s get a little real. Raising both a toddler and newborn is going to be very difficult. This is a reality I’ve come to grips with over the course of my pregnancy — and as much as I’ll try my best to plan for two little ones in diapers, there are certain things I just have to take in stride.
Luckily I know of a few other mothers who’ve had children very close in age. While they do warn me of stressful times ahead, in the end, they say it’s all worth it.
“If you can make it through the first few years everything else will fall into place,” notes one of my gym buddies. “They end up taking care of each other.”
Well this is a little refreshing to hear.
The biggest shock to the system is obviously going to be the whole sleep thing. Luckily our toddler has been able to sleep through the night since he was four months or so, but we get to push the reset button with our infant. Any parent of a toddler can attest to how much energy — and rest — you need to keep up with them, especially when they hit the wonderful stage of exploring, not listening to “no” the first time and talking back. Needless to say, it’s going to be a wee bit difficult to do so when we look and feel like extras from The Walking Dead.
I can’t begin to imagine how parents with multiple children balance their time and attention between each. Obviously my newborn is going to need additional eyes and assistance given he won’t be able to communicate for some time. Yet in the same breath, I don’t want to not give my toddler the one-on-one time he deserves.
Another thing I’m not looking forward to is the amount of diapers we’ll need. Sure my oldest will hopefully potty train with time, but purchasing diapers each month definitely adds to your budget. Thus far I’ve been pretty savvy with buying in bulk online and getting a nice deal. I’ll just have to come to terms with the fact that I need to do it a second time for baby number two. The same goes for their 529 college savings plan.
So little to no nights with rest, two babies vying for your attention and little to no social life. Got it.
All jokes aside, I think it will be fun for them to grow up together. Sure the first year or so of raising a toddler and newborn will be challenging (one will go through the baby motions while the other enters the terrible twos), but it’s nothing too impossible.
I’ll rely on a ton of prayer…and a few glasses of wine.