It’s Monday morning. I’ve completed about 10 tasks on my to-do list, but it feels like just a drop in the bucket. So how do I write about coping with stress when I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job myself? I’m not an expert on stress-management. I’m a mother of two boys, a wife, and a small-business owner, so hopefully some of my experiences are similar to yours.
Most of my self-help knowledge comes from magazines and Oprah. I’ve tried everything to manage stress: take a bath (who has time for that?), light a candle (I have two children who only run and swing their arms so that’s not possible), write in a journal (tried that and felt like I only wrote down negative thoughts), and take a walk (mmm, that sounds nice but then I worry about all the other things I should be doing instead of walking).
After years of trying to figure out how to manage stress, I realize this: There is no magic formula for everyone. What works for your friend might not work for you. Managing stress shouldn’t cause more stress! Instead of focusing on outside sources of stress, I now focus on how to manage myself. The latest research and information on mindfulness is most appealing to me. Be in the moment. Calm your thoughts. Breathe. Breathing is the easy one -- taking a full, deep breath, holding it and then slowly breathing out. It is perhaps the single best “stress management tool” for me. Letting go of thoughts and stress is the hardest part.
I’ve seen how these techniques, particularly breathing, work for my oldest kid. When he is just completely unaware and out of control, I tell him it’s time for a “yoga breath.” That means standing or sitting in one place, and then breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Sometimes it takes 4 or 5 yoga breaths to work, but he gets it. Also, it is a great opportunity to take a breath together.
Here are a few resources I find helpful in exploring mindfulness for myself and my kids: