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Therapists' tips for the stressed-out mom

Therapist Emily Grace Ames, LPC, NCC

Therapist Emily Grace Ames, LPC, NCC

Whether you are a stay-at-home mom or work full-time, a single mom or partner, parenting always comes with stress. It can be the most rewarding yet most draining job of your life. When you’re looking out for others’ wellbeing, it’s easy to forget about your own.

“As a mom we are constantly worried about our kids to the point that it can become overwhelming,” said Emily Grace Ames, LPC, NCC, therapist at Right Track Medical Group. “We can worry about everything from the food they are eating to whether or not they are hanging out with the right crowd.”

Ames said it is common for mothers to experience a normal level of anxiety. A problem arises, however, when a mom begins to feel her anxiety is unbearable. Ames said establishing boundaries for self-care is an important step in keeping the stress down.

“While there are no one-size-fits-all strategies for overcoming stress, there are some things moms can do to combat the daily stress of life,” she said.

4 Steps to Dealing with Stress in Motherhood

1. Take an inventory

Set aside time to reflect on how you are doing in each key area of your life: physically, emotionally, socially, financially, spiritually and in your work or studies. Note the positive and negative aspects you can identify in each area.

2. Identify your triggers

Being able to pinpoint common triggers for your stress can help you develop healthy coping strategies for those situations. Some common examples:

  • Are you spending hours on Facebook or Instagram comparing yourself and your family to everyone else’s images of a “perfect” family life?

  • Are you trying to do too much? Are too-tight schedules or poor time management contributing to your stress?

  • Are you more likely to get stressed when you are tired or hungry?

  • Are you watching too many television programs with stress-inducing themes like missing children, murders, etc.?

  • Do you have unrealistic expectations for yourself and your home during this season of life?

3. Dig into the roots

What’s at the root of your stress and anxiety? Understanding what's really causing your stress and anxiety is important for overcoming it. Some common underlying challenges include:

  • Fear about not being in control

  • Unhealthy boundaries, including not being able to recognize what is in your control and what is not

  • A need for safety and belonging

  • A need for certainty

  • Perfectionism, and being unable to cope when unrealistic expectations are not met

  • Lack of coping skills

  • Unresolved grief or trauma

4. Make a strategy for self care

Advocate for yourself to maintain healthy boundaries and self care. Some steps you might consider:

  • Limit your time on social media

  • Take a quick walk to get outside and get refreshed

  • Schedule a playdate, or get together with other moms without the kids

  • Limit the number of activities your kids are involved in

  • Adjust your expectations for this season of life

  • Do something for yourself that makes you happy

  • Incorporate times of mindfulness, reflection, prayer, etc.

  • Hire a babysitter for a night out with your spouse or simply to have time to yourself

  • Tell a supportive friend or family member that you’re struggling. Most likely they’ve experienced this, too. You are not alone. Seek out counseling or other support groups.

If you feel like you’re unable to handle the stress, and you’ve tried everything, then maybe it’s time to seek some extra support. Many people come to counseling for help getting through a particularly challenging season or to tackle some issues that have been building up over time.

Through the counseling process, you can gain a different perspective about the struggle you’re experiencing, get feedback from a licensed professional and have someone who is dedicated to support you and help you through your journey.

Do I need therapy to overcome stress?

Working with a therapist can be an effective way to gain skills, support and accountability for dealing with your stress. Right Track Medical Group provides outpatient mental-health services including therapy and medication management. To schedule an appointment, call the location nearest you.

When I try to control what I cannot, I lose control of the one thing I can — myself.
— Shannon Popkin, author of Control Girl
Lucy Schultze