It’s an all too familiar situation: as soon as we become parents our lives completely change and suddenly we start to have too much on our plates. While our main goal is to ensure that our little ones grow up to become healthy, happy and successful individuals, we’re still trying to juggle our own lives, and that means deadlines will always be looming, people will be counting on you, and to top it all off, you’ve still got to ensure we keep a fully functional house – stocked fridge included. It can become extremely overwhelming quickly.
While it’s more or less impossible to not experience frequent bouts of intense stress, here are 6 scientifically proven ways to help you manage it better.
1. Have self-compassion
First things first, self-compassion is the most important strategy for dealing with stress. Cut yourself some slack, because you’re doing a great job, Mumma! It’s time that you recognise that trying to balance all of the things you do on a daily basis takes a considerable amount of time, effort, energy and patience, and the sheer fact that you’ve gotten this far in managing two or more lives simultaneously in an achievement in itself.
Studies show that people who are self-compassionate are happier, more optimistic, and most importantly, far less anxious and depressed than those who put themselves under the microscope. A dose of self-compassion when things are difficult can reduce your stress and improve your performance.
With all these positive gains it’s hardly surprising that these individuals are much more successful too than their counterparts. So by forgiving yourself for your mistakes, procrastination or for not completing tasks that you simply didn’t have time for, you’re more likely to overcome your current period of stress paralysis and kick-start your productivity to start to take action and get back on track.According to experts, the best way to overcome the niggling negativity is simply by
According to experts, the best way to overcome the niggling negativity is simply by doubting your doubts. For example, try shaking your head while thinking those negative thoughts. Though it sounds ridiculous, it can help silence the pessimism and your internal haters to help reduce that state of stress. Don’t be a defeatist.
2. Push yourself to just start
One of the hardest obstacles to tackle when it comes to stress is the amount of time we spend obsessing over the growing length of a task list and our inability to get things done. That focus on uncompleted tasks will stick in our minds over and over until it’s completed, so trying to escape it by taking a nap won’t make you feel any better. Bed Head = Stress Head.
The psychological phenomenon known as the Zeigarnik Effect explains that the recall value of an unfinished task is much higher than a completed task, meaning that we remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks much better than the things that we’ve completed. This is because an unfinished task is more likely to get stuck in our minds and pester us all day until it’s been completed, and for as long as we don’t finish, there’s mental tension that keeps that incomplete action more prominent in our minds.
Completion of the activity provides us with closure, a release of tension, and slowly we forget about it and move on to the next item on the to-do list, relieving our stress.
So the best way to stop dilly-dallying around and beat procrastination? Simply start working. Once you’ve started, your brain will stop nagging you so much and allow you to focus and get sucked in.
3. Power Hour
Research shows that doing 60-minute sessions of productive work followed by breaks of 20 minutes are optimal for increasing your focus and energy throughout the day. The short intervals for rest help to harness the highest performance of your brain, reset your mind to concentrate for longer, and help you check off more items from that dreaded task list.
Known as the Pomodoro Technique, this time management method breaks down work into manageable intervals, separated by short spates of breaks. It’s a tried and tested technique to help you power through distractions, hyper-focus your attention, get things done in short bursts, beat procrastination and most of all, alleviate stress.
This is because our minds naturally go through cycles with peaks and troughs of concentration, so to maximise the output it’s vital to hone the power of the peaks and work in concentrated chunks of time, balancing it with bouts of rest and relaxation.
When you are stressed it is easy to assume that you have too much on your plate to make time for some exercise – even if it’s a brisk walk – and while it might seem counter-productive when you’re already short on time, research shows by partaking in any regular exercise will help to decrease your levels of anxiety and stress.
According to the Mayo Clinic report, walking or any regular exercise can reduce your stress in a number of ways. For one, it makes you feel better by pumping up your endorphins to lower the symptoms of mild depression and anxiety, but in addition, it can raise your confidence and ability to handle problems to give you a feeling of control over your own body, to create a calming and meditative mindset.
5. Create a soothing space
Research from the American Holistic Medical Association indicates that warm colours like red and orange can excite and stimulate you while cooler tones such as blue or grey can help to calm and relax your mind.
This growing trend of holistic medication is known as Colour Therapy and is a non-invasive technique to help ease stress. The theory behind it is that when colours enter our eyes, a message is sent along the nerve pathways to the area of the brain that regulates emotion. So by adjusting our visual stimuli, we can begin to manage our feelings and control our output.
Research from the Journal of Neuroscience confirms that clutter is distracting and can actually affect your ability to focus. By having to look at too many things at once, you’re overloading your visual cortex and interfering with your brain’s ability to process information.
De-cluttering your desk will pay off at work but better organisation, in general, will allow you to be more productive and efficient.
Furthermore, in a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, women who describe their homes as cluttered are more depressed, fight more fatigue, and have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than women who feel their homes are organised.
When you come home to piles of papers everywhere it may prevent the natural decline in cortisol that occurs over the course of the day and this, in turn, can take a toll on your mood, sleep, health, and more. So taking the time to sort through stacks of papers and spruce up your space won’t just clear away the physical stuff, it’ll actually help you feel happier and more relaxed.
The best way to get organised is by simply having all of your important documents in one place that you can access instantly from anywhere. The Memory App is one such solution, giving you instant recall of everything from everywhere, straight from your mobile phone.
Say goodbye to forgetting where you filed things and de-clutter all the clunk in your life by having instant access to all your passwords, pin numbers, warranties, business documents, insurance policies, membership details, birth certificate, licences, important dates and everything else all stored neatly in the palm of your hands.