By Fredrica Syren:
Lately, I’d found myself not sleeping very well and having lots of headaches. When I mentioned this to my doctor, he asked me if I’d been under lots of stress. I chuckled because, let’s face it, I have 3 children and a business; so, yes, I’m constantly under lots of stress. My doctor, who is also an Ayurvedic doctor, encouraged me to take a moment each day to be still and practice some breathing exercises. When I tried this, I realized just how stressed I really had been. I found my breathing shallow and my head spinning: indeed, I was under tremendous stress. The worst part is that I’ve been kind of causing lots of it myself.
During the past year, I have had many things happen to me — lots of fun times but also some less entertaining times. My father suddenly passed away a year ago and, as his only child, I had to deal with not only mourning but also the reality of paperwork, a funeral and family drama that comes with that and taking care of his business. Since then, my family has planned a move across the world (from Sweden to San Diego). With three kids, it was not easy to sell our apartment, arrange for our belongings to be shipped, enroll our kids in new schools, sign up for insurance, and then, well, actually move. So…. with all this, I started to really stress a lot … all day long. It surely does not help that I’m a perfectionist and Type A personality.
Stress in general means that we feel overwhelmed with how much we have to deal with and the pressure to get things done. Some stress, I’m sure, can be good for you and get you going; but for the most part, stress can affect you both mentally and physically, and be bad for you. When we stress, many things happen to us: blood pressure rises, breathing speeds up, the digestive system slows down, the heart rate increases, we get tense, our immune system gets weaker, and sleep is not as solid. I noticed that I was not dealing with my stress very well and was becoming more irritable — not as nice to be around anymore.
When stress becomes too great, it’s time to pause and take care of yourself, which I know is a lot easier said than done. Most of us are not exactly sure how to do that. The first thing I did was look at what I was stressed about to see if any of them were things that I … (1) really should not stress over, (2) could say no to, and (3) could ask someone to help me with. Once I did that, I realized I was stressing about a few things, like an update to my website, that I really could put off for now. So, I asked my husband to help me out with things like preparing school lunches every night and watering the garden. Then, I also learned it was totally ok to say NO!
Another thing I have done is to limit coffee and sugar when I feel stressed because it really does not help and actually can aggravate symptoms of stress. I focus on sleep and make a point of going to sleep earlier to ensure I get the most solid sleep. During the day, I try to go for a short walk because that is a great stress reliever. I also try to take time out to focus on my breathing, even if it’s only for 5 minutes.
Is all my stress gone? No, not all, but at least I now sleep better and feel a bit less overwhelmed. Best of all, I’m a much better mom.