If you have ever tried to console a fussy toddler while working through a thread of unread texts from the ballet carpool, you know how stressful the days can be – and that’s just over morning coffee. Filling the role of Mom or Dad is one of the most rewarding and challenging things many people do, so it is only natural to encounter some stress along the journey. Because stress is bad for physical and mental health, it is important to identify healthy outlets for managing it. Here to share a firsthand account of how she juggles the stress of being a full-time physician and mom is Natalie P. Hagman, MD, of Olathe Health Family Medicine – Louisburg.
1.Take stock of your (stress) pantry.
If you have ever mentally checked your pantry or cupboard for dinner ingredients on the commute home from work, this is the same principle. When you start to get that tight feeling in your chest, stop your current train of thought and check your stress pantry. What is stressing you out? Next, prioritize your immediate needs. Now compare the two. What is more important: your family eating dinner or dealing with that pile of unfolded laundry? With this in mind, reframe your thinking and focus only on the most important task.
2. Clear your mind.
Sometimes we walk into the stress pantry and get stuck. In these instances, it is time to call for backup. When in doubt, a quick walk around the block or 10 minutes of some relaxing music usually does the trick. You don’t always need a whole workout or hour-long podcast to get you out of your funk.
3. Take Five.
You checked your pantry, cleared your mind and that long list of to-do’s is still irking you. Ask yourself if there is something on that list you can knock out in five minutes or less. If there is, do it. Whether it is taking out trash or starting a load or dishes, sometimes the best relief comes from getting something done.
4. Include your family.
Do your kids want to get out more toys or switch activities? Have them help clean up a room first. Are you worried about getting dinner on the table AND entertaining your kids? Have them set the table, unload the dishes or help with some meal prep. When you are stressed in the moment, every bit of help makes a difference.
5. Check in with your electronics.
Is someone else’s social media making you feel less than? Are you aimlessly scrolling and still not getting anything done? Feeling overwhelmed by your email inbox or text thread? Take a digital detox for an hour or even just 10 minutes. When you have a lot going on, it’s important to be cognizant of your time, and use your digital tools for good (to play a relaxing game of solitaire or listen to a chapter of your audiobook).
Get Extra Support
Making daily changes and still struggling? Your primary care provider is a great resource for exploring additional stress management tools. From medication to therapy, your provider can help you make informed decisions. To connect with a primary care provider, visit olathehealth.org.