Feeling stressed out and like your life is unmanageable?

I get it! As a mom of 3, some days life feels challenging, stressful, and pretty much stinks.

The Solution?…Reframe your situation to look at a situation with open-ended opportunity or possibilities rather than roadblocks that leave you feeling like a helpless victim. The awesome result?…Decreased stress, creative problem solving, and successful resolutions. Isn’t that a lot more appealing than defeat and frustration?

Try the following 4 steps to reframe your next stress-loaded day:

1) LAUGH! When you grab a good friend and laugh (see image below), it releases happy hormones and puts life into perspective. Think about the last time you spent with a good friend, sipping latte, catching up, or just being silly and laughing. For most, that’s total pleasure as the world melts away and stress takes a backseat. Our bodies cannot be in a state of stress and pleasure all at the same time, since they engage two different divisions in the autonomic nervous system. By spending time laughing, relaxing, and having fun with a friend or spouse, you automatically force your body into the “rest and digest nervous system that will automatically slow your heart rate and relax organs required for digestion and calm. This step alone allows you to move through the next steps….And, “yes,” you might have to fake it on this one…Even a fake smile or laugh moves your body and brain in the right direction!

2) Identify the EXACT stressor and your level of stress (0-10). Females think in patterns that are “all or nothing,” and small stressors build to one big storm. With today’s fast-paced society and instant demands, stress grows quickly and easily. On average, Mom’s work the equivalent of 2.5 full time jobs and have an average of only 17 minutes to spend on herself daily. That’ speaks volumes for the acute, short-term stress, which most Moms manage…Bills to pay, laundry to fold, emails to answer, PTO meetings to attend, work, kids’ homework, and serving as the professional taxi driver too. It’s enough to make anyone chronically stressed out! Recognizing stress is the first step to managing overwhelming emotions. 

Identifying the root of your stress and then catching it at a level 5 (before its insurmountable), is a powerful combination to finding solutions and to preventing your health from suffering significantly. By identifying the exact cause and level of stress, this allows you to intervene early on with strategies such as exercise, better eating habits, getting more sleep, deep belly breathing, meditation, counseling, or the like. 

3) Resist false or unhelpful thought patterns that sabotage solutions by asking “WHAT IF…” Our brains generate cyclical, negative messages that prevent finding solutions. When you ask “what if…..(I asked my boss for time off)…” it allows your brain to break free and think creatively for solutions. Our brains are experts at finding roadblocks, so sometimes it takes a deliberate and conscious effort to change your thought pattern to finding unique solutions rather than to stick with the “old way” 

4) Get into action! Once you’ve identified unique solutions, action kills fear, inhibitions, and the feelings of being “stuck!” What’s more, when you move from a pile of helpless stress and into action mode, you start to focus on the things you can change, giving you a feeling of control to be more effective with stress management. 

Stress comprises our perception of daily demands and our capacity to handle it all successfully. Reframing allows you to have better perspective and more tools for handling problematic situations. Next time stress takes over, try reframing the situation and please share your thoughts on what worked best for you!