Motherhood is most definitely a time of life when women experience an onslaught of stress. The reality is —life happens. Healthy coping skills for moms are needed to sustain the high performance needed in motherhood. People get married and they get divorced. We have kids and wonderful, beautiful things happen to those kids, everyday. We have fun, playful pets and stuff happens to them too. Jobs and money come and go. We may even have to grieve the death of a loved one unexpectedly. Lots of the things that happen in life are completely out of our control. With each life change new stresses and problems surface. Even the happiest events in life, like getting a promotion or celebrating a favorite holiday, creates stress and problems. Personal and interpersonal problems that stem from the everyday stress of life can feel suffocating if there are no positive coping skills established. Coping skills are conscious, purposeful strategies that people use when they experience stress to manage difficult emotions. There are both positive and negative coping mechanisms. Unfortunately there are seasons in our lives when we experience stresses and trauma that exceed our coping abilities.
A woman who struggles with anxiety and could easily be thrust back into the tornado of anxiousness when she enters motherhood. For moms (and all parents really) the cycle of needs feels never ending: the kids are hungry, no milk in the fridge, dirty dishes in the sink, mountains of laundry, too many toys, toys not put away, someone needs a snuggle, dirt on the walls, messy hair, books to return to the library, who gets to use the iPad next fight, soccer practice to get to, kid crying, other kid laughing, crumbs (so, so many crumbs) all over the kitchen, dirty toilets, unfinished workbook pages, dried out markers, shoes that are slightly too small. The cycle doesn’t really end, but it does change.
Being a mom is not the type of job you can clock out of at shift change. No matter how overwhelmed we feel we still have to get through the day. That’s why learning how to cope with the oh so beautiful and never ending stress that we experience in motherhood is an absolute need mother’s can’t deny themselves. Coping skills a mom might have used before having kids may not be the right kind of coping skills during motherhood. Without positive coping strategies for stress, moms can easily get sucked into using negative coping strategies. This post is dedicated to moms who want to learn more about coping with stress from motherhood.
The Basics — What Are Coping Skills?
To cope is to consciously and purposefully resolve personal problems. Coping skills then are specific strategies people use to resolve their problems in order to maintain their emotional well-being. Coping is essentially how we react to situations and events in our lives.
Some coping strategies are positive strategies. They are considered healthy, and most importantly, effective ways to resolve stressful problems. Positive coping skills are often referred to as “adaptive coping mechanisms” in the psychology world.
Before engaging in any coping behavior, you need to understand what you are trying to cope with. Take the first step and name your stress! Awareness is always a first step to growing. If you can label your stress or anxiety when it happens you are accepting that it simply is just part of who you are and it is not a problem that needs to be fixed. For example, you might walk yourself through your upcoming zoo visit.
The weather is cloudy and humid today.
We are going to arrive to the zoo by 10am.
I am anxious that it might thunderstorm while we are at the zoo.
These are facts, none of which are problems.
Examples of Positive Coping Mechanisms
Professional therapy (do your research to find qualified help!)
Join The Mom Coach "on demand"
Share your stresses with friend or close family member
Mom’s group such as a bible study or book club weekly gathering
Routinely participates in physical exertion
Playing a sport
Build relaxation into your daily routine
Listen to music
Breathing technique to calm yourself
Not all coping strategies are equal. Some coping mechanisms create new, unintended, negative consequences. These strategies, referred to as “maladaptive coping mechanisms,” will work; but, they may only work temporarily. Moms know best of all that just because something works doesn't mean that it is the only solution to a problem, or that the problem is actually solved.
Examples of Negative Coping Mechanisms
Reliance on objects or people
Alcohol/Drugs (watch out for dependence on substances)
Over or under eating
Excessive use of internet
Avoidance of stress through isolation
Withdraw from social settings to do solitary activities
Avoid or cancel play dates
Uncharacteristic risk taking/thrill seeking activities
Unsafe sexual behavior
The Best Way to Cope with Mom Stress
Talking about stress in your life with a supportive person is probably the number one way to effectively manage your stress. I know what you're thinking. You’re thinking that no one should have to bear the burden of your stress in their life. You’re thinking that you should be able to manage all of your stress by yourself. Everyone else can, so why can’t you. I know that’s what you’re thinking because guess what? You’re not the only one who thinks reaching out for support is a burden to other people. So many moms out there feel the same way you feel and if we could all just be more open and honest about it then it would not feel so uncomfortable. I know a mom who has a Monday morning prayer group that meets over the phone. The meeting is a chance to share, but also a chance to listen. Ultimately the sacrifice of waking up early on a Monday morning for a phone meeting is well worth the supportive network she is forming. She benefits from their perspective and from their empathy. It doesn’t have to be a formal group like she has, but even just a single supportive friend, next door neighbor, workout partner, sister, or your own mother can be your support network. Let other people into your world. I think you would be surprised at how understanding and supportive people can be especially when we are able to share some of our vulnerabilities with them.
Be sure you are evaluating your coping mechanisms honestly. If you realize you may not be coping in the most positive manner, try and mitigate the behavior. That is why having a support network outside of yourself is very important. Having someone in your life who can be honest with you and you can lean on for guidance is important when attempting to shed yourself of negative behaviors. This is a great time to really find out who in your life is a real and true friend versus being a “yes person.” Yes people do not contribute anything positive to your life in times of need, they merely just tell you what you want to hear. No one can grow that way. Honesty always hurts more, but the people in your life who can tell you the truth and who can receive honest constructive criticism in return are the people that can guide you through hardships. Through their support you build resiliency. True friends also support you while you do the work that needs to be done. They do not swoop in and vanquish your troubles in 30 seconds while you sit back and relax. True friends encourage you to face your stress and fears and they guide you through them one step at a time. Then and only then do you come out on the other side a stronger, more resilient person, who is also more capable of returning the favor someday.
Come join The Mom Coach "on demand", we go deep, not wide. We offer a FREE TRAIL for a limited time to celebrate our NEW RELEASE. We are more than a program as we will have month wellness challenges to keep your life in balance. Life is a continuous journey, as you will need to continue self-grow from season to season in motherhood.
About the Author
Kelly Hater, owner of Mama Bear Domain, has over 15 years of coaching experience along with a B.S. in Health Promotion specialized in Exercise Science.
She specializes in helping clients overcome mom burnout, providing a clear, decisive plan that leads her clients on a path of success. Her clients no longer let mom guilt steal their identity and goals. Moms deserve to be happy and live a fulfilling life. She personally has overcome overwhelming struggles herself. Get the accountability needed to take action. As a mom of two she gets it. Join NOW "The Mom Coach - On Demand" for the proven program to "stop existing, start living."
You can work one on one with Kelly!!! What are you waiting for?