Editor’s note: Any medical advice presented here is expressly the views of the writer and Red Tricycle cannot verify any claims made. Please consult with your healthcare provider about what works best for you.
I don’t know about you, but when I first became a mom, wine became my first line of defense. When my kid went to sleep, I poured a glass and used it to finally relax after a long day. After awhile though, this led to some serious problems. I developed a dependency on alcohol to relax. I forgot how to do it on my own, naturally. A few months later, it led to pretty serious alcoholism and I had to get sober and get in recovery.
Not everyone has such an extreme story, but I do know that a lot of moms (and parents) have trouble staying relaxed in a natural and sustainable way.
Being a parent is naturally stressful and anxiety producing. There is so much responsibility and seemingly not enough time to really take care of ourselves. Using alcohol, anxiety meds, marijuana and other substances might seem like a good idea to take the edge off and help you balance everything, but ultimately these things just suppress the problem and it leads to even more issues down the road.
So, in my journey of sober parenting, I have had to learn how to actually deal with Mom Stress for reals, in healthy and sustainable ways. Here are some of the tools that have helped me. Whether you decide to parent sober or you love your wine and feel like it’s not a problem for you, having natural ways to deal with your stress and anxiety is still important and makes the whole parenting gig much easier and more do-able.
1. Try natural supplements.
There are a bunch of helpful natural supplements to calm the nervous system that actually work really well. They don’t alter your perception, but they do help your body, mind and energy relax. I have many on hand, some for day, some for night, some for sleep. They can be surprisingly strong and effective. One of my favorites is good ol’ chamomile, which can be taken anytime, day or night. Another go-to herb for me is valerian, which helps a lot with anxiety and really helps me sleep. There are many others out there.
Go to your local health-food store and ask the supplement department! If you have special conditions or are on medication consult your doctor first. But, from my experience, nature has some amazing medicine that can help us stay calm, balanced and relaxed, even when life is crazy stressful.
2. Feel your feelings.
One huge part of dealing with stress naturally is learning how to feel and process emotions. A lot of the stress and anxiety in life and in parenting comes from suppressed or ignored emotions. It is so hard to factor in time to care for yourself sometimes as a mom. Often our own feelings and emotions get pushed to the back burner so we can keep taking care of everyone else. However, when this happens, it can create a backlog of emotions and feelings that can build up and turn into serious anxiety and stress.
One way to prevent this is to learn and use emotional processing tools and practices in your daily life. Journaling, movement or somatic processes, even talking with a friend or trusted confidant can really help. When you get in the practice of consistently feeling and releasing the emotions that arise in daily life, stress and anxiety naturally stay lower.
3. Schedule in self-care—and drop the guilt about it!
I’m talking about self-care that goes way beyond manicures, ladies. This means deep, nourishing experiences with yourself or a supportive community. Think nature hikes, meditation, yin yoga, energy healing sessions, reading a book by the beach, etc. It’s also helpful to schedule in full days or even nights away sometimes, so you can fully unwind without interruption or obligations.
And, learning to let go of the guilt around this is one of the most important parts. Feeling guilty while you are taking care of yourself is actually pretty counter productive. You deserve time to yourself. You deserve rest and relaxation. You deserve time to truly restore yourself and your nervous system, so you can come back to your family filled up and ready to resume your duties.
Don’t wait until you are about to explode to take some time for you. Scheduling in regular alone time or self-care time is a practical and important way to manage your stress and anxiety as a mom and make your care-giving lifestyle more sustainable.
4. Have a creative outlet and schedule time for it.
Express yourself, mama! Let your creative energy flow freely beyond your role as caregiver and child-creator. You have a passionate life-force within you. When you allow it, nurture it and cultivate your creative self-expression, you will feel more vibrant, alive, relaxed and whole. Painting, drawing, dancing, singing, pottery, writing… whatever it is for you, let yourself have it.
And, you know how busy your life is as a mom, so make sure you schedule in regular time for you to express yourself creatively. It might be awkward at first if you haven’t done it for awhile, but creative self-expression is one of the most powerful stress and anxiety reducing activities you can do. It will help you feel more vibrant, alive, connected to yourself and relaxed.
So, what can you commit to on this list? Can you give yourself the time and space to feel your feelings, take time off and create a routine of expressing yourself? If you do, you will experience a life with naturally less stress and anxiety and less need to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs or other substances to relax. And, when you do need a little outside help, remember there are so many natural herbs and supplements that can help manage and reduce stress and anxiety.
You got this, mama!