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We’ve all been there, burned out, stressed out, and completely spread thin. I feel like moms experience this frequently due to the endless duties, responsibilities, and oftentimes lack of appreciation that comes along with being a mother. My question is, why do we wait until we are on the brink of a nervous breakdown before we realize this?
Wouldn’t it be easier if we switched our method of handling and coping with this stress to prevention mode rather than crisis mode?
There have been so many times where I have experienced this and I noticed a common theme almost every time, when I would feel this way- on the verge of a bout of depression, it was because I was not doing absolutely anything for myself as a person, not myself as mommy or wife, but for me as Sam. It is so easy and almost automatic that when we become mothers, that we begin to lose our individuality. It’s as if individuality becomes a taboo subject once you have children.
Once I noticed this pattern of behavior in myself, I began to take preventative measures to keep depressive episodes at bay. Lets face it, being a mom comes with a whole lot of stress, mess, chaos, ass wiping, and breaking up fights. It also comes with raw love, life lessons, pure joy, and happiness. The trick is to not let the tough times bring you down and prevent you from enjoying the good times.
What preventative measures did I begin to take once I noticed my cup was about to ‘runneth over’? I started to take care of my mental health more and that is where hobbies come in for me. Some hobbies of mine are Crossfit, snowboarding, wake boarding, educating myself, meditating, and being in nature. Since I live in San Diego and no longer have a wakeboard boat or mountains to snowboard at on a whim, I really got into Crossfit- not to mention I was new to the area and it was a great way to meet friends.
Hobbies should be something that brings you joy but that is also somewhat challenging. Whether you’re into painting, horseback riding, singing opera, or whatever it is that brings you happiness, you really need to carve time out for it. When it comes to Crossfit, I find it extremely challenging because I have always been a really scrawny person, no real muscle definition and pretty weak to say the least. It has taken several years of determination to put on some muscle mass and finally be at a place where I am happy with my body, but the real secret is that the physical benefits are only secondary when it comes to why I do it. I think the mental challenge is far more rewarding than any physical challenge. Once you start getting heavy weight on the bar, it is very intimidating and when you combine that with a small audience of people cheering you on, it is outright ominous. Don’t get the wrong impression either, I am totally your typical ‘average Crossfitter’, my PR (personal record) on the snatch is a measly 98lbs, but hey– it is MY PR! Remember my post about not comparing?– it can be difficult to do when other moms at the gym are snatching 140lbs, but I am genuinely happy for them and don’t spend my mental energy comparing myself to others. Yes I would love to get to a place where I can do muscle-ups and snatch my body weight, however, I enjoy the humbling journey in the meantime as it always keeps me hungry to improve myself.
In addition to having some form of hobby, I think it is super important to have both yearly and monthly goals. My 2017 goal was to get a muscle up by the year’s end- did that happen? Nope. Why you ask? Well, life happens and one thing I learned to do is to roll with life and not beat myself up when I don’t reach my goals. I am also borderline obsessive about keeping a planner and a notebook. The planner is my organizational tool and while my notebook is full of my random thoughts and my to-do lists. I also think it is very important to have a monthly budget to keep finances in perspective. I use the free template in Microsoft Excel and it allows me to see in a pie chart where all of our money goes and keeps our monthly budget in check. I also love to prepare for things ahead. Example, since getting my kids out the door in the morning is a complete shit-show, I prepare for said shit-show by doing everything I can do the night before to prepare for the next day. This saves me time and stress each morning so I am not frazzled by 7:00 a.m. out the gate and we’ve all been there! It is not fun to be frazzled first thing in the morning.
These tips help me stay organized and keep me on track in terms of my to-do list and goals. Goals are great things to aim for and to help you stay focused and prioritized, however, life does happen- especially to us moms! The important thing to remember is that if plan A doesn’t work out, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet– this is a cheesy quote that I literally live by. I never get beat down when things don’t go as planned, I simply figure out plan B and keep it moving.
Being resilient and optimistic when things don’t go as planned spares me mountains of panic, worry, anxiety, and stress. I am actually a pretty ‘uptight’ person as my husband would say and being able to proactively ‘go with the flow’ has dramatically decreased my anxiety and stress levels which in turn, makes me a better mom!
What are your hobbies and goals? Are there areas in your life that you can learn to be more resilient in and go with the flow? These are questions you can answer right now that can help you figure out where you can improve on. Whether it is planning ahead, making weekly lists, laying out a budget, setting goals, or finding time to do a hobby that you enjoy- these are all things that (in my opinion) can really improve your mental state and make life a little less stressful.
So if you are waiting for a sign to get back into whatever your ‘thing’ is that makes you really, really happy, this is your SIGN! It is critical for mental health maintenance to take time out for yourself by having at least one hobby and setting goals! Get out there and slay it Momma!