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Symptoms of Being An Overly Stressed Mum & How To Make A Shift

When things in Life go pear-shaped, how do you usually handle it? I think its fair to say as mums, we've all drowned our sorrows in a tub of ice cream, greasy burger or pizza at least once to twice. But if this is your go to response to Life's hard knocks, its time to stop eating your feelings and start using self care to combat stress.

Symptoms of Being An Overly Stressed Mum & How to Improve Make A Shift
Symptoms of Being An Overly Stressed Mum & How to Improve Make A Shift

Whether it’s work, school, personal, or generally feeling overwhelmed -- all of us have experienced stress in our lives, especially as mothers. While some stress is unavoidable and can even be helpful in certain situations, being overly stressed is damaging to your overall wellbeing. Too many people are chronically and overly stressed, which significantly affects both physical and mental health.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of being overly stressed that you should look out for, plus some helpful and nurturing ways to calm, reset and carry on. There are many ways to better manage stress as a mum than to live stuck on overwhelm. Let's get into it...

Too Stressed To Sleep

We all know how frustrating it can be when stress keeps us tossing and turning at night. Even if you feel exhausted, it might still take you ages to fall asleep. If you're a stressed-out mum, just experiencing difficulty falling asleep in general, and if you wake up frequently, it could be a sign of stress taking its toll on your health and sleep rhythms.

Deep Breathing: Breathe Stress Away

When stress overwhelms you at bedtime or overnight, try taking slow, deep breaths. It's a self care technique that can really work wonders. By shifting your focus to your breathing, you distract your mind from all those stressful thoughts and can physically calm the "fight of flight' response. Deep breathing helps you break free from the stress response, allowing you to relax and find serenity before bedtime. Personally, I love to practice a yogi technique called, nadi shodhana pranayama also known as "alternate nostril breathing". You can try it here or watch the video below.


Stress Creates Muscle Tension

Muscle tension is another common symptom of stress. This tension is commonly in the jaw, as many people clench their jaw in their sleep when they’re feeling stressed. However, stress can cause muscle aches and pains anywhere in the body. Stress also increases blood pressure, which is especially dangerous if you are already at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. As a busy mum or caregiver, it's crucial to find ways to release that tension and allow your body to unwind. The above breathing technique is fabulous start but you can also try other physical ways to find inner calm as well.

Relieve Muscle Tension With Simple Exercises

Dedicate a few minutes each day or before bed, to practice gentle stretching exercises as pat of your bedtime and self care routine. Stretching not only helps your muscles relax but also contributes to mental well-being. It releases built-up tension, making you feel more at ease. Remember, it doesn't have to be intense or time-consuming; find stretches that work for you and enjoy the benefits.

To practice this, just breathe deeply through your nose, as you raise your arms slowly above you head. Really fill your lungs and feel your chest and abdomen expand. Hold and let go of the air through you mouth as your return your arms to your sides. Repeat this as many times as you need to feel the shift. You can also gently lean side to side, roll your neck to reduce stress held in the neck and shoulders. I love to do a few deep breaths and shake my hands out like Taylor Shift style and literally shake it off to let go of my built up stress.

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Stress Affects Your Gut Health

If you’re feeling overly stressed, you'll oftentimes notice digestive issues. Stress, especially if chronic, can trigger flare-ups and inflammation in the digestive system. This can include symptoms such as stomach cramping, nausea, constipation, bloating, wind, and overall discomfort. When stress strikes, it's also very common to find yourself reaching for unhealthy comfort foods. These choices will only further wreak havoc on your already strained digestive system.

Mindful Eating For Gut Wellness

Instead of that fatty or heavy carb fix, focus more on mindful eating when you know you are experiencing stress. Choose foods that nourish instead of make things worse. When you sit down to eat, slow it down, savour each bite, and see the food as healing (not self mediating) the body. In times of stress, always purposely reach for foods that deeply nourish the gut, such as fiber-rich fruits like berries, colourful vegetables, whole grains, and probiotic-rich yogurt or kefir. A well-nourished gut can better withstand the impact of stress.

Start Loving Your Body More

A large part of turning things around when it comes to stress and the urge to binge on comfort foods, is self care. When I first started exploring the concept many years ago, I really didn’t know what it meant. I knew how to care for others, but how the heck do it for myself? If I was honest, I was walking stress-storm. There was very little self care and self love until one day someone gave me a nudge...

My personal self love journey eventually began with a book at the age of 14. The title was, “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise L Hay. A family member lent it to me and said, "Here, Em, read this..." Little did I know my life would change forever. Once I started reading, I was soon dripping off every word. So much of it made sense to me and is a large part of why I opened my clinic and what I teach today.

Self care and love for your body is about caring for yourself as you would a loved one or child. If you toddler or primary schooler was having a tantrum o s stressful time, you wouldn't hand them an ice cream or chocolate bar every time and say, "Here eat this and calm the hell down."

Imagine that for a moment; really picture it. What do you think is going to happen? That child is going to very quickly associate food with comfort, a quick fix, and perhaps start to gain unnecessary weight as a result. Handing an emotional child food or another quick fix, will not help them identify or articulate their feelings. It will not help them learn more constructive ways to deal with disappointments, sadness, stress or fear which are a normal part of the ebbs and flow of real Life. Food will not help a child grow emotionally, learn self care or become an emotionally intelligent young man or woman.

So Why Would You Do This To Yourself?

When you begin to love yourself and give yourself the kindness and respect you and your body deserves, it becomes easier to pivot away from the knee-jerk urge for ice cream when you just got fired or dumped. It becomes easier to recognise stressed-out feelings, catch the overwhelm before it snowballs, and just stop and breathe.

How To Derail Stress In Non-food Ways

  • drink a glass of ice cold water; this can be a great starting point especially for anxiety

  • go outside and breathe; close your eyes and just listen to the sounds around you

  • journal your feelings without judgement, just write whatever comes out

  • pinch directly in front of where your earlobe begins; its an acupressure point

  • do 1-2 minutes of burst exercises like jumping jacks, skipping, running on the spot

  • bury your head in a pillow and scream it out; let all your pain out through sound

  • call a trusted friend or message me for support; talk yourself out of a food fix

These ideas might seem super simple -and they are - but they do work if you are willing to give them a go. In most cases, all you need is an alternative way through a little self care in order to manage your stress. I teach this a lot in clinic, and I often have clients write out a personalised list like the above (that has unique meaning to them). I then have them pin it to their fridge, mirror or office space. Some even make it their screensaver. This is can be such a great stress management strategy. Whenever you feel the stress taking over, just look at your self care list for inspiration in the moment to calm the farm and find centre again.

Healthy + happiness,

Emma Lisa xx


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Hello, I'm Emma Lisa