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Stress Busters: Help for When You Feel Overwhelmed

Mom with baby talking on the  phone

Expectant and new moms face a host of stressful situations. From feeling nervous about motherhood to being frazzled and sleep deprived. during those first few months with your baby. To help manage the sometimes seemingly overwhelming job of being a mom, try these simple tips to help you relax every step of the way. The dishes in the sink are piling up, you have a work deadline looming large and your baby didn’t sleep last night. You’re exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed. Take a deep breath, Mom: You’re not alone and help is on the way! Try these expert-approved tips to help you relax in no time.

Strive for Balance

As a new mom, trust that nothing is going to be perfect. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and understand that you’ll need to go easy on yourself as you find balance in your new life.

  • Ask for help.
    This is the simplest and hardest advice for many new moms to follow — and also the most important. Talk to your partner and discuss ways to divide chores. Create a rotating schedule so you both can take turns making dinner, picking up toys and taking out the trash.

  • Stay in the moment.
    “'Be' with your baby, no matter how exhausted you are,” recommends Joy Rains, author of “Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage Your Busy Mind.” “Rather than wishing you were napping, focus on what is happening in the here and now,” Rains says. “Smell your baby's hair, notice the sounds your baby makes. Even when you are exhausted, note how tired you are and realize this time of exhaustion is temporary, at some time your child will, indeed, sleep through the night.”

  • Walk away.
    If baby is crying and won’t stop and you can feel your blood pressure rising, put your child safely in the crib and walk away for a few moments. Don’t be afraid to take a minute or two to stretch, practice deep breathing or quickly call a friend.

  • Talk about it!
    “Not talking can leave a new mother feeling isolated and alone, which only increases stress. Talking about (your) feelings can create a sense of community and provide opportunities for laughter — another stress-buster,” says Nicoletta C. Skoufalos, Ph.D., a New York, New York-based licensed clinical psychologist.

Take care of yourself

“The women I treat tell me they are exhausted & either physically, emotionally or both,&; says Dr. Frances Walfish, Psy.D., a leading child, couple and family psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, California. “Always get plenty of rest, eat well and exercise to fortify yourself with more to give,” she recommends.

These additional tips can help ensure you’re getting what you need:

  • Make time for you.
    Don't forget about you, Mom! Carving out even just 10-15 minutes a day can do wonders for your stress level. Trade a feeding time with your spouse so you can enjoy a soak in the tub. Drop your little one off with a friend and go on a walk. Or, simply close your eyes for a bit while your baby naps.

  • Exercise.
    Look for a Mommy & Me exercise class, take baby outside in a jogger, exercise to a fitness video in your living room, or find a gym with child care. Exercise is key in helping you manage stress.

  • Steal hugs & kisses.
    As funny as it sounds, a simple hug or kiss from your spouse can be an instant stress reliever. Affection can lower cortisol, a stress hormone, and make you feel more relaxed and happy.

  • Practice deep breathing.
    “Take three long and slow deep breaths – in through your nose and out through your mouth – when you are starting to feel overwhelmed,” recommends Dr. Katayune Kaeni, Psy.D., a Claremont, California-based licensed psychologist specializing in maternal mental health. This simple practice helps to reset your body and mind, helping you let go of stress. 

  • Meditate.
    “A daily meditation of just 10 minutes can drastically alter a person's stress levels. That could be a great way to make some time for yourself and bust that stress,” says Skoufalos.

  • Schedule regular date nights.
    “So much revolves around the baby when being a new parent that it is easy to forget about your partner and yourself,” says Dr. Skoufalos. “Let your partner pamper you. Have a romantic dinner. Sometimes such simple things can make a world of a difference,” she adds
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