Stress can be a friend and an enemy. It gives you the adrenaline to make a DIY costume for a school play at the last minute. But, as all moms know, it can also send you over the edge. Once it starts to feel like talking to your child is on "yell mode" most of the time, it's time to take a step back.
"We need to de-stress even from family and relationships. Many people look only at work, finances, and home duties as the common source of pressure. But it is possible to get weary and tied up with our relationships more than we know," writes guidance counselor and psychologist Michele S. Alignay in her book Family Goals: Embracing The Imperfections of Family Life.
When you consistently pour affection into your loved ones without leaving some for yourself, you will be surprised how easy it can turn to relationship stress. Balance is critical -- moms need to understand that love for self is not vanity or selfishness.
Alignay stressed, "We need to take a closer look at our relationships patterns and see how it affects our person." It starts by being aware of our stress levels before we burn out. In her book, Alignay shares some questions to ask yourself.
Do you take more or do you give more?
When do you rely on yourself or on others to fulfill your needs?
Do you know how to receive or accept support?
Have you defined your relationship boundaries well?
Do you give to others to earn love?
It's not alway easy. Sometimes we only take me-time when we reach a breaking point. Stress and resilience expert Pauls Davis-Laack lists three clear signs of burnout:
feeling overly frustrated or even resentful
exhaustion to the point of withdrawal or emotional detachment
feeling ineffective like everything you do is just not good enough.
When you've reached that point, you need to take stock and evaluate what you can do to get better. Share your ordeals with someone -- your partner, a close friend, mentor, or counselor -- to help sort your thoughts and feelings. They may also give you a different perspective, one that you have not thought out yet. Alignay emphasizes to stay in the process of making each day better, looking for ways to feel good. Map out your feelings by writing them down. Even the process of just saying them out loud (and then do a deep inhale and exhale after) can offer relief, at least enough for you to tell yourself, "I am tired. What can I do not to feel this exhaustion?"
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Getting back on track is a process, and it's important to stick to the process, Alignay said. Work on yourself first and then with your partner, so you are both on the same page, and he has an idea of your emotions. Family, after all, is not just about you. Remember that you can only help your family when you are in top-top shape physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Get more insights and advice on how to make family life better with Family Goals: Embracing The Imperfections of Family Life by Michele S. Alignay, available online via Kerygma Books (P256) and on National Book Store (P320).