5 Strategies to Combat Stress & Anxiety for Mamas

Are you an expecting, new mom, or veteran mama? Motherhood comes with lots of highs, beautiful moments, lessons, and self-discovery. On the other side of motherhood, is the extreme stress and anxiety caused by a plethora of things from paranoia, muilt (mom guilt), being frustrated or overwhelmed with responsibility, partner conflict, and so much more!

Here are 5 useful strategies mamas can use to fight those stressful and anxious symptoms so you can feel better and more equipped to handle motherhood:

1. Deep breathing exercises

Research shows that utilizing deep breathing techniques can help to reduce stress and increase a state of calm. Our bodies start to mimic REM sleep when we are in rest mode which helps when our bodies are feeling tensed from stress. Try this: Inhale for 4 seconds → Hold for 4 seconds → Exhale through your mouth for 6 seconds. Practice for 3-5 minutes and notice how your body feels.

2. Get active!

When we move our bodies and exercise, we are releasing endorphins (feel good hormones) and lessening the adrenaline and cortisol (stress/anxiety hormones) so we end up feeling better. Try this: Take a 5 minute walk with your baby, practice yoga with your children, stretch for 15 minutes, or try to get some mama time and hit your favorite workout class while someone watches the kids. Try anything active at least 10 minutes a day and see how your mood improves.

3. Meditate, meditate, meditate

This is easier said than done, am I right mama? The beauty of meditation is being present. You can do it right when you wake up, throughout the day, or at the very end of your day before bed. Meditation has shown to decrease anxiety, depression, and achieve mental clarity. You may find it difficult to get your meditation practice on when you have a crying baby or screaming kids, but it is possible! Take 5 minutes out of your day to meditate and become present and notice a difference in your day. Try this: Come up with a mantra (ex: “I am powerful” or “I can get through hard moments”) and focus on that mantra while repeating the word or phrase, become aware of your body, thoughts, and feelings. Sit in that moment and notice whatever comes, returning your attention to your mantra if your mind wanders. Practice for 1-2 minutes and increase as you continue your meditation practice.

4. Take a time-out

If you are feeling very overwhelmed or frustrated, sometimes you need a moment to gather your thoughts so you are not reacting in the moment. Walk away and simply give yourself time to calm down and think about how you would like to respond to an upsetting situation. Try this: When you find yourself extremely frustrated, take a moment to walk into another room or part of the house, take a deep breath, and cool down. Maybe there is a diversion you can participate in to take your mind off that intense feeling (boardgame, listen to music, call a friend, rearrange a room, draw or paint, watch a movie) so that you can come back to the situation or person in a calmer state.

5. Talk about your feelings

Sometimes as moms, we can bottle up our feelings because we feel we have to be strong for our children and our families. Not being able to express ourselves only leads to resentment, increased stress and anxiety, anger, depressive symptoms, and sometimes even feeling alone. It is ok to express to our children that, “mommy is feeling sad or overwhelmed” so that they too can learn to express themselves to others. Suppressing our emotions only causes damage so do not feel afraid to speak up. Try this: talk to a friend, seek out a mental health professional, discuss your frustrations and needs with your partner, reach out to your community for support.

As mamas, our job feels never ending. We are tasked with the most important and amazing jobs there is: to raise healthy, supported, and loved, children! We are so much more than just mothers and we also deserve grace, support, love, and acknowledgment. Be kind to yourselves mama and know that you will get through these hard moments because they are just that- moments. I hope these few strategies can help you have better days and allow you to enjoy the journey of motherhood.

Shana Barber, Registered Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco

About The Author

Shana Barber, AMFT, is a Registered Marriage & Family Therapist at Spark All Wellness in San Francisco. She provides virtual therapy appointments for mamas and children