Stress Management

5 03 2009

Living in a stepfamily can create the kind of constant stress to the body and mind that astronauts and soldiers are trained to handle. But as far as I know there isn’t a boot camp for stepmoms that teaches you how to handle living with daily stress in the very place that most people consider a place to relax–home.

It can bring a good woman down.

We’ve had flair ups in our stepfamily lately and the stress has started to show up in my body. Tight shoulders, aching neck, shallow breathing, difficultly sleeping. And so, m’ladies, once again I offer you a list of stress busters because we all need them. If you have any you’d like to share, please do!

Read for total escapism. Whatever your favorite reads are, I say go for them, even if you feel like you have to hide them behind a book cover or in your Kindle. Buy the book cover. Download away. Right now I’m reading the classic Glitter Baby by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. It’s good old-fashioned fun.

Watch a movie. One you picked, not one the skids fought over or your husband thought you might like. Pick one that’s just for you.

Find out where stress lives in your body. Close your eyes and think of the most stressful thing in your life right now. What happens to your body? Where do you tighten up? Use breathing, stretching, or massage to get those knots out of your system.

Don’t try to pretend you’re okay when you’re not.If you’re feeling crappy, don’t slap a fake smile on your face. Tell your family you’re having a rough patch and need their compassion. Or if you don’t have that level of openness yet with your stepfamily, head out for a mini vacay to a place where you don’t have to put on your smile like a suit.

Play. Bring out your inner kid with a toy pottery wheel, finger paints, a trip to the ice skating rink.

Allow your anger. Get it out ladies. That stuff is poison if you let it sit. And as you all know, most of us have been trained since birth that anger isn’t lady-like. We’re supposed to be nice, play nice, share, bite our tongues, keep our voices down etc. etc. etc. With that kind of training how are we supposed to know how to deal with our anger in a healthy way? Try screaming at the top of your lungs when you’re alone in the house. Beat a pillow. Throw glassware. Trash your room. Rip something to pieces.

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3 responses

5 03 2009
Peggy

I call this Self-Care. When we get into a Caretaking mode, stress is inevitable. Over on my blog, I wrote about Self-care vs. Caretaking. It hit home to a number of my step mom friends.

As a Bonus Mom, I beleive that Self-Care is as vital as Oxygen. In my case, my two best outlets are Martial Arts (both my step son and I do Thai Kickboxing together) and Yoga. I am a certified yoga teacher and I’ve been practicing since 2002…my yoga practice (breathing, meditation and asanas) gets me through life’s speed bumps =)

16 03 2009
Karen

I love that – the “Bonus Mom”! I have to start using that one.

I have step-children who live with me full time because mom has her own “stress” to deal with. Their mom has been “grieving” for nearly two years since they do not live with her and will not communicate like an adult or take a parental role in their lives, except to hang out and be cool every second weekend.

I have gone through stages of resentment, anger, stress, hatred, spite, immature behavior and sadness. I decided that in order to be the best “bonus mom” I can be, I have to be the healthiest person I can be, mentally and physically. I started buying organic food, and started jogging almost daily. I can’t say it’s easy, and I have to juggle more and am not available for every question or need they have – but their dad is!! I had to give up some control isues of my own and TAKE time back for myself in order to give them the kind of role model they need. I can’t bottle my stress up, or take it out on anyone else, and I can’t change the mom’s ways. What I can do is take care of me and therefore be an asset to the family.

22 06 2009
Louise

I knew that the stress had an affect on my body but didn’t really have the proof until I was in the hospital for surgery and hooked up to a heart monitor and blood pressure machines. As soon as the subject of my stepdaughter came up, my blood pressure and heart rate started to climb. I was glad that my husband was there to see that happen. It made him see that it wasn’t “all in my head” and made me more aware of trying to relax. It’s not worth the risk to my health.

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