Keep It Real
I was recently talking with a mom who is getting a new business off the ground while staying at home with her toddler. After contemplating her career direction as a new mom, she decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship in a field of work she’s deeply passionate about. She was telling me about the challenges of trying to fit everything into her life and how adding a new business to her already full plate was a stress-inducing endeavor. This conversation got me thinking about how we, as moms who have very full lives, perceive and manage stress.
What’s bringing stress into your life?
We often think of stress as a bad thing. This is certainly true in a lot of ways. Stress can bring on a range of physical health problems and negatively impact our mental well-being. But what we don't always see is that some stresses are accompanied by a lot of good.
When we have something we value in our lives it can bring us stress because we care about it. When we care about something the stakes are higher, but we find plenty of joy and meaning alongside the stress. For instance, the stress of an upcoming work presentation could leave you feeling anxious and preoccupied. But the experience of sharing your work with an audience and the accompanying professional gains make you feel uplifted and engaged. Our lives wouldn’t be complete without the things we value, so we take the stress along with the good.
However sometimes our lives become overrun with things that we hold little value in. These are things that don’t bring us much meaning and cause us stress. Perhaps it’s a feeling of peer pressure to bake fresh cookies for the bake sale, when it just isn’t a priority for you and there are more important things on the go.
How can you break the pattern of unnecessary stresses that threaten to take over your life and make room for the stresses that are worth it?
Evaluate your stress.
Your values are guideposts that can help you see if the stresses you’re facing are the welcomed stresses that also give your life meaning, or the stresses that simply leave you depleted. When you have a strong sense of your values it becomes easier to say yes to the things that matter and no to the things that cause unnecessary stress.
It takes courage to be real.
Living with authenticity means looking inward and being honest about what you really need and value, and then using that self-awareness to make authentic choices as you go about your life. Give yourself permission to get real.
You might find a daily reflection exercise useful in staying true to your needs and values. Here’s a simple exercise you can build into your daily routine.
Take five minutes in the evening to journal about your day. Use the following questions:
What did I appreciate doing today and why?
What is one thing I can learn from today that will help me tomorrow?
Writing about your day can help you process and let go of daily stresses so you can have a restful night. And you’ll gain self-awareness to guide you through the demands of tomorrow.
The thing about stress is that sometimes we need it.
Stress tells us if we’re on the right track or not. If we listen to it, we can make authentic choices. We will make room on our already full plates for the things we value, one way or another. We take the stress along with all the good that comes with living a life we value.
What happened to the mom I was telling you about? She made herself a realistic plan to get her business up and running, a plan that fits within her life. She’s finding support where she needs it so she can make her goals a reality. And I know she’s going to do great.