There are times when moms find themselves overwhelmed, overworked, overtired, and plain "over it." It's understandable — taking care of small humans is no easy task. It's relentless, challenging, boring, thrilling, rewarding, and unrewarding, all at the same time. Sometimes these opposing feelings and forces mix together to create the perfect emotional storm. Before lashing out at your children and those around you, consider some of the little things you can do every day to keep your mom anger under control in the moment and beyond.
It's no secret that moms are under an incredible amount of pressure. Between toting kids to activities, taking conference calls after work hours, and trying to squeeze in some you time, you certainly can see how parents occasionally have patience that's as thin as a thread. The numbers back this up too. According to a 2011 survey conducted by Katrina Alcorn, author of Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink, 88 percent of the 560 respondents (all from households where all parents work) said they suffered from at least one health related stress problem since becoming a parent. Additionally, 59 percent said they had anxiety issues and 43 percent reported struggles with depression.
Beyond making time for some serious self and mental health care, it's important to have tools you can use every day to help with mini crises, meltdowns, and the chaos of life. Here are seven easy-to-implement tools that are super effective at calming fired up mom jets.
1. Try To Pause And Count Objects
"One thing that I tell moms to do is called grounding," therapist Kimberly Hershenson tells Romper. "Bring yourself to the present before you lash out and start screaming." She says one way to do that is pause and count 10 objects in the room you're in (you can do aloud or in your head). The counting stops your heart from racing and prevents stress from taking over. Basically, it brings the mood back down to a more manageable and healthier level.
2. Practice Your Deep Breathing Exercises
"When moms begin to experience high stress levels and feel like they are going to lose it on their kids, it would be beneficial to practice taking deep breaths to help reduce the fight or flight stress response," Parinaz Samimi, Sleep and Wellness Expert with Sleeptrain.com tells Romper. She suggests that moms practice deep breathing, also referred to as dialphragmatic or abdominal breathing. Basically you breathe in through your nose allowing your belly to fill up and expand, and let it out through your mouth.
"This allows for full exchange of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide, thus slowing down the heart rate," Samimi says.
3. Excuse Yourself From The Situation
If you're about to lash out to your child or partner, it's time to take a mommy time out. Hershenson recommends that you say something like, "I'm going to go in the other room, I'll come back when I'm ready." She also suggests that if you do go away for five or 10 minutes, don't ruminate about what's happening while you're alone as it won't help you calm down. "You need to do something to preoccupy your mind; put on a television show, read a magazine, do something completely different and cool down."
If you're a mother of a newborn you might be asking yourself, how do I leave the room of my baby? It can be done safely. When I was a new mom I was home alone with baby a lot initially. If I felt like I was losing my patience, I'd place my daughter in her crib or pack-and-play and go in another room (or my closet) for a few minutes to decompress.
4. Take A Walk Or Just Get Fresh Air
"This daily practice not only gets stress out of the body, it helps you be in the moment," psychotherapist Nicole Burgess tells Romper. She suggests moms take walks in nature to reduce anxiety and frustrations. If that's not feasible, she suggests simply going barefoot and feeling the grass beneath your feet. Listen to the wind or listen to the sounds of nature as you stand in the grass or walk. "Observe what is going on around you without judging or needing to change it," she says.
5. Make Sure You're Getting Enough Sleep
Are you getting enough sleep? Many moms probably aren't. "Sleep is restorative, and good sleep habits stick with you," Dr. Nikole Benders-Hadi tells Romper. "By giving your mind and body the rest it needs, it can help you achieve a healthy mind and body, and help you feel much better." She suggests that moms aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
6. Do Something You Enjoy Every Day
Sometimes, just carving out time to do something for yourself every day is what's needed to make you keep calm. When I was in the throws of new motherhood all I ever wanted to do was read a book for 30 minutes before bed. The written word fills my my whole-person-bucket, but with a newborn it felt impossible. That's until I made it a priority. Doing something simple that you love every day, even if only for 30 minutes, can help recharge your batteries.
7. Be Kind To Yourself
"Moms 'lose it' because they are impatient with themselves," Author, speaker, and psychoanalyst Dr. Claudia Luiz tells Romper. She suggests you, "see your anger as an opportunity for self-love."
She says that mothers who accept their range of feelings, good and bad, and were taught self-acceptance, are not thrown by their exhaustion, extreme frustration, and disappointment.
"The shame a mother feels after 'losing it' is really shame for having the negative feelings to begin with," she says. "This is where motherhood can teach you the path to self love."
A little self love can always save the day.
Using some of these tools aren't going to stop you from ever getting angry. That's not the point. They're simply available to help you in the heated moment. Everyone gets mad occasionally, it's how we handle ourselves in that triggered state that will hopefully have the healthiest impact on everyone.