I see you. I am you. Pulling my hair out strand by precious strand. Staring at myself in the mirror wondering how I am going to make it through the day. Sitting in my car too tired and weary to turn the ignition on to go to the store or get to work. My to-do list getting longer and longer and time to complete it shorter and shorter. Meanwhile daydreaming about sitting on the couch with a bowl of ice cream with warm salted caramel drizzle wrapped in my soft blanket with the TV on…wait where was I?

As a working mom I can only dream of things like peaceful tv and ice cream time, but ideally yes, this would destress me. But I have had to find new ways to comfort myself because my pants are already tight enough. When work is demanding and children are constantly asking for snacks and then the clock suddenly tells you dinner should probably be made or even started because later it will tell you the kids need to be bathed…it can become overwhelming very quickly.

Do children ever stop making noise?

I’ve worked at finding ways, even quick activities, to relieve some of this daily life stress. Sometimes I let it be carbohydrates, but because I am not 21 anymore, I had to find new non-delicious ways to lower my stress levels.

1. Music

I used to play violin in high school and a bit in college and making music always calmed me down. I have lost most of my ability to play sadly, but I still enjoy rocking out! I occasionally listen to very angry metal but have found lately that upbeat songs also do the trick. On Apple Music they have pre-made playlists like Stevie Wonder essentials and “happy mix” etc. Spotify is a free app that allows playlist creation and streaming musci as well however we have had Apple music for ages and hate change! Whether its jamming out in the car or having a dance party with the kids in the living room, I find a good tune can always change my mood.

2. Laughter

There is so much truth in the saying that laughter is the best medicine. If I find myself anxious during my work day I put on a podcast that always guarantees a laugh or three to distract me from my stressors, even for a few minutes in the car between patients. My current favorite is Smartless with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett. The best part about podcasts is they are free! I also try to find funny shows to watch, read funny books, visit Twitter where I follow mostly funny parents or joke accounts (you can find me at @mom_tho)

3. Writing/Reading

Writing has always been an outlet for me. I started a diary when I was 10 and in high school I began a journal of melodramatic and angsty poems. As an adult I still journal and I started blogging! Whether it’s tweeting or blogging it helps me to express my thoughts and feelings and get them out of my system. Even if it’s jotting down a few sentences to get the feelings out, a little goes a long way.

As far as reading goes, this is probably the thing I have the least amount of time for. I try to always have a new book on hand, and lately have been drawn to funny ones. A twitter friend of mine wrote a hilarious and relatable book on parenting, I highly recommend it! Reading this reassured me that I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings as a parent. Please check out Shame on You by Arianna Bradford! You can find her on twitter at @thearibradford and you can check out her website as well.

4. Exercise

I know, I know. Even I have a hard time with this one. Some people are great at exercising diligently (gives a side-eye to my husband) but for me it’s something I have to force myself to do. That endorphin release that comes with it is worth the effort though! I recently cancelled my gym membership because I find it easier to convince myself to go to the basement rather than drive to the gym. YouTube offers so many types of exercise videos including yoga, dance workouts, and more, all for free!

5. Friendship

Okay so this one can also be difficult, depending on your situation. With most places in quarantine at the moment I haven’t seen any of my friends in months. But I do have a few that I can call. I think it’s really important to have at least one or two people that you can vent to, even if its a few minutes here and there. My husband is my best friend but there are some things I go through that only another woman or mom could understand. I have a couple of friends who I can say anything to and I know I won’t be judged, and they know the same with me.

I have also learned over this past year and half that friendship does not have to be limited to people you’ve met in person. Through Twitter and an online game I play I’ve learned there can be quite the supportive community online. They are people who have shared interests and experiences. I hope to meet some of them in person some day, but there are several in other countries that I may never have the chance to. Regardless, having conversations with them helps me feel less alone in stressful situations.

There isn’t a soul on earth who will live through this life without some sort of stress here and there. I figure if I can survive the daily headaches that accompany my job and my always well-behaved children then I will be a better me for everything and everyone. But most importantly, for myself.

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