The life of a work-at-home mom is inherently full of squeezing far too many "to do’s" into way too little time, and all that stress and anxiety takes a toll.
In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen explains four techniques to take stress in stride, and why going with the flow will benefit your career.
I frequently remind my yoga students to notice their physical sensations, breath and mental chatter as an outside observer would. When we learn to remove ourselves from situations (especially those we create in our heads), we subsequently give ourselves freedom to release unproductive racing thoughts, negative feelings and anxiety. The same technique can be applied to rolling with the challenges of being a work-at-home mom.
We all have those little moments that make our blood pressure rise, whether it’s an unkind email from a client, a dog tracking muddy paws across a just-mopped kitchen floor, or kids who won’t cooperate. While your stress reaction to such events is natural, learning to separate our flight-or-fight instincts gives you the power to choose how — and to what degree — you allow stress to sideline you. Before you lash out at your kids, fire back an angry email response, or curse the dog — see the situation as a third-party observer. Yes, she would recognize the chaos, but she wouldn’t be negatively impacted by it; she'll see, from her removed place of observing, that such trite events really aren’t the end of the world — or worthy of our precious energy. Learn to remove yourself when you're in the throes of stress, and step back from your emotions. When you can control your reactions, you lead your life on your terms.
Particularly when you’re self-employed and working at home, time is, literally, valuable. But, when you work in a state of hurried frenzy, you’ll have a hard time feeling focused or truly satisfied with the work you do accomplish. Set aside five quiet minutes at the end of each workday to cross off what you completed — and plan tasks for the next day — with a dose of realism. Consider the interruptions, including drive time to school, your child’s activities, and errands you need to run, like going to the grocery and even making meals. When you are realistic about how much time you can really devote to work, you’ll feel less inclined to flip out because there’s a traffic jam or a long line at the grocery store that is cutting into your work time.
There will never be nothing to do as a work-at-home mom; there’s no point working yourself to exhaustion trying to do it all. Schedule at least one “light” day during your workweek that allows you to take work a little easier so you can enjoy playing with your kids, making dinner, or whatever makes you feel relaxed and refreshed.
Designate at least one afternoon of the weekend that is technology- and commitment-free, and devote it to something you do purely for joy, whether it’s going for a run outside, watching a trashy TV show, holding your spouse's hand while you watch your child’s soccer practice, or ordering take out for dinner — and leaving the dishes until tomorrow.
As a work at home mom, you are surrounded by tiny comedians; crazy as it sounds, laughter yoga is a viable wellness practice that corporations spend big bucks on to help boost and reshape employee morale. Certified laughter yoga leader Debbie Friend says that when we laugh, stress hormones like cortisol and dopamine are reduced, while endorphins — our hormones that act as natural painkillers — increase. Muscle tension is released, and blood pressure decreases. The immune system is enhanced, and oxygen delivery to our internal organs is stimulated. Take advantage of the time you have with your kids, and reap the physical and emotional rewards.
The modern woman is redefining what it means to have a successful career. Rather than feeling torn between climbing the corporate ladder and having a happy family life, many women are choosing to merge the two and transition careers from a traditional role to a more flexible one. Working Mom 3.0 is reinventing the definition of "working mom," as office hours are held at home and revolve around nap times.
This column begins by chronicling the experiences of Stephanie Taylor Christensen, a former marketing professional turned self-employed, stay-at-home mom, writer and yoga instructor, as she strives to redefine "having it all" on her own time and terms.
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