Stress Reduction Strategies for Moms

Any other mamas out there feeling as stressed as I am? 

We’ve all been navigating family life in a pandemic for a year and a half, and it’s not going away anytime soon. Maybe some of you have accepted the reality better than I have. Maybe some of your families have had COVID, or you are all vaccinated and not as stressed about it anymore. 

So maybe you’re not all like me, but I’m over here still stressed out. And it’s not just the fear and anxiety of my family getting sick. It’s the strife this has caused in relationships. The bad behavior it brings out in so many. The politically charged hyper-defensive nature of conversations. The inability to ask an innocent question without being criticized. And it’s the prolonged not-normalness too. The way my children have normalized mask-wearing like it’s a seatbelt. (I’m super proud of them, but sometimes it just hits me.) 

The chronic stress of life now is not made better by the fact that so much stress is such a leading cause of other health issues. That chronic muscle tension in your neck? Those hours it sometimes takes to fall asleep at night? That heartburn? Low sex drive? All stress. 

[Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Don’t take my word for it if you’re having serious health issues.]

I don’t know about you, but knowing that I need to lower my stress level doesn’t really do much to help me lower my stress level. Instead, it only adds another thing to [not] check off my to-do list. 

Many go-to coping mechanisms only complicate all those health issues (as in comfort food or alcohol). But I have been experimenting lately with a few healthy stress-reducing techniques, so I’m sharing them with you. Find one or a few that you want to try. The key to most of these is consistency. Some of them can offer quick relief, but for a lifestyle adjustment, you have to prioritize them into your regular routine. One session of acupuncture or one try at meditating isn’t going to get you noticeable results. 

  • Massage. Always a feel-good option. Massage releases toxins in your muscles that keep you from being able to relax. It’s not just pampering.
  • Acupuncture. New to me, but I’m into it. Besides also providing pain relief to your stressed body, there are actual acupuncture zones for stress and anxiety. The middle of your forehead gets a needle, as do your hands and feet. These needles promote complete relaxation. You might even get a little seed taped to the inside of your ear which you can press on firmly for the next few days whenever you need a little stress relief. It does take a little more time. Each of my appointments has been at least 90 minutes. 
  • Counseling. Always a must if you have something you need to process. And even if you don’t. Or you just don’t know why you’re stressed. Or you just like talking to someone. Prices for counseling really range the gamut, and insurance often covers it too. 
  • Essential oils. This is an easy access stress-relief practice, but it costs some money upfront. You can get a selection from the grocery store or splurge for high-quality products you can buy online. Search Pinterest for really great tips on how to use oils for stress relief and which ones to buy. I like keeping a rollerball in my purse for instant relief whenever I need it.
  • Yin yoga. The yin to our busy, high-energy, yang-dominant lives. This kind of yoga offers relaxing poses that gently stretch our over-used muscles. You can find great free videos on YouTube. (I like “Yoga with Kassandra.”)
  • Walk. Maybe obvious, but going out for fresh air is sometimes all we need for a fresh perspective. Take your time on a stress-reducing walk. You don’t have to walk slowly. Getting the blood pumping can help clear up our mental fog. But walk for long enough to let your mind unwind. Avoid listening to anything or talking on the phone. Be an observer. Try to connect with the world around you. 
  • Tea. I know we moms make a lot of jokes about drinking wine when our kids drive us crazy. But hopefully we also know it’s an unhealthy coping mechanism for stress. After a long day, I really enjoy a cup of hot tea. My favorite is Yogi Stress Relief Tea (yes, I’m a sucker for branding). You can get it at H-E-B for about $5 a package. Something about the hot water (and probably the tea itself) truly does give me a nice calm. 
  • Meditate. It’s as hard as it sounds, but the number one rule is that you can’t do it wrong. Find a quiet and comfortable place. Set a timer on your phone, then put your phone out of reach. Take a deep, slow breath. Think about your breath. Repeat. You aren’t going to get through it without your mind wandering to your meal plans or your task list. But always come back to your breath. The more you do this, the more natural it will be.
  • Epsom bath. Epsom salt has magnesium in it, which relaxes sore muscles. Pour a cupful or so into your running bathwater. And if you have any lavender essential oil, add a couple of drops of it too. Close the door. (That is the most important step if you have small children!) And relax. 

As you can see on the chart, there are so many things you can do on the bottom left corner—which means cheap and quick. I hope you find something you can stick to. And if you do, I know you’ll be a zen mama and your kids (and probably spouse) will notice. 

I grew up in Dallas, went to college and grad school in the Carolinas (Furman-->Wake Forest) with degrees in art history and ministry/theology. I work for organizations that allow me to do things I care deeply about: advocacy for immigration, public education and religious liberty. We moved to San Antonio in 2012 for my husband to pastor a church here. When we moved here, our two older daughters were babies/toddlers, and we eventually added a third. They are now 5, 8 and 9. We chose to live really close to the church and hit the neighborhood jackpot. I'm a bookworm and always have 2-3 books going at once. I have learned to love good music by osmosis (my husband has great taste!) (my current favs: Brandi Carlile, Lone Bellow), but I'm pretty happy with silence too, since it's hard to come by with small children. We don't have grandparents or immediate family in town, and I'm insanely jealous of those that do. But luckily our friends here have become like family. Favorite Restaurant: El Mirasol Favorite Landmark: Eisenhower Park Favorite San Antonio Tradition: 4th of July neighborhood parade