Being chronically stressed can lead to an inability to rest, but lack of rest can make you more susceptible to stress. It’s like the chicken and the egg scenario, where each supersedes the other and it’s hard to tell which comes first. What we do know, however, is that it is super important to break this cycle so that we minimize the harmful effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.
When you are experiencing constant stress, you will often find that your anxiety and worry increases. The anxious thoughts may keep you up at night or even if you manage to fall asleep, they keep you tossing and turning and not getting the sleep you need. Sleeplessness impedes your ability to cope with what life throws at you, which naturally leads to an increase of stress. And thus the cycle continues unless you interrupt it.
Physiologically, when a person is in a stressful situation, the body releases certain hormones, particularly cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline, which is part of the fight, flight, freeze or fawn response, otherwise known as the stress response. Once a person exits that situation, the hormones subside and she can recover and rest.
On the other hand, when a mom is under continuous stress, which is way too common these days, the aggravation to the body’s systems does not subside and it can have a devastating effect on your overall health. Headaches, muscle pain, high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, and weakened immune system are just some of the symptoms that stem from chronic stress.
Both your mind and your body are experiencing the perceived threat and when you’re in danger, the last thing they want to do is rest. You might find it difficult to calm your mind when you lie down to sleep at night as you worry about your kids, finances, relationships, work, deadlines, and everything else that is demanded of you throughout the day.
As Super-Moms, we’ve got a lot to worry about and the constant struggle to keep everything under control is wreaking havoc on our ability to get proper rest. Let’s face it, putting out fires, dealing with crises, making daily decisions, meeting the demands of taking care of it all, and investing in our relationships leaves us feeling stretched in too many directions and limits the time and energy we need to take care of ourselves.
The Stress of Super-Moms
Busy-ness and overworking can not only trigger the stress response but also impede on the amount of sleep you are getting. Filling your hours with endless tasks and constantly feeling the pressure to get everything done can keep you up at night, either working or lying awake thinking and worrying about all that still needs to be checked off your list.
Intentional rest is necessary to break the cycle so that you can get the sleep your mind and body needs and allow the stress hormones to subside. This is much easier said than done with all the demands that are placed upon you each day. It also takes courage. In the hustle culture of today, the pull to keep going can be strong, but as mentioned it’s vital to your health and wellbeing to ensure that you are minimizing your experiences of stress.
One way to help you do this is to learn the skill of REST. Like any skill, it takes practice to improve upon but fortunately, it is easy to remember and the feel-good effects of it can be reinforcing, allowing it to eventually be your number one tool in dealing with the stress you’ve been dealing with.
REST has been shown to interrupt the cycle of stress and gives a person space and time to effectively cope with a situation that has the potential to trigger the stress response. By doing so, one can protect their mind and body from its harmful effects.
The first step is to take a breath. Too often, we can get to the end of the day without having taken a deep breath. Yet, by doing so, the body naturally releases relaxation hormones which counter the stress hormones mentioned above. When faced with a potentially stressful situation, step away and calm down by giving yourself space to do so.
Once you have taken some breaths, ask yourself what’s happening physically, mentally, and emotionally. Take stock of what you can control about the situation. Perhaps it’s simply that you can control your response and not much else. What’s out of your control? Check in with yourself and determine your thoughts and feelings about the situation.
S: Set an Intention
Decide what the next step of action will be and focus on that one thing. Stressful situations can get your mind racing and so giving yourself the space to think clearly and focus on one thing will reduce the overwhelm. Determine what will help you re-center or best communicate your needs.
T: Take Action
Finally, proceed mindfully with the next step that you decided upon. Use your awareness to put your intention in motion. Because you’ve given yourself some space, your action will be less impulsive and more effective.
Again, learning how to REST to counter stress will improve your ability to rest and cope with stress, creating an entirely new cycle, one that is much healthier for your mind and your body. Give yourself some grace as you practice this strategy and get more comfortable with giving yourself what you need.
How has stress impacted your sleep? What is the most difficult part about resting, especially when you are feeling stressed? How do you think using the REST method can help you manage the stress you are experiencing?
[TIME LIMITED] Want to find out more about attending the Stressed-Less Super-Mom Masterclass where you’ll learn how to reduce and manage the pressures you’re feeling? Click here.