Fighting the Stress Monster

The stress monster is a contagious little beast. It is especially catchy from parent to child. It's like you have an inextricable link directly to your child's emotion center of their brain and whatever they feel, you feel. So when they feel stress, you feel stress. And if you let that stress get ahold of you, you are fighting fire with fire. This is not at all helpful. I speak from experience!

When my first daughter was just 5 years old, we started noticing that she had a lot of worries. Worries that would keep her up at night and create a lot of tension and struggle when it came to getting out of the house and to school in the morning. After a few months, we started coming to terms with the fact that our almost 6 year old daughter was battling some pretty heavy stress and anxiety. Yes, at that young of an age. I wish I could say that it was then that I learned what to do and how to handle it all. But I didn’t. I got frustrated. I yelled. I felt like I was failing at parenting. I felt responsible for her stress. I adopted her stress. I became stressed. And then, of course, we got nowhere.

But luckily, during this difficult time, I eventually came to realize that gratitude and joy are as equally as contagious as stress. In fact, they dissolve stress! And the more I practiced gratitude, the more I could handle my stress monsters. And the more I handled my stress, the more I could help her handle hers. So I started to wake up an hour before my kids in the morning. I would make a coffee and grab my journal and go sit on my back porch and write down a few things I was grateful for. Some mornings, it was really difficult and all I could think about was, " I am grateful for my comfortable bed. Why did I get out of it?!" But eventually, it got easier and easier. I began to meditate and write even more. I would put on music in the kitchen and start the day with a heart full of gratitude and positivity. Some days were harder than others, but we just kept going. Now I would say we have a very healthy way of managing stress and anxiety in our house. While it does still occasionally show up for each of us, we know how to talk about it and what to do about it. We talk, we cook, we exercise, we laugh, we dance, we do whatever we need to do to get through it - but we do it together!

I learned that you can't fight stress with more stress. It's just adding fuel to the fire. I needed to manage my own stress in order to help her with hers. Once I took care of myself, taking care of her stress, worries, and anxiety came so easily. And it changed our lives. We live with a daily gratitude practice now. My lifelong mantra will always be "find the positive everyday" because it reminded me to look for the light when things felt really dark. Find gratitude in every moment. Find the lesson in the struggle. It's there. We just have to remember to look for it.

So if you are struggling with stress and/or anxiety, like we do, just say this on repeat, "I am grateful for..." and finish it however you want!

And remember, your answer can be as simple as "chocolate" or "silence"

... just allow yourself to have those moments to reflect on what you are grateful for in your life.

I am grateful for...

I am grateful for...

I am grateful for...

#gratitude #stress #stressmanagement #momtruth

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