The potential effects of stress, both in the short- and long-term, are still widely unknown. Although studies have shown that stress has the ability to cause side effects both mild (fatigue, inability to focus, etc.) and serious (major illnesses), it could be responsible for all manner of ailments. It might, for example, increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, especially when paired with other factors like heredity, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle. And for the average work-at-home mom, stress is simply a part of daily life. When you’re juggling kids and clients while trying to manage a household, you barely have time to think, much less consider the effects that stress could be having on your body. But over time the symptoms may become more difficult to ignore. So here are just a few ways that you can attempt to reduce your stress and keep your health (and sanity) intact.

  1. Take the time to plan. You might not think that you have half an hour to spare in any given week to plan ahead for the days to come, but you’ll be surprised to learn that spending your time in the planning process now can save you a lot down the line. If, for example, you plan and prepare for your weekly meals on Sunday night, then everything will be laid out and ready during the week so that you don’t have to rush around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to scrounge up a serviceable dinner for the family. Planning now can always save you time later.
  2. Schedule in down time. Working from home often means that you get to set your own schedule, and while it may be full, you can certainly take advantage of this flexibility to gain a little wiggle room here and there. If you approach your schedule from the standpoint of a paid employee, for example, you can justify working in break times. Perhaps you can spend this time quietly reading with the kids as a way to relax and shift gears during the day. Or maybe it will help you on days where activities run late or emergencies arise. The point is that without this wiggle room your stress levels could quickly ratchet up and leave you feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Learn to say no. This is perhaps the best advice for any overworked mom seeking a little respite. It’s truly surprising how many women seem unable to say no, but if you want to reduce stress you need to take control of your life and your schedule. So limit after-school activities, turn down jobs with too-tight deadlines, and let the church know that you can no longer participate in the weekly bake sale. Once you’ve seen to your own health you can reassess your commitments.
  4. Ask for help. You’re not the only person living in your home, so don’t be afraid to ask everyone to pull their weight when it comes to household chores. As your kids get older they can pitch in, but don’t let your partner off the hook. Working outside the home is not a good enough reason to neglect the cleanliness of one’s living space.
  5. Give yourself a break. Whether you’re looking to get a few zees, stop migraines, or simply take the time to pamper yourself a little, it’s important to attend to your own needs once in a while. If you have to hire a babysitter or hand the kids off to their grandparents for a weekend, do so. Time spent on yourself is just as valuable as the time you spend with your kids or clients, but only you can make the decision to give yourself a break.

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