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Lowering the Stress Load: One Working Mom’s Ideas

By on Friday, January 6, 2012

My life as a public relations consultant is pretty busy – there’s always press releases to write and send out, reporters to call, campaigns to design, websites to overhaul and clients to work with. But I’m also a working mother with a toddler, a husband, and three grown stepchildren. I work from home a few days a week, and I bop around Washington, DC visiting clients usually 2 days a week. As a working mom, I know I need some breaks for me – but they can’t be lattes mutliples times a day – because that will make me both fat and mega-caffeinated. Here’s a few things I try to do to keep myself happy and operating on a lower stress level.

Lower the overall volume of email I am handling on a daily basis. I was getting way too many emails on a daily basis that were just crap – filling up my phone and email account with junk I had to skim over and delete – every day. I am unsubscribing like crazy from stuff I don’t need. Leapfrog emails promoting their products? Gone. Driscoll’s berry promotion emails? Toast. Amtrak weekly updates on my account? Over. Jetblue/Travelocity/Expedia/Orbitz promotional emails? See ya the next time I am planning a trip. Thanks to all the deleting, I’ve lowered the overall volume and made it easier for important messages I care about to attract my attention.

Get some exercise. Sometimes this feels counter-intuitive (what – add one more thing to our schedule 3 times a week?!) – as I am giving up time with our toddler sometimes in the morning to go to the gym – but I’ve found that I’m a happier and better Mommy and worker bee when I’m healthy. I’ve also added walks with the stroller and my daughter to my exercise mix. I’ve combined gym time with reading time for my book club (making gym time much more appealing for me) too, which has made going to the gym less onerous. I joined a gym in October and while the holidays did a number on me getting to the gym to work out – I did manage to lose a few pounds, and I feel better about myself.

Read a devotional once a week. I resolved for years to read a devotional a day – and every year I failed at doing that. Starting with a goal of one a week – I can handle. Blogger and virtual friend Susan DiMeckle, an attorney and mom with three kids, has started publishing a Friday devotional for working moms on her blog and Facebook. Susan is also the author of Chasing Superwoman (which I reviewed on this blog). Susan talks about many of the issues that I wrestle with as a mom and a person of faith. Her Friday devotional topics coming up:

January 13:  Do Working Moms Have More Guilt?

January 20:  Why Do You Work, Mom?
January 27:  Working Moms: Do You Feel Alone?

Drink herbal tea and water more. Have less coffee and virtually no soda. While I still have coffee every day, and I LOVE a great latte (coffee is the one vice I will probably never give up fully) – I’ve discovered that hydrating more makes me happier and less stressed out. And while giving up soda was a stretch for me just because I had a soda habit for about 20 years – I find I am happier without it.

Schedule stuff for you. I do Saturday morning breakfasts with my girlfriends and bring along my toddler, who everyone loves to play with and see. I also go once a month to a book club discussion – which keeps my head out of work stuff to some extent (without this book club – I would never read ANY books not related to PR, social media or nonprofit management) and helps me stretch my mind and interests a bit.

Get one-on-one time in with your children. And your spouse. Keep a routine and stick to it. We live in a world where hyperconnectivity means people expect us to be “on” all the time. I’ve told clients that I go off the clock at 6pm and unless they have a media emergency of mega-import – that family time is not getting interrupted. Yes, there are exceptions, but they are not every day. I’ve also found it’s challenging for my husband and I to get time together – so scheduling a babysitter a couple of weeks in advance forces that one-on-one time for us to happen. We are also trying to eat at home more and out less – which gives us more time together as a family – and is cheaper.

Got tips or ideas to share? Moms who are out there – what are your tips for lowering your stress level and being happy?

Oh the life of the working at home mom. I have done this.
And so have many other women too! See my ideas on
keeping the stress load manageable.

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design work for publications and websites (portfolio). Ami blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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