When it comes to life goals, working from home is a top priority for many people. It’s the work-life balance dream! But, for busy working mums who have already achieved that goal, the reality is slightly different. Taking care of the family all day only to work later in the evening or at the weekend, without the benefit of work friends or a peaceful office environment, can be tough going.
In fact, a 2017 study found that many people who work from home experience higher levels of stress than their office-based counterparts.
Why is this?
Some people are surprised that a home environment could be more stressful than an office, but there are some logical explanations for this. Firstly, the distraction level at home is off the scale. Whether its huge piles of laundry, childcare duties, meal preparation, or well-meaning friends and family calling for a quick chat, trying to get anything done without being interrupted is a monumental task in itself. Then there is the social isolation of home working which can lead to excessive use of social media to compensate for the solitude. A lack of schedule can cause a lack of focus making it hard for mumpreneurs to stay on track. So, what can you do to alleviate the symptoms of stress?
Build in a meditation practice
Ok, busy mums are usually the last people who have spare time in the day to simply just sit. But actually, building in a regular meditation practice – even if it’s just for a couple of moments – is an absolutely essential way to develop anti-stress coping mechanisms. Meditation is a super effective way to foster a sense of peace and calm while achieving a balance with work and your well-being. Research indicates that people who meditate regularly are much more able to reduce their stress levels than those who don’t. So, find a few minutes every day to listen to a guided meditation or simply focus on your breathing. It could be in the shower, before you go to sleep, or as you put your shoes on.
Maintain a good diet
If your diet consists of leftover fish fingers and cold beans, you’re not alone! Many mums forgo healthy meals in favour of hoovering up leftovers or grabbing a quick piece of toast. Time is of the essence when you have a million things to do! But eating properly is proven to reduce stress. Choose foods that are packed with vitamin C, which reduces the stress hormone cortisol, or complex carbohydrates which boost serotonin production and stabilise blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids are also shown to reduce stress hormones and protect against depression and premenstrual syndrome. Munch on snacks like oranges, whole grains, nuts, and seeds while you’re working to keep your stress levels low.
Play your way out of stress
Studies show that playing games can help to alleviate stress symptoms. This is due to a number of reasons, such as the social links made through gaming, the sense of accomplishment and achievement from finishing a game, and the problem-solving abilities that come with regular gameplay. When you play a strategy-based game that requires focus, analysis, and mathematical skills such as poker or chess, it can stimulate the brain and enhance the mind by creating new neurological pathways. In turn, this helps the brain to develop focus, patience, discipline, and emotional control, all of which are essential stress coping mechanisms.
Sleep it off
Yes, it can be very, very difficult to get enough sleep when you’re a mum! But actually, sleep deprivation can not only cause stress, but it can make the symptoms a whole lot worse. A chronic lack of sleep can lead to the brain producing cortisol, which increases feelings of stress in the body. It is recommended that we get between 8-9 hours of sleep a night to effectively deal with the symptoms of stress – but this isn’t always possible when you’re a mum. So, try to build in a schedule that allows you to get more sleep. Whether this means your partner taking over the night duties or finding a way to divide them up equally, look for ways to ensure that you increase your sleep so that you can better manage the stress.
Working from home can cause stress, but by meditating, eating properly, playing games, and sleeping better, you can manage the symptoms of stress and reduce their impact on your life.