Parenting is not easy and it can be stressful sometimes. People often view the stress response as negative and want to avoid it as much as possible. However, there are some necessary and beneficial aspects to it. Our stress response is an adaptive behavior and it is crucial for our survival. You might have heard of the “fight, flee or freeze” response. Humans elicit this acute response when we are in danger in order to protect ourselves. In modern life, our stress is less frequently acute and much more chronic. A crying baby can make you feel stress, but it is different than fighting a wild animal for your survival.
What can you do when you feel stress?
- Change how you think about the stress response. Rather than thinking of it as a negative feeling you need to get rid of, you can perceive it as your body getting ready for the upcoming challenges. You are breathing faster because you are delivering more oxygen to your body for your muscles. Your heart beats faster because it is pumping more blood into your brain so that your brain is able to process more information and work more effectively. In another words, your stress response is helping you rise to the challenge at hand!
- Embrace it with positivity. Having a positive attitude can promote better mental health. In addition, your baby can sense your positivity. When you are being positive, your baby might feel positive too!
- Get social support. Talk to a friend or a family member about your feelings and emotions. It is okay to vent out your feelings. You may also discover new options about how to respond to the cause(s) of the stress from talking with someone.
- Acknowledge that no one can do everything perfectly. When things are out of our control, you might not have the ability to fix it. At times like this, you can ask for help and let others share your worries and responsibilities.
- Take a nap. Sometimes stress comes from lack of sleep, it is important to get enough rest!
Have some moments to yourself. Go to a quiet place or take a walk by yourself; if you have another trusted adult who is willing to look after your baby for a short time, take them up on it. It may help you to feel more calm and ready to meet the challenges you face.