We moms have a near-universal habit of putting off our needs for those of our family. Your physical and mental health takes a backseat to the kiddie carpool, playgroup, cooking and cleaning. Over time, the effects compound and add to your stress load with no break in sight, eventually leading to mom burnout.
You’re the best version of yourself when you’re rested and stress-free, and one of the best ways to do that is to get enough activity. It may seem counterintuitive since many view exercise as uncomfortable and annoying. You can come up with every excuse in the book — we’ve tried them all, too — but nothing can beat your blues like a little movement.
Stress-Busting Benefits of Exercise
Working out regularly can significantly improve your physical and mental health, helping you to feel better and stress less.
Exercise can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep at night and decrease daytime sleepiness. Many people who work out regularly find they’re able to stop taking sleep aids. Since exercise also contributes to weight loss, those who experience obstructive sleep apnea may find relief from their symptoms. When you’re better rested, you’ll feel more capable of handling daily stressors.
Endorphins are feel-good chemicals released by your brain, and getting movement is one way to increase their production. Even a short walk or active playtime with your kiddos is enough to reap the benefits.
Provides an Outlet
You strive to be a positive role model for your children, which can make finding positive outlets for your stress very difficult. Regular exercise is a great way to blow off some steam before you take your anger out on the kids. Plus, you’ll be modeling a more active lifestyle for your children.
Decreases Depression and Anxiety
When stress turns into more serious mental health issues, exercise can still help alleviate some symptoms. Studies show even a 10-minute walk can boost mood and ease anxiety for several hours. Exercise may even work to protect your brain against stress, lowering your chances of anxiety and depression.
Possible weight loss is just one small way exercise can build your self-confidence. Even more importantly, you’ll grow in strength. You’ll be able to dance harder, walk farther, swim faster and lift heavier. Give yourself new challenges and goals for your fitness journey. Before you know it, your stress will melt away.
Tips for Getting Enough Movement
Simply making the time to fit in exercise is often the biggest hurdle for moms. These quick tips will help you make regular movement a habit.
Dress for the Occasion
If you’re having a hard time getting started, the easiest step is to get dressed in proper workout clothes. Your brain will begin to tie putting on exercise gear with movement and the rush of endorphins afterward. Start with a goal of just putting on your outfit with no further commitment. Once you cross that barrier, you might find it easier to go for a walk or do one rep with your weights. The right outfit can be quite a motivator and confidence booster.
Join Other Moms
One thing moms have an even more difficult time accomplishing than self-care is socializing with other adults. Kill two birds with one stone by looking for a mommy group that works out together regularly, or create one with your own mom friends. Take a walk through the park with your strollers, do mommy and me yoga or take turns watching each other’s kids while the other ladies take a fun new class.
Pick Something You Enjoy
Exercise will only be as stress relieving as you let it. If you consistently force yourself to do workouts you don’t like, you’ll probably feel miserable afterward, and you certainly won’t want to keep going. Finding movement you enjoy is the best way to make exercise a stress-busting habit.
Include the Littles
Instead of using a lack of alone time as an excuse to avoid exercising, include your kids in the fun. Fitting in more movement each day doesn’t have to look like a workout routine — you can change your lifestyle to a more active one. Take your kids on a nature walk or hike, go swimming, play in the backyard or have a dance party. Try to plan one movement-focused activity each day, and you’ll be well on your way to your goal of less stress.
Move It at Work
Working moms find it especially hard to find time to work out since their time at home is significantly reduced. However, no one ever said you can’t exercise at work. Bring some sneakers and use your breaks to go up and down the stairs or jog around the block. If you have your own office, you could even do a set of your favorite bodyweight exercises in-between calls or emails.
Use Your Surroundings
Your workout can happen wherever you are, and use whatever you have available. When your kids are playing on the playground, use the monkey bars for pullups and benches for inclined pushups. At home, use jugs of water for weights and free online videos as your fitness instructor. Nothing about your routine has to be fancy — do what you can, when you can.
Every Little Bit Counts
As you work towards making exercise a habit, start small and work your way up. There’s almost no way you’ll be able to immediately go from no activity to 30 minutes a day every day. Increase your movement in stages, and keep in mind every little bit counts. With each step and rep, you’re getting closer to your goal of living with less stress.