Motherhood can be stressful and overpowering. You have to adapt, be flexible, and have the tools to get you through the tough times.
How do you handle the tough situations that arise?
Are you calm? Or are you on edge and on the verge of a breakdown?
Do you face adversity with the confidence to overcome it?
If keeping it together is a struggle or you’re in constant reactive mode, resilience will be your tool for maintaining your mental health.
Keep in mind that resilience can be used in everyday situations and doesn’t just apply to tragedy or trauma. Any source of stress, resilience can help you get through it.
What is Resilience?
It’s a mental strength that can get you through life’s many bumps in the road. Think of it as a buoy that keeps you afloat or an elastic band that can stretch without snapping. It has flexibility.
Moms need to be flexible. Life can be unpredictable and unexpected things can happen.
If you don’t have the tools you need to manage stress, it can make it difficult to adapt and move forward.
Your kids can get catch a cold for the third time in a month. You can get swamped with deadlines at work. The babysitter can cancel last minute. A struggling friendship, the loss of a job, a passing of a loved one, the list can go on.
There’s a lot that can happen to throw you off course. That’s where resiliency becomes invaluable. Life is full of the unexpected so it’s important to stay flexible.
You might have heard that with resilience, you “bounce back”.
Personally, I don’t like the “bounce back” idea of resilience. As a mom, I’ve heard this too many times. Not all moms bounce back.
Sometimes we do bounce back, and recovery can be fast but that is not always the case.
With resilience, you can recover stronger and potentially better than before.
What resilience is…
- An adaptation tool
- A core principle
- Holds you accountable for things you can control
- Finding Balance
- Acceptance: accepting help and accepting what you can and cannot control
- Self-work: a commitment (time, effort, and patience)
- Personal growth
What resilience is not…
- Only for CEOs and Entrepreneurs (It’s for everyone)
- Tolerance or toughing it out
- You can’t be vulnerable
- Invalidating your feelings
- A quick fix to your problems
- Avoiding stress
- About doing it all on your own.
Do moms need to build resilience?
Resilience is a powerful skill worth building. It should be part of your mental health toolkit.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.”
So many moms are struggling to find this village. They are bearing the burden of not just childcare but work outside the home as well. Along with other events that can make life more challenging.
This is where finding and building your inner strength is so important in motherhood.
Because few moms have a village so resilience will help them get through the rough patches. Even if you do have support from your circle, resilience is still beneficial.
Resilience gives you the ability to adapt. It doesn’t banish stress or strong emotions but when you build resilience, you have the skill to manage your thoughts and actions.
Developing resilience is personal and will look different in each mom. How you respond to stress will be different from that of another mom. Your methods will be different also.
There are many ways you can build up your resilience even if you don’t have a village to help you through motherhood.
Some call resilience mental toughness but I prefer to call it mental flexibility and adaptability.
Imagine what your life would be like if you didn’t have this powerful tool.
Your life would carry an incredible amount of stress that could lead to some severe health problems.
Being inflexible and lacking resilience can lead to a standstill in life, making it difficult to move forward.
Without the ability to problem solve or adjust your approach as needed, you’ll find yourself frozen in place — unable to escape the struggle.
If you’re thinking resilience is only for specific people and not you, you are wrong.
It’s a skill that anyone can build and master. Anyone can be resilient, and you have the capability to build it.
How to build resilience as a mom
It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Small actions made consistently are enough to build mental strength.
It’s a journey, not a sprint.
There are four effective strategies you can implement to build greater resilience, here they are.
- Self-care (physical, emotional, and spiritual health).
- Clarity: Your values, principles, goals, and planning.
Start with Self-awareness
Never underestimate how powerful being self-aware is.
With awareness, you can recognize your thoughts and actions.
Without awareness, it is easy to become stuck in a pattern of repeating the same mistakes.
Being aware of ourselves gives us an insight into our emotions and how we respond to stress. With resilience, you are better prepared to cope and find solutions to your problems.
If self-awareness is not a priority, you’re going to feel stuck – a lot.
You can un-stuck yourself when you are self-aware.
Here are some doable ways to hone your self-awareness.
Take pauses throughout the day
Not only will it help you manage stress, but it gives you an opportunity to observe your feelings and behaviors.
Taking a minute to pause is helpful especially if you’re the kind of mom that plows through the day and considers yourself a “hot-mess” mom.
Do it every day, not just occasionally. Set reminders for a brief 1–2-minute pause on your phone, computer, or watch if you have to.
Try it for a month. What have you discovered about yourself?
Journal and free write
Take what you’ve learned about yourself, your thoughts, and your actions, and write them down. If you love to write, journaling or free writing is a simple and accessible way to build resilience.
Personally, I love journaling and free writing. It makes it easier to reflect on your day or week instead of trying to recall it after it happened.
At the end of the week, you can read what you wrote giving you insights into your behaviors and patterns.
It’s an easy way to learn about yourself. All you need is a handful of minutes, a notebook and a pen to get started.
Have you been putting off reading that book you promised yourself you would read but haven’t started yet?
If so, remind yourself that you might just miss an opportunity to learn about yourself if you don’t pick up that book.
Reading is an easy and affordable way to learn and develop self-awareness.
Even if you read a book and there is only one paragraph that clicked with you, it was worth the time you put into reading it.
Self-care is essential
Caring for your basic needs is non-negotiable.
Prioritize essentials like adequate sleep, fitness, nutrition, and stress management.
If you’ve been neglecting your physical, mental, or spiritual health, start prioritizing it.
It will be even harder to navigate tough situations if you are not meeting your basic needs.
Think about a time when you were sleep deprived, how did you function? Were you able to regulate your emotions? How did you act?
We all know that when our basic needs are not met, life is just plain harder.
Here are simple steps you can take to have better self-care that you can implement today.
1.Identify your support system
A self-care plan can help you stay connected and supported.
Find ways to stay connected with yourself and your community. Connecting with others who understand your struggles can be healing, so reach out to your circle of family and friends.
You can do this by joining online support groups or virtual communities. Clubs for special interests and hobbies are also a great way to find community and support.
Physical health is an important element of our overall well-being.
Taking care of our bodies through regular exercise is a great way to maintain healthy habits. Find an activity that fits your lifestyle.
If getting more movement in your day is a struggle, start small. It still makes a difference. 5 or 10 minutes to get the ball rolling.
What can you do in five minutes?
Take a walk, stretch, use a set of stairs, or do some quick exercises like jumping jacks.
5 minutes is doable, even for busy and exhausted moms like yourself.
Taking care of ourselves should always be a top priority.
3.Fuel your body
I know you know what good nutrition is and how important it is to feed your body with nutrient-dense foods.
But I also know that being a busy stressed-out mom can lead to some bad habits (I’m guilty of this!).
As with fitness, even the smallest of changes can make a difference and lead you to better habits.
You can make small habits with healthy swaps and by balancing your meals and snacks.
Meal planning and prepping are also going to help you save time and make better food choices.
It will save you the mental energy of figuring out what to eat after a long and exhausting day.
4. Commit to a rewarding daily ritual
Every mom deserves a restorative daily ritual.
Find an activity that you can do daily that’s just for you. It can be however short or long you want but you must take time every day to “fill your cup”.
Being a mom is rewarding, but it can also be exhausting and overwhelming.
It is essential for any busy mom to prioritize self-care in order to restore balance in their life.
Develop a daily ritual that you look forward to each day.
Daily rituals are meaningful habits that recharge your mental and physical energy.
A self-care ritual doesn’t need to be long or complicated to be effective. It could be as simple as enjoying a cup of coffee or tea by yourself at your local cafe.
The intention is to give you boosts of joy to keep you in a healthy state of mind. A healthy state of mind is being resilient.
Prioritize yourself. Take care of yourself.
How resilient you are depends on your outlook.
If you start your day with a negative attitude or have the belief that your day will be bad, guess what? It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Meaning your day will suck because you’ve already convinced yourself that it will.
Instead of starting your day with a bad attitude, take a deep breath and focus on the things that you can do.
Be aware of self-talk too. The language you use reinforces a good or bad attitude. Use positive and productive language like “I can, or I will” instead of negative and unproductive like “I can’t or I hate”, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, no one can be positive all the time.
It’s the continuous pessimism that hinders your ability to cope in life. A resilient person does not have a negative outlook on life.
If you’re struggling to have a better view of life, change your mindset.
Here are some small yet practical ways to change your mindset.
1. Find one thing you are looking forward to doing today. Make it a goal to do your best at that one thing.
2. Show yourself some love – give yourself a pep talk. Say to yourself “I am good enough”, “I am capable” and/or “I am in control of what is in my control”.
3. Seek positive influences. You know when something makes you feel good and when it motivates you to act or be better. Seek it out.
Clarity for purpose
Clarity is essential to developing resilience.
Having clarity helps us understand how we want our lives to look and gives us a sense of direction when we face difficulties.
It’s easy to feel stuck when you don’t have a plan. With no clear plan in place, it will be difficult to make the right decisions for you, and this will affect your outcome.
You don’t want to leave your outcome to chance. Know what matters to you.
When you know what’s most important to you, it becomes easier to make decisions based on your values rather than external influences. It gives you confidence in your abilities and your decisions.
Clarity enables us to break down big problems into smaller tasks that are easier for us to accomplish.
Having clear goals allows us to focus on what matters, while also being realistic in our expectations of ourselves.
This leads us to become more proactive and better equipped to handle life’s challenges.
Have a plan and set goals based on the S.M.A.R.T method. You can learn more about it here.
If setting goals is a struggle for you, start with micro goals that break down the action steps to accomplish the goal into baby steps.
Resilience is an important and powerful tool for moms. It isn’t something you’re born with; it’s something that can be learned and developed over time.
Motherhood is one of the toughest and most demanding roles we can have in life.
You have multiple responsibilities to juggle, and a sense of balance is a challenge. To stay resilient, make time to practice self-awareness, self-care, and positive thinking.
By embracing resilience strategies, you will be able to thrive in times of difficulty.
Whether it’s parenting challenges, or balancing home and work life, you are more likely to adapt and take on whatever comes your way.