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    Wednesday
    Apr132011

    Managing Stress as a Working Mother

    Work stress is a major issue facing the UK workforce at present with Government figures showing that one in five people suffers from workplace stress. But you probably don’t need us to tell you that if you’re a working mum-you already know all about work stress! What you might like is some advice on how to manage the stress so here are some tips that hopefully won’t be too stressful to follow! We've also created a more comprehensive eBook called Managing Stress at Work, that is full of tips and ways of handling stress effectively.

    To say it’s a challenge striking the right balance between hard work, quality parenting and good health is an understatement. Your boss is moaning on about some spreadsheets you were meant to do three days ago, there’s a client on the phone wanting to arrange a meeting with you in his house (creepy) and the nursery is phoning your mobile to say your child’s ill and needs picking up. If this sounds like an all too familiar situation and just reading about is getting your blood pressure up, it’s time to make some changes. Getting stressed to the point where it’s affecting your health isn’t going to help anyone, least of all your children or your employer. Here are some steps to help you keep those stress levels in check:

    1. Improve your time management

    Cut down on inefficient uses of your time and on activities that are draining you.  Even though it’s tempting to go out boozing anytime the babysitter’s available, cut down on these late nights, especially when you have to get up early the next day.  Prepare everything you can for the next day the evening before, once you put the kids to bed. This includes clothes, documents, meeting preparation and so on.   This will save panic and stress in the morning when you’re trying to get both yourself and your children ready.  Create to do lists to help you stay on top of things.  Use them as checklists you can tick off tasks from.  It will keep you focused and also make you feel good when you have achieved each task. This applies to both parenting and work tasks-make separate lists if that makes it less confusing for you.

    2. Watch your diet

    What you eat can affect your energy levels and therefore how you cope with the amount of pressure you are under.  Cut down on ready meals, takeaways and chocolate.  Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit and manage your diet.  The healthier you are the less susceptible to stress you will be. If you’re eating right, it will also be easier to encourage your children to have healthy eating habits from an early age. Having said that, it’s alright to have a bit of chocolate every now and again. Hello, like we expect you to cut it out altogether?!

    3. Exercise

    If you do not have time to exercise, make time!  Early in the morning, after work, on the weekends or during your lunchtime perhaps.  Maybe even flex your working hours to fit it in if you can. It is important.  Keeping fit will make you feel better, give you more energy, make your brain work more efficiently and effectively and overall help your performance at work. Yeah, exercise is a chore but you can make it fun by doing it with your children. For example you could go on a bike ride together, take a long walk in the woods or splash about in the local swimming pool.

    4. Flex your working hours

    See if there is some flexibility around your work.  Talk to your boss.  Explore whether working from home is an option.  Having just one day at home every now and again can really help with your energy levels by cutting out travel and giving you more control over when and how you work. It also gives you more time and opportunity for sorting things out from a parenting point of view, be it helping your children with homework or registering them for a new club.

    If it suits the timing of the school run, get into work slightly earlier and leave earlier, or get in later and stay later in order to avoid rush hour and traffic.  You can reduce the time needed to travel and hence save a lot of energy, especially if you do have a school run to contend with as well as getting to work.

    5. Manage your workload

    If your workload is overwhelming and too much to handle, see if you can delegate it or get your colleagues and team mates to help out with different elements to spread the load. However, be careful not to assume that co-workers without dependents will necessarily have no life and no stress! It is important that you communicate what you are doing with those you are working with. This also applies to communication with your partner, nanny, schoolteachers and the children themselves. Even if your children are too young to understand exactly why you’ll be home late, explaining things to them will help you form a bond of communication with them that can last a lifetime.

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