Monday, September 12, 2016

Breathe, Momma...Just Breathe

If you're a mom and you're stressed out....
funny, I couldn't even finish the sentence because of the irony that hit me.

It would probably be simpler to remove the word "and" because "Mom & Stress" seem to go together.  I know this because I am one, and my job is to visit with moms every single day, so I live and see lots of stress.

Not to say that everyone doesn't have some, we live in a hectic world, but most mommas tend to take on all the burdens of the family.  We're women and we worry, whether we want to or not.  And it doesn't matter what season you are in - from waiting to meet your bundle of joy, to chasing toddlers, to approaching an empty nest, we all have our own set of stressors.

I'm in the latter, so I'll tell those of you behind me in the mom line, it doesn't necessarily get any easier.  Just different.  You swap out sleepless nights from a crying baby to restless nights awaiting a teen driving home. Gone are the crazy, jam-packed weeks of homework and after school activities.  Now is learning to find new ways to spend your time, because your nearly grown child is working or out with friends.  For everything you are wishing away, you'll long for those days again.  Promise.

Truly, the stress I'm feeling lately has nothing to do with raising a teenager and everything to do with being a 40-something woman.  I think...

I'm blessed with a wonderful kid.  He still hugs us and says "Love you," no matter who is around. He's mature and wise beyond his age.  This school year, I've been especially proud to see him growing up, handling more responsibility, and staying very organized.  As a mom, I can't complain.

But there's this feeling of anxiety I can't seem to shake.

I'm not sure when it started or where it is coming from but it isn't enjoyable.  In fact, it threatens to suck the very joy out of me.  If I tally my list of potential stressors, I could blame it on many things.  But being worried about Noah's safety on the road, having a heavy caseload at work, church obligations, tight finances, or the start of the holiday season isn't why.  Not even November looming, my now least favorite time of year, because of such painful memories of loss.

If I'm being honest, there isn't a valid reason for the anxiety.  It is just upon me, which makes it that much worse.  It would be easier to accept if I could blame it on a laundry list of valid causes.

I'm jumpier, emotional and impatient.  Things that would never bother me before are now.  The other night from out of nowhere I was covered with overwhelming panic.  Heart racing, tears falling, I didn't know where else to turn but scripture.  With a shaky voice, I began reciting peaceful, hopeful phrases from memory.  When that ran out, I searched my Bible under those key words.

I visited my trusty oil box for a natural dose of God's gifts from the earth.  Soon sweet scents were diffusing through the room, uplifting me with every breath.  I prayed, journaled, read.  And I turned on soothing music.  Before long, the feelings passed.  But it wasn't a solitary issue.

While it is uncomfortable to share and write about, I know this same scenario is all too familiar to many reading.  Maybe anxiety is something you struggle with daily, or you've just experienced recently like me, maybe you're in a season of continued stress, or maybe you just really need a mom time-out.

With moms, I know all too well, we tend to put ourselves last.  Self-care goes way down on priority for both time and money, but it is so very important.  Much like when flying in an airplane, the demo speaks to the importance of using the oxygen mask on yourself first.  Because you can't fully care for someone if you are out of air.

So what gives you breath?  What sustains you?  What refills you when you're empty or drained?

I've shared some of my go-tos for stress relief, I welcome you to share yours below.  Or prayer concerns.

If you aren't currently memorizing scripture, I encourage you to do so.  Write it out.  I write a scripture each month on our family calendar, I've been known to write out a treasured one on an index card and place strategically where I need to see it, I've written them on mirrors and even on my hand.  They truly are pieces of armor you can use to weather life's storms.

And as of late, I've been putting my Ipad on a timer and going to sleep listening to God's word.  It has helped my mood, my dreams and my spirit.

I'll close with an invitation for those of you who are local to our church Friday night.  We're having a family movie night and showing the comedy, "Mom's Night Out."  You're guaranteed a free, fun night of laughs.  My cousin and I escaped for a mini hotel getaway when it came out on dvd so I know you'll enjoy it.  It's worthy of a repeat watch.  Message me for details or follow us on Facebook.

And for those afar, I'll leave some of my favorite scriptures that I'm praying will bring you renewed breath.  Put on that oxygen mask and let Him sustain you!


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