As a busy mom, trying to manage stress sometimes isn’t among my top priorities. There are mouths to feed, children’s lives to enrich, a household to manage and 7,403 others things competing for my attention at any given time.
At one pivotal moment as a young mom, I remember one of those days when we didn’t have anything on the calendar. So what did I do? Whipped out the to-do list, of course! I was on a roll all day long and got a ton done…until about 7 p.m. And then I pretty much became a vegetable.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only woman in the world who works herself into complete exhaustion trying to get it all done. But if I’m not in tune with my own needs, I just don’t know when to stop…until I practically pass out. I get stressed to the max because the work is never really all done. I feel completely exhausted and inadequate, unable to give an ounce more of my energy.
I felt especially bad on this particular day because I could barely peel myself out of my chair to put the kids to bed, let alone give attention to my husband, whom I’d effectively ignored most of the day. Oops.
So he and I talked about it. Fortunately, it wasn’t a despairing conversation. The problem was not how to work harder and get more done, but rather how to find a place where I could feel good about what I had already accomplished. Then I would still have time and energy left over to give more to my relationships. It was a mental adjustment, and I knew what I needed in order to make it: to chill out. Rest. As we like to say, have some “Sabbath time.”
Stress management is a topic I know a lot of women know they need help with, but taking caring of ourselves is usually the last thing on our list. It just comes with the mom hat: others first. Me last. But truth be told? When we better manage stress for ourselves, we become much better moms and wives. And people, generally.
Since this incident, I’ve pondered what it looks like to incorporate adequate rest into my daily and weekly schedule. And I’ve come to the radical conclusion: In order to manage stress and feel better about my time management, I need to be productively lazy.
How To Manage Stress by Being Productively Lazy
For as hard as I work, I have no problem being lazy once my energy level is zapped. But what do I do during my lazy time? Do I surf the web, watch TV, or just zone out? Nothing is inherently wrong with those things, but if I don’t use my downtime to recharge my own batteries and get refreshed, then I’m setting myself up for failure later.
Here’s what I mean:
Example 1: I’m decompressing after a long day by scrolling through Facebook on my phone, taking those worthless personality quizzes or reading dumb articles. So I stay up half an later than I intend, sleep in the next day, and start the morning grumpy because I didn’t get up before the kids.
Example 2: For an evening together after the kids are asleep, Marc and I binge watch our favorite shows on Netflix. We have no meaningful conversation, stay up too late, and feel distant from each other the next day.
Example 3: I get up early to work out, read the Bible and have some time to myself. Instead of meditating or praying I start thinking of all I have to get done…and I begin the day feeling stressed.