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19 April 2012

Work Stress Sucks

StressedEvery mother is a working mother, whether they look after their kids 100% of the time, work from an office, or work from home. Everybody has their own situations and reality going on and each is different. I read a post by Scary Mommy the other day that resonated:

”...pitting stay-at-home-mothers against working moms gains us nothing...So here’s an idea: let’s support one another’s decisions. As mothers everywhere know, there are few decisions as hard as the one we make about whether or not to go back to work. A mother is a mother, regardless of her employment status, and the last thing you need is another mom judging your decisions. Do what works best for you.” (12/04/12)

So this is not meant to be a debate about whether it is best to work or not, or who’s job is hardest.

I started working part-time when my first-born was five months old. I felt then that it was the right thing to do, to help ensure that there would eventually be a stream of income coming from my direction. But the reality was it was an attempt to shore up a business that my ex had long since given up caring about. Two years and a hell of a lot of stress later I eventually realized it was a lost cause.

I have finally gotten to a point where the stranglehold of negativity, self-doubt and depression has started to loosen its grip. I am able to start thinking more clearly, about ways I can now positively contribute to the income of our family and, specifically, by what suits me AND our family. A dear friend of mine, who has worked incredibly hard to build a fantastically successful business offered me an opportunity to work freelance from home.

Great stuff! Off I go into the wide world armed with loads of life lessons from my recent experiences, what could go wrong? Why then was I finding myself jittery, checking my phone every two minutes to see if I missed a message, and yelling at my daughter if she happened to speak to me while I was writing an email? This was not the new Zen-master me that I had envisioned.

After several talks with close girlfriends and a few hours of self analysis I figured out a couple of things. First, it was new. It would take me a little while to get used to things and get in the groove. Second, I was being insecure. After not having worked in this particular environment for over 7 years I was a little nervous. In truth, I irrationally felt I was some sort of fraud that didn’t deserve to be there. Which is crap! I have loads of experience and I can do that job really well. Sometimes in a low moment I have to remind myself of that though. Thirdly, I mustn’t make any excuses for my lifestyle. I CHOSE to move away from the rat-race and live in a sunny place, but by doing so I chose to put my family first over earning loads of money. And I shouldn’t need to feel apologetic for that. So how to keep these conflicting emotions under control? Dealing with work stress is difficult under any circumstance. This is what I did.

Gertie’s Guide to Work Related Stress Relief:

1. Breath. When my heart starts jumping and I feel more flappy than a butterfly, I have to tell myself to Stop and take a Deep Breath. And I literally do just that. Count to ten, think of your special place, whatever it is you do, just as long as you stop with the fluttery business.

2. Believe in yourself. When I get stressed, I get irrational. I immediately jump to a message and think, ’How am I going to manage that?’ or ’I don’t think I can do that’. Then after I breath and concentrate quietly on the task I realize that it really wasn’t that hard after all. We all need to practice getting over insecurity, it’s wasted energy! Have more faith in yourself.

3. Sing. Yep, you read right. The other day I was in a flap and I knew I had to take control. I found out the best therapy by accident when I slammed on the stereo at full blast and was belting out Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know. After a full session of singing and dancing I felt a lot better. Lifted and invigorated. Listen to The wise words of Travis, and SING!


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