In today’s fast-paced world, it is not uncommon for women to wear many hats in their families. More often than men, statistics show they are tasked with caregiving responsibilities for both children and family members inside their home.
Shirranna Todd, a single mother of two boys and a foster mother to three others, says being a working, single mother is very stressful.
"I make sure that they have everything that they need, everything that they want, before I do anything for myself," Todd said.
A study by the American Psychological Association, shows that, of anyone, moms are the most susceptible to stress.
"In my practice, I see many mothers, and I rarely meet a mother that is not stressed out," said Therapist, Dr. Amy M. Adams.
Todd says on a scale of one to ten, her stress level rates near the top.
"Daily, probably about a 7 or 8,” she said. “I have to make sure that my children's schedules are in line, my schedule for work is in line."
Dr. Adams says single mothers are most likely to suffer from stress.
"Mothers have to play the role, if they are single mothers, the role of father as well as mother and that's very stressful to do and really unrealistic," said Dr. Adams.
Mother's Day is Sunday, and Dr. Adams suggests doing something special for mom.
"A mother is not replaceable on any level and sometimes it takes people learning that the hard way,” said Dr. Adams. “Give your mom a break, do something special for her."
She says handmade gifts can be the most heartfelt.
Just in time for Mother's Day, the Arkansas Psychological Association put together a list of healthy lifestyle strategies for busy women, mothers and caregivers:
Take care of yourself— Set aside time to engage in healthy activities that you enjoy or that help you relax. Identify hobbies, increase exercising or eating healthy foods. Making time for yourself will help you better manage stressful situations and allow you to better care for the whole family. Also, find something that makes you laugh – humor is important, and laughter can really make life a whole lot easier.
Recognize how you deal with family stress — Some people deal with stress by engaging in unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, comfort eating, or yelling and becoming irritable. Remember that stress is inevitable. What makes the biggest difference is how you manage that stress.
Reach out to others — Enlist and accept help from others including friends and family. Identify ways your family can help with specific needs that must be met like proving a meal or babysitting so you can find time to take a break and rejuvenate. Take time to connect with your girlfriends when you are feeling overwhelmed. Strong female friendships can help women overcome stressors.
Keep things in perspective —Remind yourself that each morning offers a new start and take things one step at a time. Realize that there is no one perfect way to parent. Staying optimistic lowers stress.
Prioritize — You can only do one thing at a time. Delay or say no to the unimportant tasks, and make appointments for more important tasks, such as spending quality time with a spouse or child.
Be organized — Keeping the family and yourself organized reduces stress. Put family health information in separate folders; get family members to keep laundry in color coded baskets; keep book bags in assigned bins. Harried searching for things adds to mom’s stress. Enlist your children’s help in developing an organization plan for your household - if they are involved in the planning, they will be more likely to follow through.
Ask for professional help — If you feel overwhelmed by stress or the unhealthy behaviors you use to cope, you may want to talk with a psychologist who can help you address the emotions behind your worries, better manage stress and change unhealthy behaviors.
"With professional help, hopefully it will prevent mothers from pulling in things into their lives that could be detrimental to them," said Dr. Adams.