Has Covid-19 tipped you beyond your breaking point? Are you exhausted taking care of your kids 24/7 while homeschooling, trying to work from home, and taking care of the house chores that have multiplied? Do you feel like crying with the stockpile of dirty dishes in the sink and the mountain of laundry to fold?
When you’re in a state of overwhelm as most of us are in these times of Covid-19, folding a mountain of laundry can feel like the last straw that broke the camel's back...
And I totally get you! When my son Nico was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old, I abandoned my law career to become Nico’s full-time caregiver. I was not only his mom but his teacher, his therapist, his program intervention manager, his advocate... I was doing all this while caring for my newborn son Alex and managing the household as my husband would travel out of town for work on a regular basis.
I became the ultimate super mom, and in the process, I not only lost my physical and mental health but I lost my spark and my identity.
I was burned out, overwhelmed, living my life on autopilot. I was physically and mentally exhausted all the time. Things got so critical that one day I almost had a car accident in between appointments with Nico’s specialists. I momentarily fell asleep at the wheel and luckily there were no oncoming cars on the other lane. Nico was in the backseat and we could have both been killed.
This was a wake-up call. I knew that I needed to get out of this cycle of burnout and chronic stress but I didn’t know how. I didn’t have the tools and strategies that I have now. So, I just kept living from one fire to the next without taking a break to detach and relax from the chronic stress of autism caregiving.
Can you relate? Are you a hamster on the Covid-19 Overwhelm Wheel? Endlessly putting out fires without taking a single break for yourself?
How would you feel about developing unstoppable resilience to chronic stress?
I believe that anyone can become stress resilient as long as they follow the tips I will share with you in a moment. As a single mom to a severely autistic 20-year-old, who according to the research has the same stress levels as a soldier in combat, being stress resilient allows me to not only survive but thrive despite daily challenges and setbacks. I have accepted that I may not be able to control certain stressful situations, but I am always in control of how I respond to these. I’ve taken charge and I want you to do the same.
My personal mission is to share with you my tips and strategies in order to save you time and heartache in your own journey to stress resilience.
My journey to stress resilience began about 11 years ago and by accident. When Nico was 8 years old, my family was given a guide dog as a gift. Sicas was her name and she became my life savior.
I started taking Sicas out for 10-minute walks which turned into 2-minute jogs, 1 mile runs, 2-mile runs, and so on, until one day I crossed the finish line of my first 5K race. And crossing the finish line of that first race would change my life forever. On that day, October 4th, 2009 - my 41st birthday - I decided that enough was enough. This was the kick in the butt that I needed to take charge and reclaim my life.
This started a transformational journey in which I decided to uncover the best self-care, mindset optimization, and stress reduction strategies that would help me develop the resilience to stress needed to parent my Nico with grace. These strategies also allow me to have energy, vitality, and mental strength to endure the long-term special needs caregiving journey while working on my dream business.
And believe me, developing unstoppable resilience to chronic stress is actually attainable, but you must adopt self-care habits, routines, and coping mechanisms that you have to practice on a regular basis.
In order to help you in these times of crisis, I have developed the H3MJPC Self-Care and Stress Resilience Blueprint. This method is the ‘’secret sauce’’ that helped eliminate the cycle of chronic stress and burnout and now allows me to stay stress-resilient in these unprecedented times.
A WORD ABOUT STRESS RESILIENCE FIRST
Research studies have shown that people perceive stress differently. When faced with adversity, people who fear stress and perceive it as a threat can be more likely to develop anxiety, depression, and burnout. On the other hand, those who perceive stress as a challenge or as a learning opportunity, become stress-resilient. These resilient people can effectively maintain social, mental, and physical well-being despite repeated exposure to stress and adversity.
Resilient people can overcome burnout, depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems while reducing the negative physiological symptoms of stress.
The key takeaway is this: it is our individual perception of stress that determines how well we respond to stress. So instead of feeling powerless and a victim of stress, see it as a challenge to be embraced.
And how do you shift your perception of stress from threat to opportunity?
One of my strategies is to work on keeping a strong and positive mindset at all times. My exact blueprint to stress resilience will be shared below.
7 SIMPLE TIPS TO DEVELOP STRESS RESILIENCE - THE H3MJPC SELF-CARE AND STRESS RESILIENCE BLUEPRINT
The 3MJPC Self-Care and Stress Resilience Blueprint is a simple seven-step system that will provide you with the blueprint to develop unstoppable resilience to not only stress but setbacks and challenges. These are the same exact strategies that I practice on a daily basis to manage the chronic stress of solo parenting my severely autistic 20-year-old while going after my dreams and aspirations with confidence.
Now a word of caution. The biggest mistake people make when trying to incorporate self-care habits into their daily lives is trying to do too much too soon.
You will feel overwhelmed if you try to adopt the H3MJPC Stress Resilience strategies all at once or too quickly. Take baby steps. It is better to do less and stay consistent than too much and quit. It is consistency that builds long life habits. Keep it simple.
Step 1: “H’’ Boost Your Health
Stay on top of all your medical appointments, including your yearly check-up and appointments with specialists such as dentists, dermatologists, gynecologists, etc.
Start your morning with a glass of warm water and the juice of a lemon. The lemon acts as a detoxifying agent and can do wonders for your digestive system.
Try to maintain a nutritious and balanced diet by reducing sugars and limiting unhealthy fats.
Hydrate regularly and aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.
Optimize your sleep by establishing a calming evening routine and aiming for at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
Step 2 : “M” - Move Your Body Daily (the first “M” of the 3M)
Sadly, stress lurks around every corner in our society. Regular aerobic exercise helps with stress reduction and increases the body’s ability to deal with mental tension. Now I can already hear you saying, “I don’t have time for exercise!” That’s where you are wrong. You’ll want to get your blood flowing—the secret is to start small and be consistent on a daily basis. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a five-mile run—rather, do some light activity and make it super fun. Here are some ideas to get started:
Go for a fifteen walk with your dog
Enjoy a beautiful hike in nature
Jog, ride or swim
Dance to your favorite songs with your kids
Do an exercise video from YouTube
Step 3: “M” - Practice Mindfulness Daily To Calm The Mind (the second “M” of the 3M)
I don’t know you yet, but I am honestly eager to help you adopt a long-life mindfulness habit. Why? Because mindfulness can go a long way in bringing you into the present moment and allowing your mind to declutter and make space for self-reflection and self-awareness. Mindfulness allows you to connect to your emotions and thoughts in the here and the now. In such a state, past frustrations and future anxieties lose their edge.
Get in tune with your senses: the smells, the sounds, the movement, the sights, etc. Sometimes doing a mundane task such as eating a raisin mindfully - focusing on a single aspect of the grape such as how it smells, how it looks, how it tastes - can bring our minds into the present moment. Don’t think of yourself as a meditation expert; instead, just focus on incorporating mindfulness moments into your daily routine.
Deep Belly Breathing (it is very simple, you can do a Google search for more details)
Take a five minute guided meditation break (find a meditation app or YouTube video that shows you the steps)
Take a 15-minute solo mindful walk and focus on your senses: the smells of the flowers, the breeze hitting your face, your movement, the sights, etc.
Step 4: “M” Nurture A Strong, Positive And Resilient Mindset (the third “M” of the 3M)
I created the F.G.P.S. framework to help me develop a strong mindset. I work on my mindset daily and these are the strategies I use:
F: Control Your Focus. Focus on what you have (gratitude), focus on what matters, and focus on what you can control.
G: Build A Growth Mindset. Step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself regularly. Face your fears and push through them anyways (and this will build your self-confidence). Allow yourself to make mistakes, forgive yourself and move on. Reframe negative situations - including stressful situations - into opportunities for growth. Accept that you may not be able to control certain situations including setbacks, life-altering challenges, and hardship, but you’re always in control of how you respond to them.
P: Feed Your Mind With Positivity. Don’t binge on the news. Catch yourself immediately when negative emotions and thoughts start to creep in. Turn these negative thoughts and self-talk into positive thoughts by using affirmations. Read or listen to books about personal growth and development. Listen to inspirational podcasts. In these times of Covid-19, I have become addicted to listening to audiobooks, podcasts or courses while I cook, clean, fold laundry, etc.
S: Develop Self-Love And Self-Acceptance. Be kind and love yourself unconditionally including your flaws. Don’t compare yourself to others. Encourage yourself always and give yourself a pat on the back for any goal or win, however small, that you accomplish. Be your own cheering squad.
Step 5: "J" - Journal Daily
Journaling helps the brain regulate emotions and can be a route to healing emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Journaling brings you into a state of mindfulness because you have to engage with your thoughts in the present moment—actively.
Journaling helps you relive beautiful memories and allows you to build a catalog of personal achievements that can inspire you when your confidence is shaky. It is also a great way to channel stress when exercise is not available. Finally, journaling can be a great goal-setting and visualization tool.
Here are some tips to help you incorporate journaling into your daily life:
Try to write for just a few minutes every day.
Make it easy. Don’t try to overthink or over-analyze the journaling process. Journaling should be freeing and fun—like personal relaxation time.
Keep your journal handy at all times.
Write anything and everything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about spelling mistakes or if your writing makes sense. Let it all out!
Your writing doesn’t need to follow any specific structure (it can be full paragraphs or point form).
Choose the format that fits your goals the best. It can be a simple notebook or a journal with prompts.
Keep your journal private.
Step 6: “C” - Stay Connected By Nurturing Your Social Support Network
The more you connect with other people, the happier you will be.
Maintaining a strong social support network will help you cope with stress, alleviate the negative effects of emotional distress and promote lifelong good mental health.
Here are some tips for helping you nurture, grow and optimize your social support network:
Add supportive family members, friends, and co-workers. Surround yourself with people who will be there for you during tough times.
Add people with different expertise and skills. Add to your social tribe those people who have specific expertise and skills to help you and your family - including specialists, mentors, and coaches. For example:
~If you are a special needs parent, a team of specialists for your child should be included
in your circle.
~If you are a person wanting to make self-care a priority, hire a personal trainer, life coach,
yoga teacher, and/or a babysitter (who can take care of your kids while you workout).
Volunteer. Pick a cause that energizes you and get involved. Get aligned with others who share similar interests and values.
Take a class. Meet others who share similar interests, hobbies, or pursuits.
Join online groups (such as FB groups). Find like-minded individuals going through the same journey as you.
Don’t isolate yourself.
And my most important tip: Don’t waste energy on people who drain you with their drama or negativity.
Step 7: “P” - Find Your Passion
A hobby that you are ultra passionate about can dramatically improve your overall wellness. Here are some of the benefits of finding a hobby that you are passionate about:
Stress relief. Hobbies decrease stress by relaxing you and taking your mind off the more pressing concerns of daily life.
Increased confidence and self-esteem. Hobbies give you a sense of mastery and increase your levels of confidence.
Increased sense of control. Since a hobby is yours and yours alone, you are the boss and can choose when and how you practice it.
Sense of purpose. There is nothing more fulfilling and exciting than pursuing what we love. This really fills up our lives with meaning.
Here are some tips for finding a hobby that you are passionate about:
Tip 1: Look to your past. What activities did you enjoy as a kid? Were you active in sports? Did you enjoy cooking or art classes? Get creative (paint, write, sew or sing) or get active (walk, hike, dance, or roller skate). Tip 2: Find something that lights your soul on fire. Find something that brings you joy and lights your passion. If you genuinely love your hobby, you’ll fully immerse yourself in it and stick with it for the long haul. Tip 3: Understand that spending time on your hobby is self-care. Tip 4: Find a community of like-minded hobbyists. Join clubs or organizations in your community centered around your hobby. For example, join a photography group, a special-needs organization, a yoga club, etc.
And these are all the elements of the H3MJPC Self-Care and Stress Resilience Method in a nutshell! I am 100% certain that if you incorporate at least one of these elements it will change your life for the better.
As a token of my appreciation for reading and engaging with me till the end of this article, I am going to gift you my Unstoppable You Self-Care and Total Wellness Assessment. This comprehensive assessment will help you establish where you are in terms of your self-care journey.
Here is the link to download your free gift.
Thank you for reading and I am wishing you the best of luck in your stress resilience and burnout prevention journey!
Claudia Taboada Your Stress Resilience and Burnout Prevention Coach and Mentor
Claudia Taboada is an author, motivational speaker, stress resilience, and burnout prevention coach for high-achieving moms and caregivers. She is also an entrepreneur, a digital course creator, and the founder of the “Unstoppable You Wellness Academy'' which offers digital courses, online live training as well as a variety of digital products to help busy women make self-care a non-negotiable priority in their lives. Claudia's most precious role is being a mom to her two boys - Nico and Alex. Nico is severely autistic, and for close to 9 years, Claudia was his full-time caregiver.
Social media links:
Linkedin - Claudia Taboada