4 ways to combat stress for busy mamas

4 ways to to combat stress for busy momsYou’re under a great deal of stress. Let’s be honest.  Not only did you carry a child (I don’t care how long ago that was, it takes a serious toll on your body and loads of time to recover),  but you have the hardest job on earth.

Let’s list some of the physical stress you’re under.  Are you breastfeeding?  Do you lack sleep?  Do you forget to eat cause you’re too freaking busy? Do you have new allergies that popped out of nowhere? Are you still carrying around baby weight?  This is all extra stress for your body to deal with.


And what about the psychological stress?  Oh my god there’s a rash on my baby’s tummy!  Why the heck is my toddler so picky? Oh my god not a fever.  Where is my sex drive? Who am I now? I feel housebound. Nobody understands me anymore.


Doesn’t it just seem like it’s just too much sometimes?  Yes.  It’s just too much…. if you don’t find strategies to adapt and get you through.

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Your body doesn’t care what the stressor is – it responds the same way

See, the thing about stress is that whether the stressor is physiological (like toxins, inflammation, lack of sleep, oxidative stress) or psychological (like worrying about your child’s fever or feeling isolated or feeling angry that your family needs to eat AGAIN) your body uses the same mechanism for dealing with it.

It’s called the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis (HPA axis for short).  These 3 organs work together to manage our stress – together they release hormones and neurotransmitters that help you get through the stressful time and then they also lend a hand in cleaning up the garbage that the stress response left behind.  It’s an amazing system.

When you’re a busy mom trying to get through the first 10 years of mothering your HPA axis has a lot of work to do.  It is activated every time you feel like you’re teetering on one foot on the edge of the deck about to fall into ice cold water.  Ever felt like that?

Given all the stress we are under,  it’s pretty safe to say that unless we are actively working on reducing our stress, our HPA axis is chronically “on”.  This means your body is always in “compensation mode” – working hard to keep the house in order and clean up a perpetual mess (so to speak).

Bottom line is this:  Stress is a given when you’re a busy mom.  If we don’t take care of our bodies, we can’t manage our stress.  If we can’t manage our stress we open ourselves up to all kinds of down stream affects, the result of an exhausted and overworked HPA system and circulating hormones that wreak havoc.

If we don’t get control of our stress response we:

  • can’t lose the baby weight
  • can’t fall asleep or stay asleep
  • get irritable
  • get sick a lot
  • have sugar cravings
  • can become diabetic
  • can develop allergy
  • can get depressed
  • risk thyroid hormone malfunction
  • risk burn out

So what’s a mama to do?  Don’t worry.  I won’t leave you hanging without some strategies.

Reducing the stress is the obvious solution here but, hey, we’re busy moms so easier said than done.

So here are 4 tips for maximizing the power of food to help your body deal with stress:

  1. Increase supportive nutrients.  Your stress organs require nutrients to function well.  If the HPA system is  on overdrive, it needs extra fuel so it doesn’t self destruct.  Iron, B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids and protein are key players. Red meat, organ meat, Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines, Oysters, Pumpkin seeds, Chia seeds, Yogurt/kefir, Leafy greens, Lentils, Avocado, Raw Cocoa, Brazil nuts, walnuts, Coconut oil, and coconut milk are great foods to incorporate.
  2. Keep your blood sugar stable.  Cortisol is the master hormone created by the adrenal glands.  Stress stimulates the body to release cortisol in an effort to increase blood sugar – it’s part of our “fight-or-flight response” (aka stress response).  If this goes on for too long we become hyperglycemic, insulin resistant and eventually diabetic.  Yes, all because of stress.  When we eat in a way that exacerbates this blood sugar rollercoaster ride we risk accelerating the problem.  You’ll find some tips on how to eat to stabilize blood sugar here
  3. Increase antioxidants.  Oxidative stress, also known as “free radical damage” increases when the HPA axis is activated.  Antioxidants – vitamins A, C, D, E,  the minerals zinc and selenium, and various phytonutrients – bind to free radicals and neutralize them so they cause less inflammation and damage.  Your body will make some antioxidants, but you’ll also get lots of antioxidants by focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and pastured meat.  Fermented cod liver oil is also an excellent source for vitamins A and D.  Here’s a post with more details on antioxidants, and here is a link to the best broad spectrum supplement I recommend to get this base covered and speed up your recovery.
  4. Curb the coffee consumption.  Though you might feel you need the boost, caffeine stimulates the production of cortisol.  Cortisol, in turn, influences your metabolism, your immune function, your digestion, your cardiovascular system, and your mood.    You gotta get that hormone under control to feel better.  Some people can tolerate a cup or two, some people can’t.  So if you find yourself stuck or on a plateau, try cutting out coffee for a while to see if you are among those who have a particularly strong cortisol response to coffee.


There are many stressors in our lives that are more-or-less out of our immediate control.  Our mother-in-law’s surprise visits, our kids drawing all over the living room wall, our baby waking up hungry ever two hours, and the government’s foreign policy, for example.  But one thing we do have control over is how we eat.  Of course, reducing the stressors and getting enough sleep is the other critical side of this.  But that’s another post for another time.


Interested in learning  more?  Mamaboost it the program for stressed out mamas who wan to understand what’s going on in their bodies and take control of their energy.  It’s for moms who are ready to REFRAME and RECLAIM their health. Click here to learn more about it 



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