They say it takes a village to rear children and usually that “village” is a stressed out mom attempting to balance her career, caregiving responsibilities, and sanity simultaneously.
This becomes especially taxing when attempting to tackle the aforementioned in the eye of a tornado of screaming children. Sometimes there isn’t enough wine and fizzy bath bombs in the world to help alleviate the stress that comes with balancing the responsibilities many working mothers take on happily at the expense of their physical and mental well-being.
Research comes to the rescue of bewildered moms worldwide by claiming moderate exercise to be essential to keeping calm in the midst of holding your entire household together.
A study looking at the results of 200 working mothers engaged in moderate exercise for one week held a promising key to moms looking to unlock some peace of mind while staying on top of managing their home life, work life, and the continued education and advancement of their kids in a new more challenging remote educator role.
The case study
This study was conducted back in April and scientists took a sample of 200 working mothers with a median age of about 33 years old with at least one child below the age of 5 they spent 50 percent of their time together, and a full-time workload of 30 or more hours a week. The following criteria made this sample eligible for full-time working mother status and research took into account whether they were forced to stay home entirely post pandemic, excluding essential workers from this study not burdened with the extra work and caregiving responsibilities faced with those forced to be a constant nurturing presence in the home.
Essential workers are burdened with a different kind of responsibility. They have an obligation to really keep their child’s safety in mind when it comes to the occupational hazards of being forced to be around large groups in public to carry out work responsibilities. Once scientists found the group of working mother’s they had them partake in the experiment of engaging in moderate exercise for a week, logging their progress as the week went on.
Authors of the study Christine A. Limbers, Christina McCollum, and Emma Greenwood found that mothers who engaged in more physical activity during the week reported lower levels of stress. One of the authors from the study adds, “Greater levels of moderate intensity physical activity attenuated the link between parenting stress and social/environmental quality of life. In other words, greater levels of moderate intensity physical activity appeared to reduce the negative impact of parenting stress on satisfaction with one’s personal relationships, satisfaction with one’s sex life, and satisfaction with the conditions of one’s physical environment and living place.”
The full study can be found here.
The positive effects physical exercise has on how we can regulate our emotions to handle stressful situations with aplomb is undeniable. The data remains undisputed and we all know engaging in physical activity, especially ones that incorporate mindfulness like yoga, the better conditioned we are to take on our problems head on with ease. Why is that? The Anxiety and Depression Association of America released this statement on the amazing benefits gleaned from an active lifestyle.
“Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Meditation, acupuncture, massage therapy, even breathing deeply can cause your body to produce endorphins. And conventional wisdom holds that a workout of low to moderate intensity makes you feel energized and healthy.Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects.”
Stay active for the betterment of your mental and home state
Getting in your steps for the week not only improves your own physical and mental well-being but it facilitates a healthier, less stressful environment at home for the whole family. This pandemic has forced parents to take on all sorts of extra responsibilities, adjusting to both parent and teacher roles while trying to provide a fun carefree environment for your kids missing friends and playdates is challenging to say the least. The good news is that spending just 15 minutes a day actively engaging in walking or cycling can vastly improve your whole family’s quality of life through relieving the stress of wearing several hats and filling many roles to aid in your child’s development while maintaining the life you worked so hard to build before.
One author, Christine A. Limbers, who is a working mother herself, adds this sentiment highlighting the importance of walking off the stress at the end of your work day in a recent brief.
“There is already extensive research documenting the benefits of exercise on physical and emotional health. Our study demonstrated that moderate intensity physical activity in working mothers may attenuate the negative impact of parenting stress on social relationships and satisfaction with one’s environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.”