It’s Mental Health Month and Women’s Health Month, so now is the perfect time for busy moms to examine their own mental health. Here’s how to lower the stress no matter how packed your schedule is and encourage the moms in your life to do the same.

The current state of mental health for women

Being a mother was tough even before the COVID-19 pandemic. But the unique conditions brought about by this time created a perfect storm for skyrocketing levels of parental stress and burnout. According to research published in Chronic Stress in 2022, 46% of parents now report ongoing stress levels of at least eight on a 10-point scale. This is reflected in how they parent their children, with long-lasting burnout leading to decreased positive parent-child interactions and an increased risk for neglect, inconsistent parenting decisions, or even violence within the home.

Mental health tips for women

Your specific stressors may vary depending on whether you are a full-time caregiver, work from home, or work outside the home. But regardless of your employment situation, the same basic tips for managing your mental health apply:

  • Connect with other moms. When you’re feeling stressed, knowing that you are not alone can go a long way toward helping to calm your emotions. Seek out other moms at work, find a local parenting group, or join an online forum. Sharing your journey will help you feel heard and validated while providing valuable tips from women who have been there.
  • Make time for adults. This can be especially challenging for mothers at home all day, whether as stay-at-home parents or working from home. You are still the vibrant, interesting adult you were before having kids, but it’s easy to lose that part of yourself. From date night with your significant other to a girls’ night out, make sure you are spending time regularly in the company of other adults.
  • Prioritize self-care. You can’t be your best to others, including your children if you aren’t good to yourself. Self-care activities, such as a hot bath or a good workout session, aren’t selfish. They are essential to helping you be at your best for yourself and everyone who relies on you.
  • Take a mini vacation. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your family is to take time entirely for yourself. If you can swing it, take a two or three-day trip alone or with your significant other, leaving the kids in someone else’s care. Take the opportunity to unplug from work and responsibilities and spend time in nature or pursuing your passions.
  • Care for your body. A healthy diet and regular exercise are essential to both mental and physical health for everyone, including moms. Start paying more attention to your eating habits. Eat a rainbow of fresh produce while limiting empty calories. Get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days and prioritize sleep.

Being a mom isn’t easy; the past few years have created a perfect storm of stressors. But you can start taking steps today to reduce stress and boost your mental health. If you start showing signs of a clinical disorder such as depression or anxiety, reach out to your doctor or another professional for help. Like any illness, mental health conditions are easiest to treat in their earliest stages.