Carve out “me time”…Make time for you every day. Many do not have the luxury of a lot of extra time to devote to their personal wellness on a daily basis, but even 5 minutes can change your life and your perception of stress. Find at least 5 minutes daily to tend to you in a way that is nourishing, whether it be sitting outside, focused breathing, doing something kind for yourself such as rubbing oil on your hands and feet, drinking tea or coffee, or just enjoying the sunshine will help you feel more “full” and tended to on a regular basis.
With all that’s going on in our country, our economy, the world, and on social media, it feels like so many of us are under a great deal of stress. Parenting, in particular, can be stress-inducing. We know chronic stress can be as unhealthy as smoking a quarter of a pack a day. It is also challenging to be a present parent when your relationship is under stress. What are stress management strategies that parents use to become “Stress-Proof? What are some great tweaks, hacks, and tips that help reduce or even eliminate stress? In this interview series, we are talking to authors, parenting experts, business and civic leaders, and mental health experts who can share their strategies for reducing or eliminating stress. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Holly Swenson.
Holly Swenson, BSN, RN is an author, wellness blogger, mother to four incredible sons (she lovingly refers to as her gurus), and a perpetual student of life. She is on a mission to bring more joy, intention, balance, and wellness to parenting and beyond. She believes learning how to tend to “you” before tackling life’s asks and demands is the key to opening the door to effective stress management.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!
Getting from “there to here” has been quite a journey! Life for everyone unfolds a little differently and for me has been a rich learning experience throughout my whole life. I am a girl raised in the mountains, lover of flowers, travel, yoga, wild places, gardening, beautiful food shared with friends and family, believer in kindness and intentional living, mother of four sons, a devoted wife, and an author on the rise. I am formally trained as a BSN, RN, but haven’t worked in the hospital since our twins were born, as I turned my focus inward on family after their arrival. Over the years I have served on various boards. I currently work part time at Bank of Montana as a community and business development officer, am a wellness blogger, and I have written my first book which will launch in September of this year. My book, Stop, Drop, Grow, & Glow, will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, eBook, Audible, and Faraway Voices on September 12, 2023. I am so excited to share my work with the world. This project has been so meaningful for me and I know it will help parents around the world find more wellness, joy, and grace on their parenting journey. Helping others in this way is a big calling for me personally.
What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?
A deep lesson I would love to share with my younger self is to greet every day as though it was my first. To wake up and see the world with fresh eyes, through a beautiful new lens daily. This practice helps me let go of what does not serve me and allows stress to simply fall away. When you “forget” to carry your stress, it stops having a hold on you.
None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?
My husband. He has been my rock and supporter of me and my work since day one. He is my other half and truly helps me manage our family life and supports me in any direction I choose to pursue. His support, love, loyalty, and dedication to who I am and the work I am bringing into the world is so affirming and uplifting to me as a woman and author. I have so much gratitude for this man.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?
I have written a book titled Stop, Drop, Grow, & Glow, launching September 12, 2023, which is rooted in conscious parenting. It really provides a beautiful and practical framework for parents to show up for themselves and their children in a much more intentional and graceful way. I can’t wait to share it with you and all parents who are responsible for shaping this next generation!
Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about stress. How would you define stress?
Stress is how one ingests the world and life’s asks and then how they deal with it. No two people will feel or respond to stress the same way. Stress is part of the human path. None of us are immune to stress.
In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. So what has led to this chronic stress? Why are so many of us always stressed out?
Chronic stress stems from one’s inability to control their mind, breathing, and reaction vs. response to life’s constant unfolding. When you can start to get in touch with these things in a more intentional way, perceived or real obstacles will start to shift in your life. So many are always feeling stressed because they haven’t cultivated healthy ways to cope with stress. The key is in how you perceive and respond to what is in front of you at any given moment. With practice, you begin to control the stress in your life, so the stress isn’t controlling you. Think on that one.
What are some of the physical manifestations of being under a lot of stress? How does the human body react to stress?
There can be a boat load of physical manifestations one can develop from being under a lot of stress. Fatigue, weakened immune system, exhaustion, high blood pressure, digestive issues, and muscle tension are some of the ways the body manifests stress. These are all taxing on the body. If these symptoms are left untreated, it can lead to more serious consequences such as depression, panic attacks, overeating, etc.
Is stress necessarily a bad thing? Can stress ever be good for us?
Stress can be an ally and teacher if you allow it to be. Not all stress is bad, in fact it can be what helps to keep you alive and evolving on the life continuum. Stress is a part of life; it serves a purpose, and it’s something that shouldn’t be written off or completely erased. When you start to feel stress rising in your body, it is important to pause, scan, and reflect on the root cause. When you can identify triggers, start to make those triggers a friend and learn from them. Where you feel the most tension and stress in life is often where you require the most growth. This is powerful.
Is there a difference between being in a short-term stressful situation versus an ongoing stress? Are there long-term ramifications to living in a constant state of stress?
Absolutely! With short-term stress you see the light at the end of the tunnel and this likely feels more manageable mentally and physically. It doesn’t mean short-term stress is easy to deal with, but it likely feels easier to cope with. With long-term stress, such as being a parent and having years of intense work in front of you, you need to learn to pace yourself and tend to your own heart along the way. When you don’t make time for self-care, intentional living, and awareness to stress and your reaction or response to stress, it can lead to feelings of burn-out, and a myriad of health conditions, such as hypertension, heart disease, increased risk of stroke, anxiety, depression, and obesity, as well as put strain on relationships in your life. These are all serious ramifications and can impact your life on a deep level if left un-tended.
Let’s now focus more on the stress of parenting. This feels intuitive, but it is helpful to spell it out in order to address it. Can you help articulate why being a parent can be so stressful?
Being a parent can be so stressful because there are no days off. There is no rest and reset for most and for this reason it is hard to pull yourself out of the stress-zone at times. Operating from a base of stress can become a habit if you are not careful. There is an underlying rawness because there isn’t time to fully take a break, step away, reflect, and breathe. Especially for parents with multiple children, the stress is multiplied.
Can you help spell out some of the problems that come with being a stressed parent?
When you are showing up for your child in a stressed-out state, living in high stress is being modeled to your child(ren). Being in a state of distress, stemming from stress, energetically transfers to your child and immediate family members and they feel those emotions and internalize them. They can start to mirror similar emotions whether this is a chronic condition coming from mom or dad. It is important to check yourself, your attitude, and personal wellness before you step into situations with those you love the most. When you learn how to regulate your reaction to life’s requests and demands in a softer and more gentle way, your every day will be a better place to land for you and your child.
Here is the main question of our interview: Can you share with our readers your “5 stress management strategies that parents can use to remove some of the stress of parenting?”
- Awareness/Intention…Being intentional as a parent is huge. When you come to a place in life where you’ve put time into unearthing why you are doing what you are doing, doors will start to open. When you have an awareness of how you talk to your child, how you tend to yourself, how you are showing up every day you can really start to grow and get a handle on your stress. I have started being much more intentional in my life and it has made a tremendous impact in a positive direction. I feel more aware and in more partnership with myself on how I step into situations with others.
- Slow your transitions…Slowing transitions has been a tough lesson for me to learn as a mom, but I am really starting to get the hang of it and loving the shifts in my life. Slowing transitions allows for you to find more ease and grace in everyday life. For example, I have added more buffer time for changing activities so I am not rushing. I also try to schedule appointments for myself and my children at times that make sense and do not cause unnecessary stress. Allowing wiggle room and a deep breath between activities will help stress melt away.
- Carve out “me time”…Make time for you every day. Many do not have the luxury of a lot of extra time to devote to their personal wellness on a daily basis, but even 5 minutes can change your life and your perception of stress. Find at least 5 minutes daily to tend to you in a way that is nourishing, whether it be sitting outside, focused breathing, doing something kind for yourself such as rubbing oil on your hands and feet, drinking tea or coffee, or just enjoying the sunshine will help you feel more “full” and tended to on a regular basis.
- Laughter…Laughter will lighten your load and your response to stress. When you can infuse humor into the madness of child rearing it will make your job more fun and more light-hearted. Make time to laugh and teach your children to giggle along the way as well. Turn grumpy moments into moments that bring a smile. Watch a funny movie with your child and enjoy the light-heartedness and silliness of something on screen, tell a joke, and add humor to your life as much as possible. Laughter is indeed good medicine and can be a tremendous ally in alleviating stress.
- Meditation…The big M. I am a true believer in daily meditation. Meditation has much more focus and attention now than ever before, which is fantastic! With a daily meditation practice you honor yourself and carve out sacred time to renew and reset for you and for all you come in contact with. I try to sit daily and tend to my own heart and well-being and have found this practice to be uplifting, grounding, and rejuvenating for the big asks in my life. You can do this sitting, in between drop-of and pick-up from school in your car, walking, or any way that serves you best. Everyone has a different feel for what this looks like in their life. Do some exploration and tap into stillness, it will de-stress your life in incredible ways.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?
I have listened to Deepak Chopra for years and love his work and the platform he operates from. I have enjoyed the app Calm for meditation inspiration, and recently have started following Dr. Becky, author of Good Inside on Instagram and really enjoy her offerings for parents.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement I am fully immersed in right now is conscious parenting and bringing more awareness to this method and mindset. When parents learn how to parent with more intention, love, joy, balance, and wellness these healthier habits get passed on to their child(ren). What a gift to their family and ultimately the world. You can learn more by reading my book, which provides a framework to help you start thriving and finding more joy as a parent.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
You can keep tabs on my work by visiting: www.liveyourglow.live
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.