Life for a mom can be stressful. You’re chasing homework assignments, hauling kids to daycare and after-school activities, planning meals and packing lunches. If you are a working mom juggling the demands of a career along with the needs of your children, life may be even more chaotic. There are other stresses too, such as burgeoning financial struggles, aging parents and a changing body. All these demands can take a huge toll on you, ranging from anxiety to depression to feelings that you and your needs come last. So, what can help you deal with the stress?
Understand the Pros and Cons of Nootropics
In a time when there is a pharmaceutical option for almost anything, it’s tempting to consider popping a pill to improve you moods, memory, cognition and stamina. But before you do, know there may be downsides and side effects that come with these pills, referred to as nootropics. Research shows that such cognitive-enhancing medicines might not be all they are cracked up to be.
Nootropics aren’t new. Such drugs are more commonly known under other names, such as caffeine, ginko biloba, amphetamines (such as Adderall), Provagil (also known as Modafinil) and nicotine. In most cases, the research for improving cognitive function with these substances is mixed or not evident, according to Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. Many help keep you alert, but they also can cause cognitive deficits, especially in higher doses. In particular, Modafinil has received a lot of press as the perfect pick-me-up drug. However, new research shows that healthy people on the drug had slower reaction times, an impaired ability to answer questions creatively and an impaired ability to form sentences. The drug works best for people who have impaired cognitive function to begin with, but 90 percent of people who take it are healthy and not impaired, states Live Science. So, this is probably not the best solution for a busy mom trying to manage the demands of raising a family.
Opt for a Healthy Diet and Exercise
Exercise may be the best solution for being able to function all day after having to get up several times a night with a crying baby or juggling your day job with your second job at home. According to the CDC, the benefits of exercise are clear. Exercise controls your weight, reduces your risk of cancer, improves your mood and helps you live longer. Research from Quartz shows that exercise also improves memory, decreases stress and improves attention span, all without needing to put a drug into your body. There’s evidence that regular exercise throughout your life, even light exercise, improves your chance of warding off dementia.
To make exercise work optimally for your body, you need to provide it with the right nutrients. Without proper nutrition, stress depletes the body, spikes it with adrenaline and eventually leaves you robbed of energy. Stress also tends to make you reach for unhealthy foods, such as those high in fat or sugar. This perpetuates the cycle with empty calories. To incorporate exercise and nutrition into your life, here are a few simple strategies:
- Start small. Even a half hour walk a couple times a week can be of benefit.
- Supplement what you eat. Consider foods that balance protein, carbs and fats with easy recipes and on-the-go products. If you're not getting enough nutrients, take a vitamin or supplement to help.
- Limit your caffeine intake. Too much caffeine leads your body to crash.
- Don’t skip meals. This has been shown to increase your calorie intake and make your feel sluggish. It’s tempting to reach for more caffeine or a drug, but the simple answer is to have a healthy snack in addition to consistently eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.