Friday 16 May 2014

Why I'm taking part in the Stress Less challenge

I've written a few times about the trials and tribulations of becoming a working mum and finding that elusive balance between being mum and being me, but now, things have come to a head.

My life is not that much different to any other mum - we all have our different circumstances, daily routines and little niggles that can get to us at times - but I feel it's starting to have more of an impact on myself and my life than I perhaps realised.

My husband works hard and is away three nights a week, so I do the parenting thing solo for four days. No worries, plenty of women manage it, so I can too. That's my attitude and as is my coping mechanism with everything, I look for the positive and just 'get on with it'. After all, what other choice do I have? Things have to get done, I have to work and Ethan deserves to have the best mum there is. Even if she's a bit frantic at times. End of story.

I like to be busy and don't really know how to relax. Spare moments are spent catching up on my blog writing - one of the few things that I really do do for me and something I enjoy a great deal - or trying to catch up on housework, phone calls, party planning or whatever else is going on at the time. My mind is always buzzing as a result and I have been finding myself getting more strained and anxious.

It's impacting on how I am with Stephen and even with friends and it could also be having an impact on my health. I've been to the doctors recently and they are concerned that my blood pressure has been higher than they would like over the past few readings. It was an issue just before Ethan was born and on the day of his birth and it seems it's not changing now. They asked me to buy a blood pressure monitor and over the next month, I need to take and record daily readings before going back for an assessment.

High blood pressure at 29 isn't ideal and it's the usual culprits that have a part to play - stress, not getting enough exercise, eating too much of the wrong thing...

I've never been and probably never will be a fitness freak but my current lifestyle makes regular exercise even harder (I know, I know, this is the excuse that everyone uses). Some nights, I skip dinner altogether as Ethan has demanded a lot of attention and it's too late by the time he's finally settled to eat anything, or I have been on the road all day for work and have only eaten rubbish or missed meals entirely. 

There's other things on my mind, not necessarily bad things but things I need to do or need to think about. Parties, visiting people, home improvements... the list never really ends does it?

I've been feeling frazzled but it's only now that my doctor has raised a concern that I've taken a step back and realised that perhaps 'coping' isn't enough. Perhaps I need to take some time and look after myself better. Put myself first.


Then, just last week, I saw a blog opportunity pop up in my inbox that really came at just the right time. Aviva, the UK life, health, home and car insurance provider, were looking for people who are feeling stressed to take part in a challenge to help them take the steps they need to have a healthier, happier lifestyle.

It was meant to be.

The good news came a couple of weeks ago that I was one of the lucky people to be selected and I am so grateful for this unique opportunity. I filled in a questionnaire about my lifestyle and the Aviva experts - Dr Doug Wright, Varun Shivdasani (an experienced culinary nutritionist who works with sport stars and Gloucester Rugby coaching staff - have develop my own personalised tips for reducing stress and keeping healthy. 

How fantastic is that?

Here's the advice I have received from the Aviva experts for week one of my challenge - once I have put these into practice, I'll post an update and will let you know what expert advice I receive for the second part of this challenge:

My main work-life balance challenge: fitting it all in

 My main wellbeing challenge: finding it hard to relax
and not spending quality time with my husband

 My main diet challenge: eating badly / infrequently,
particularly when I am busy or on the road for work

This is the first time I've ever been given really useful, practical advice. I find the doctor doesn't go into enough detail and it's just a case of 'one size fits all'. Thanks to Aviva, I have some tools to use that could make a big difference to my well being and I owe it to myself and my family to take this time to make a change. They all seem achievable and the mini cool bag idea is so simple but really think this could help me make a much needed difference to my current lifestyle.

The Aviva Stress Less challenge isn't just something to try half-heartedly. They say: "Armed with our  experts ranging from a doctor, nutritionist and rugby coach, we want to help you achieve a healthier and less stressed you. We want to give you some truly personalised health tips to try for 2 weeks aiming to commit to at least one for a lifetime. A small change for a big health benefit."
I will be taking on board the advice I have been given over the next week or so and will report back to let you know how things are going and the thoughts on the techniques I'm being taught.

After two weeks of doing my best to tackle my stress levels and to take on new, healthier habits, I'll share my (hopeful) success story with you and how I hope to Stress Less in the future.

I'm really excited about this journey and hope you'll enjoy following my progress. There's plenty of tips we can all learn to live by!

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid to take part in this challenge and I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.



  1. Really interesting read. I too am participating in the Stress Less challenge over on my blog. The first year of being a new parent really is tough. I hope the tips give you some release and support a less stressed way of life. Good luck. Looking forward to hearing how we all get on :)

    1. Thanks Donna, nice to hear from you! We all have our little stresses in life but I'm hoping that these expert tips help me to make some small changes that can make a difference. Good luck to you too!


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