From the moment our first child springs from our loins, we moms are on the job 24/7. Our lives become an endless—often overwhelming—series of feedings, changings, cuddling, boo-boo kissing, carpooling, reading, teaching, volunteering, cheerleading, championing, encouraging and reprimanding. Our lives are filled with quiet moments of joy tucked in between infant wailing, toddler tantrums, preteen pique and teenage angst. Because we are so busy taking care of everyone else—those 185-pound middle-aged children we call our spouses included—we often forget to take care of ourselves.
The stress of being a mom can be insidious – and can affect our health and well-being without us being aware of it – which is why it’s so important to find ways to decompress. But how? Here are 7 relaxation tips to come to your rescue:
- Start Small. Mothers are overextended, with little or no free time. But you don’t have to book a spa weekend or a trip to the wine country to gain a little relaxation. Five minutes of alone-time—a “mommy time out”—can do wonders for your overall sense of peace and can change the course of your day for the better. Make it a game with your kids. Offer them a reward for five minutes of uninterrupted time. Go into your room and close the door. Listen to your favorite song. Read an article in that magazine you bought two weeks ago but haven’t yet perused. Write a note to a friend. Stare at the ceiling.
- Take a Breath. Deep breathing oxygenates our bodies and brains and helps to center us, giving us focus and energy, and a few deep breaths only take a moment of our time. Deep breathing can also be helpful in times of conflict with our children. When you find yourself raising your voice, stop and take a breath, then another—in through the nose and out through the mouth on a sound. Include your children. Have them breathe with you. When I do this with my kids, more often than not, we end up laughing, which diffuses the tension and allows us to work through the difficulty in a positive manner.
- Shake Your Groove Thing. I am no Paula Abdul. But when I blast Andy Grammar from my Big Jambone and boogie around the kitchen for three and a half minutes, the endorphins that burst through my system make me feel like I could win Dancing with the Stars. My kids roll their eyes and whisper “Geek” to each other, but when they see how much fun I’m having, they end up joining in.
- Pamper Yourself. It’s okay. I promise. You deserve it. A mani-pedi, a massage, a facial—these things take only an hour, but the benefits of participating in an activity that is solely about your comfort can last for days.
- Get Outside. Fresh air? What’s that? Well, it’s something that improves your digestion, cleans your lungs, strengthens your immune system, sharpens your mind and—yes—makes you happier. Fresh air increases the amount of serotonin in your bloodstream, and serotonin is like happy juice. Prune a tree. Wash your car. Find cloud animals.
- Get a Hobby. When you are completely immersed in a pastime you enjoy, your mind gets a break from tension and anxiety because you are focused on something completely unrelated to that which causes your stress. Also, your subconscious is allowed to work out problems without the interruption of your crazy, controlling conscious thoughts. I just took up knitting. My scarf won’t win any prizes at the Fair, but it has provided me with hours of relaxation, and I can do it anywhere, with or without my kids present.
- Give Yourself Permission. The. Most. Important. Thing. Because we are pulled in so many directions at once, and because we put our families first, we moms rarely prioritize our own needs. In order to function to our fullest potential, we must make sure we are healthy and strong—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Making a commitment to relax and rejuvenate, finding the time to be who we are as women, caring for ourselves and giving ourselves the breaks we need, all of these things go a long way toward helping us be the best wives and mothers we can be. And in the long run, our husbands and children will reap the benefits as much, if not more, than we do.
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