As mums we put up with a lot. Some things we can control, some things we can’t.
Some days are good days, and some days are the worst.
Since we can’t alleviate all stress and everything that is causing it, here are some basic day to day ways you can help support yourself and bring some much needed calm and relaxation.
You may not be able to avoid all the stress, but you can get away for just a few minutes to feel less overwhelmed. Giving yourself permission to take a brief “stress break” is often enough to decompress or just give a new perspective.
This can include putting a “do not disturb” sign up on your bedroom door, listening to relaxing music, or enjoying a hot cup of tea without distraction.
Let everyone in your family know it’s OK to walk away until they can get back in control.
There’s a reason flight attendants remind us to put on our oxygen masks first, then on the kids. We can’t take care of our families unless we take time for ourselves, and mums are notorious at putting ourselves on the backburner. Take time for yourself. Make sure to check your stress. After all, a happy, less-stressed mum makes happier, less-stressed kids.
Get up earlier than the kids, even for 20 minutes, and have some time for yourself.
Yes this sounds crazy, especially if you have kids who wake up at the crack of dawn, but by rising before them you are setting yourself up to not be in a reactive state. It means that you set your tone for the rest of the day.
How you spend this time is up to you, but do something that is relaxing (and not involving technology). Read, meditate, pray, journal, exercise, draw, visualise, you choose how you want to start the day.
Create solutions for your “hot” times
Stress mounts at predictable times, such as in the morning when everyone is rushing to get out the door or at that dinner time witching hour. Identify when you are most irritable, and find a simple way to avoid it.
For example, if mornings are stressful because your kids can’t decide what clothes to wear, then get them to choose the night before. If you’re struggling to find your keys either get another set cut, or have a dedicated hook for them.
Deep abdominal breathing, meditation, and prayer are proven to help moderate stress and help the body relax. Best yet, you can also teach the tension-relieving strategies to your kids!
Use slow, deep breaths. Inhale slowly to a count of five, pause for two counts, and then slowly breathe out the same way, again counting to five.
Repeating the sequence creates maximum relaxation.
When you need to de-sress in the moment pause and take a few deep breaths. It will help reduce your stress hormone levels.
If you have trouble meditating then try an app, such as Headspace or Calm.
Research has shown that exercise helps keep stress at bay.
It doesn’t matter what type of exercise, so long as you are moving your body. The trick is finding the type you enjoy. Best yet, find a strategy to do with your kids so everyone benefits.
Try a walk alone, with your kids (maybe go rock hunting or play Pokemon Go), or find another mum to join for a short walk.
Other family exercise ideas include bike rides, a 10 minute spontaneous dance session or Cosmic Yoga.
Essential oils for stress
We can engineer our emotions using smell.
When we inhale a pure essential oil our brain recognises the chemical compounds and sends signals through our body.
The next time you’re stressed put a drop of Balance in your palm, rub your hands together, cup and inhale.
Peppermint on your temples is a great relief for head tension, while Lavender is famous for its sedative effects.
If you are at work, you can have a bottle of essential oil in your desk and take a whiff of it when the stress is too much for you. At home you can use a diffuser.
There are many diffuser blends you can try to calm the farm, or apply to your children when they are about to tear your house down.
We all have five basic needs – physical, emotional, social, spiritual and financial. The truth is we devote so much time to our families, we forget to take time for our social needs, whether it’s our significant other or our girlfriends.
Relationships help reduce our stress and restore balance.
Whenever you’re stressed out, pick up the phone and vent to your bestie. Or, better yet, give your mum a call. It’s said that a problem shared is a problem halved.
Create some fun
Have you noticed how when you laugh you feel so much better?
Laughter is the best form of medicine.
When tensions are high turn on a silly song and dance around the kitchen with your kids. Play a silly game like hide and seek. Have a tickle war. Watch funny YouTube clips.
When you get happy and silly, your mood will improve dramatically.
Listen to music
Music relieves stress.
Classical music has been found to lower blood pressure, slow down your pulse, and reduce stress hormones, as well as increase dopamine.
But other music can also work wonders – think back to a concert where you were in the mosh pit, dancing with friends or performing air guitar. Turn up the tunes if you need to.
Make a Spotify playlist for when you need to unwind.
Which of these will you try next?