There's no doubt about it, being a mama can be super stressful at times. The worst part is that even though you're stressed, it's not like you have the time to do anything about it. Sure a vacation or spa day might do the trick, but seriously, who has the time (or money) for even an hour-long massage, let alone a mini-vacation? Luckily, there are some smaller, less expensive, naturally relaxing techniques you can try. These ideas are super quick - about 15 minutes or less - meaning any busy mama can fit them into her day.
Give a Massage
Yes, a massage for yourself would be awesome, however, you sure can’t get one in five minutes or less. What you can do is give your child or baby a quick massage a few times a day. I know, it sounds nuts, right? However, research shows that when you massage someone else it initiates a drop in the stress hormone cortisol, which helps calm you down quickly. Bonus, the benefits of even a quick baby or child massage are far reaching. Studies show that massage can result in a more relaxed child, increased bonding, regular sleep patterns and more. A happier, more relaxed and rested child is absolutely a less stressful child for you. If you’ve never experimented with massage, no worries, it’s easy. Most massage experts recommend that child massages last 30 minutes, but research shows that smaller, quicker massage sessions can also be beneficial if you’re short on time. See the links below for advice.
There’s no big secret as to why blowing bubbles relaxes you. Most relaxation techniques focus on breathing exercises, because slower and deeper breathing is proven to have a calming effect. Bubbles are considered so relaxing that many hospitals even advocate bubble blowing for children before they undergo a medical procedure. Bubbles not only fit the relaxation bill but this is something you and your kids can do to chill out together. To make some non-toxic bubble mix, fill a reusable mason jar with about three-parts water to one-part eco-friendly dish soap. Mix gently and then dip a bubble wand into the mixture and blow away. To really benefit have a contest to see who can blow the biggest bubble – this requires that you exhale slowly and carefully, which is more relaxing than blowing fast. If you want to make your own bubble wands, use some thin twisting wire or even dip a recycled spool of thread into your bubble mix – remove all the thread and any paper first. If it’s a sunny day blow bubbles outside, but if it’s miserable, drape an old sheet over your couch and blow away in the living room. It’s just soap!
Accept That Not Everyone Will Like You
One of the hardest parts of being a parent, in my opinion, is the criticism you get from your peers. Seriously, we’re all in this together, yet, those that have judged me the harshest aren’t strangers, but other parents. It starts when you’re pregnant – home birth or hospital, and never ends. From formula feeding vs. breastfeeding to co-sleeping to homeschooling to pink LEGO blocks to silly little things like baby slings or not putting a hat on your baby, other parents will judge your every decision and it can be stressful. Learn now that not everyone will agree with you, or even like your parenting decisions. Come to terms with this and stand up for what you believe in without letting others get to you. When another parent starts in with, “OMG I’d never do…” allow yourself the luxury of tuning out.
Take five minutes and remind yourself about the last time someone gave you a parenting compliment. Think about why you make the decisions you do and consider something great you’ve accomplished with your kids. Maybe you serve healthy meals or buy organic toys. Maybe you’ve managed to clear out plastics or your child made you a “Best mama in the world” card. You have a lot to be proud of, so although it’s hard to ignore mean comments, try to focus on the positive. With practice this gets easier. It sounds over simplistic, but stewing over some other parent’s opinion of you accomplishes nothing and wastes time. Is it really worth it?
Aromatherapy is a proven stress reliever, and it only takes minutes to benefit. Mood lifting essential oils, such as cedarwood, basil, cypress, geranium, and chamomile can help relieve environmental stress – i.e. stress caused by clutter, noise and bright lights. When mental stress, caused by money worries or work problems kick in, try oils such as lavender, grapefruit, cardamom, patchouli, sandalwood and geranium. Emotional stress, caused by relationship troubles, parent guilt, grief and more, may be the hardest stress to overcome, but it can be relieved with essential oils of rose, cardamom, palma rosa, geranium and bergamot. Make sure you buy real, organic essential oils. You can add drops to a small water spritzer and spray around the house, place drops on a tissue and breathe the scent in or place a few drops in the palm of your hand with a tablespoon of carrier oil and rub the oils into your neck. If you’ve never used essential oils before, read this essential oil safety guide and see the link below.
Park & Walk
When your body absorbs sunlight, mood-stabilizing chemicals like serotonin work better. In fact, recent research shows that some sunlight, or even just daylight, can boost your mood better than antidepressants. The problem? Busy lives and stress keep many of us inside more than we should be, which in turn stresses us out, which in turn (again) makes it harder to get motivated to get outside. It’s a vicious cycle. You should make it a long-term goal to work in more outside time, in the form of hiking, walks, bike rides and so fourth. However, right now, you can start to make a small difference simply by parking and walking. If there’s one thing mamas have in bundles, it’s errands. Most of us park close to the store, because frankly, it’s easier to shuffle kids in. Still, if you’re brave enough to park at the end of a parking lot and walk to the store, doctor’s office, wherever, all those moments in the sunshine, or even rain, so long as there’s daylight, start to add up to less stress.
If you jump rope just 15 minutes a day, it’s enough to burn off that de-stressing candy bar you ate. And yes, you can jump rope in 5 minute stints, you don’t have to jump all 15 at once. Jumping rope is one of the least expensive and most effective exercises for a busy mama, especially since kids beyond the baby stage can jump rope too. Exercise of any sort can reduce on-going anxiety and depression and help you sleep better. Beyond long-term fitness benefits, jumping rope also has immediate stress relieving benefits. When you start jumping, your body kicks out endorphins, which triggers positive feelings in your body. Plus, the repetitive motions you experience while jumping rope help you feel more relaxed and focused. Best of all, you don’t need a sunny day to jump rope, just a living room with a couch pushed back.
Lead Image by mancity via sxc.