Far too often, we as moms, tend to put our own needs last. And then we continue to pour from an empty cup. Dear mom, stop this. Taking a break and taking time for yourself is not selfish. It is necessary.
As moms, we deal with a lot of stress. We wear a lot of hats and we take on a lot, whether we acknowledge that or not. Sometimes we may even have a difficult time saying no. Or, we just may think– we can do it later. I’ll take time for myself later.
But that shouldn’t be the case.
Far too often, we become so worried about who will take care of everyone else; that we may not take care of ourselves.
That needs to change.
Whenever you find yourself getting stressed out, it’s time for a quick stress buster.
Today I have another quick tip to share with you for something you can do anytime or anywhere to relieve tension and stress. It’s as simple as taking a deep breath.
That’s right. The simple act of taking a few deliberate and slow breaths can do you a world of good. It’s relaxing, supplies the body with plenty of fresh oxygen, and relives any tension you have built up.
But it doesn’t stop there. There are so many different ways to utilize the simple act of taking a few breaths to help you relax and release stress.
Get Some Fresh Air
One of my favorite things to do when I feel stressed out and it all gets to be just a little too much, is to head out for a quick walk. Getting out in the fresh air, moving around a little, and simply breathing is a very effective way to release tension, relax, and rejuvenate. You may be worried that it’s a waste of time, especially when you’re on a tight deadline, but trust me and give it a try.
You’ll find yourself coming back from a short walk with a lot more energy and a much clearer mind. You’ll easily make up the time you spent outside and feel better.
Count to Ten Then Breathe
One of the problems with stress is that it has the ability to cause our temper to flare up. It’s hard to be kind and patient when you’re under a lot of pressure. Letting that anger out is hardly ever a productive coping strategy. Instead, walk away and make yourself count to ten slowly, taking deliberate slow breaths along the way.
It may not seem like much, but it gives you the break you need to keep your emotions from boiling over and the anger from flaring up. While it may not do much to treat chronic stress in the long run, it is a quick break for your mind and an effective strategy to calm down quickly.
Try a Breathing Meditation
For better long term results, give breathing meditation a try. It’s been shown to be a very effective treatment for stress that comes with all sorts of good health benefits. Breathing meditations are relatively easy to do and you can try them anywhere. The basic idea is to take a few minutes to sit quietly, with your eyes closed, focusing your mind only on your breath. Feel the air flowing in and out of your nose and avoid thinking of anything else. It’s very effective once you get the hang of it. It does take practice, but I encourage you to try it, starting today.
You’re busy, I get it. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to get it all done. Who has time to relax and just take it easy for a while aside from the weekly vacation once a year? Even then, we tend to cram as many activity into that well deserved time off… but I digress. My point is that we are overworked and aren’t taking enough time to relax and recharge.
We simply feel that there isn’t enough time for it and that’s starting to become a big problem.
We work long hours each day. And, let’s face it, as a stay at home mom? We may feel like we’re on call 24 hours a day.
Not only that, but we’re expected to concentrate harder, focus more, and get more done in those hours than ever before. We are expected to learn fast and are bombarded with new information at record speed. Thanks to mobile devices and the internet we’re always reachable and always connected. Our minds are engaged and going strong from the moment we wake up to the moment our head finally hits the pillow.
What we don’t get is a lot of rest and relaxation.
This lack of rest and relaxation can quickly become a problem. We’re not built to run wide open for 18 hours a day or more. Yes, we can do it for a short amount of time when needed, but it’s not a sustainable, long-term strategy. Without adequate rest and taking the time to relax, we become less productive and less creative. That’s right, making the time to relax will help you get more done and do better work in the long run.
Let’s look at an example. If you’re a parent of young children, you know that you’re not at your best if you’ve been up with a sick child for a few days. Without a chance to relax and let down your guard, you get anxious and short tempered. It’s hard to be the same patient and loving parent that you usually are.
While this may be an extreme example, it holds true in all areas of your life. You need time to recharge to continue to do your best.
When is the last time you took a few hours just to relax? Make the time for it, especially when you’re extra busy and have a lot to get done. Even a short break to go for a walk, take a quick nap, or lose yourself in a good book or movie for a bit will do wonders for both your frame of mind and your overall productivity. You’ll come back rejuvenated and with a clearer mind. Your productivity increases greatly after a break and some rest, particularly if you’ve been working too hard.
Make rest and relaxation a priority in your life. You deserve it!
It’s time for another quick stress buster tip. This time around, my suggestion is that you go out there and take a walk.
This is probably nothing new today, but let me ask you this: How often do you actually go out for a walk when you’re feeling stressed or need to recharge? My guess is that it doesn’t happen all that often, which is why it’s important to bring it up and talk about it today.
There are a lot of benefits to talking a walk. It’s easy to do, you can head out and get in a quick ten minute walk no matter where you are and you don’t need any special equipment. You can walk inside, but it will be even more beneficial if you head outside. The fresh air and sunlight will increase the benefits you’re getting from your walk.
Talking a walk works on so many different levels. The first is that it gives you a chance to get away from whatever it is you are doing for a few minutes. You’re literally walking away from it for a bit. This allows you to come back to it with a fresh mind and a fresh perspective when you get back. This does wonders when you’re feeling stuck, are working on a tough problem, or simply need some fresh eyes to catch a few spelling errors.
It also gives your mind a break from whatever it is you were working on. You get to focus on simply moving your body and admiring your surroundings outside for a little while. Often when we take a break from thinking consciously about what we’re working on, our unconscious mind takes over and comes up with ideas and solutions our conscious mind couldn’t find. Stopping work for a bit and allowing the subconscious to take over is often what brings that big breakthrough you’ve been hoping for.
The rhythmic act of walking helps this process along.
Walking also happens to be form of low impact exercise you can do anytime, anywhere. It gets you moving, helps release tension in your muscles, pump more blood through your body, and thus more oxygen into your cells. When you walk outside in the fresh air, this rejuvenating effect is of course amplified. It’s also part of the reason a quick walk helps re-energize you and makes you feel better.
Give it a try the next time you need a little break. Head outside or a quick walk instead of grabbing a coffee and a sugary treat.
Whenever you fly on an airplane, you have to go through a safety presentation before take-off. This used to consist of the flight attendants demonstrating the use of seat belts, and reviewing emergency information, but these days, it’s often presented as a video on your personal screen. At one point in the presentation, the use of air masks is demonstrated and it always strikes me that it has to be pointed out to mothers to put their own masks on before assisting their children.
Why am I mentioning this? Because it’s a powerful reminder that we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of everyone else.
Mothers in particular are guilty of not doing this far too often.
It’s easy to take care of everyone else around you and forget about yourself. We are taught from an early age to put ourselves last when it comes to self-care. This is particularly true for women. Yes, there are times when others have to come first. Your newborn doesn’t have a choice and you’ll be sacrificing a lot of time, sleep, and energy in those first few weeks and months. But that’s temporary and if you ever forget what a toll failing to take care of yourself can take, think back on those crazy first few months after bringing your baby home.
The vast majority of our time, taking care of everyone else before ourselves is a choice we make, and one I want you to become more aware of. We don’t always intentionally put ourselves last. It’s just a habit we’ve gotten into and it’s time to break it. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you need to put yourself first all the time. All I’m saying is that when you do, it should be a conscious choice.
I’m also here to tell you that it’s okay and necessary to take care of yourself first at times. The consequences of always putting yourself last are just too costly. More often than not, when you put yourself last, there’s nothing left over. Over time that means you’re not the best parent, partner, co-worker, friend, etc. you can be.
It feels good to put ourselves last, but when we routinely do it, we’re doing more harm than good to those around us. It causes us to be stressed and exhausted. Starting today, make an effort to carve out some “me-time”. Do something for yourself, even if it’s just enjoying a quiet cup of coffee alone, or catching an extra 20 minutes of precious sleep. It’s well worth investing time in yourself.
Do so more often and see for yourself how powerful the impact can be.
Let’s close this out with one more quick stress buster! Remember that these are short, actionable strategies you can implement right away. The best approach is to try these stress busters as soon as you read them. Take note of the ones that work well for you and deploy them whenever you need that extra bit of relaxation on the spot. It’s one of the best ways to reduce stress overall.
This quick stress busting tip is to give meditation a try.
I’m sure you’ve heard of meditation, but have you actually tried it? It’s a lot simpler than you may think. One of my favorite things about meditation is that once you get a little practice, it’s easy to do anytime, anywhere. There’s no particular amount of time you have to invest to reap the rewards. Even a 30 second meditation when you’re in a high stress situation can be quite beneficial, however, you’ll get the most relaxation and stress reduction from meditating if you make it part of your daily routine.
There are many different types of meditations you can explore. An easy place to start is either guided meditations or breathing meditations.
For guided meditation I suggest you get an app like Calm or Headspace on your smart phone. Both have free daily guided meditations you can use to give it a try. Each app also has a paid option for even more meditation practices. This may be a good option for you if you enjoy the daily practice of this type of meditation. The meditations will gradually get longer and more intense. Think of it as a meditation training program.
The other type of meditation you should try is breathing meditation. It’s my favorite because it so flexible and something you can do anytime anywhere after you learn the basics. To begin with, sit down comfortable in a quiet space. While you do your first few practices, you want to cut out as many distractions as possible. Close your eyes and focus your entire mind on your breath. Pay attention to how the air feels flowing in and out of your nose. Or focus on the rising and falling of your abdomen as you breathe. The idea is to tune out everything else and only think about and feel your breath.
Other thoughts will pop into your head. When that happens, gently bring your focus back to your breath. Start by meditating this way for five minutes per day and gradually work your way up to a level you’re comfortable with. Make it a daily habit and also do it for 30 seconds or a minute or two whenever you find yourself in a tense and stressful situation.