With the kids around 24/7 and lack of personal space, how many of us have volunteered to go to the shops for some alone time or sent our partners off with the kids so we can clean in peace. But, if you’re looking at unwinding without having to run errands or a bubble bath, here are a few guilt-free ways to relax that’s actually do-able.
Catch some exercise endorphins
Even brief bursts of exercise can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, research has found. Try find ways to fit in some exercise throughout the day, even if it means a 5-minute burst of skipping in your backyard or running up and down some stairs. Of course, you can also try High-Intensity Interval Training (HITT) which combines intense bursts of movement with very short duration, making them great for those times when you can only get away for a few minutes. HIIT workouts are available for free on many online platforms.
Like us, we know you’re hiding in the bathroom for some peace and quiet at least once a day, so you may as well practise some deep breathing while you’re there. Deep breathing exercises have been shown to lower stress, reduce fight-or-flight responses, and encourage deeper relaxation, which is really what we all need these days.
So, the days of uninterrupted silence is a goner, but you don’t have to sit for 20 minutes to get the same great relaxation benefits. If you have a smartphone, check out mindfulness apps such as eMindful and Happify. These have little exercises and games you can tap into whenever you have a moment to reset. Sneaking in a few minutes at a time can really be impactful.
Inhale a pleasant scent
We love this tip from Amber Duncan, an aromatherapist in Ohio in the USA. She relies on scent to deal with her own daily stress, which involves three kids under the age of 6. She carries four or five different aromatherapy inhalers in her purse, which depending on her mood, she whips out when she needs to recharge. Her favourites are: holy basil (to wake yourself up); spearmint (to clear a foggy brain); frankincense (to ease anxiety); lavender (to centre herself when she’s frazzled).
Escape into a book
Research has found that silent reading slows your heart rate and reduces muscle tension within six minutes. This is one of the reasons why it’s so good to get into the habit of reading a few pages of a good book before your turn out the light at night.
Colour yourself calm
Filling or colouring in a pattern can ease anxiety more than drawing on a blank page, so get a geometric colouring book, suggests Donna Betts, president of the American Art Therapy Association.
Connect with nature through music
Download and play some nature-inspired music. Put on your headphones, close your eyes, lie down and cover your eyes with an eye mask or even better, an eye pillow that’s been warmed in the microwave, suggests Judi Bar, yoga program manager at the Cleveland Wellness Institute in the USA. Focus on listening to individual sounds in the background for 3 to 5minutes.
We know it’s not easy moms but this is the most important stress reliever of them all. Really focusing on getting a good night’s sleep is going to be the most important thing you can do to maintain mental calm while everything else is chaos. Try getting as active as possible toward the end of the day – even if it’s a game of catch with the kids. And have a sleep schedule in place – same as with the kids. If you’re not sleeping well, look online or ask your doc for some additional good-sleep strategies.
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.