It’s Monday morning, and you are late taking the kids to school. You can’t find your keys under the stack of unread mail on the dining room table, and you have yet to prepare for the conference call you have at 10:00 AM. Juggling between work, family, and other personal obligations, parents deal with a lot of stress every day. The never ending, to-do list of dishes, laundry, carpool, work and dinner can feel impossible and overwhelming at times, leading to parental stress. If you feel constantly pulled in a million different directions, here are a few relaxation methods to help busy parents relax and manage stress better.
Get Up Early
Whether it is getting up an hour earlier or just five minutes, set some time aside for yourself before the day begins. Before making breakfast, waking the kids up for school, and feeding the dog, take a deep breath and enjoy a few extra minutes to yourself. Pour a nice warm cup of coffee or tea and gather your thoughts. When you allow yourself a little extra time in the morning, it can make a huge impact on how the rest of your day is going to pan out. Deliberately allocating time for yourself is one of the best ways to relax your mind and body to alleviate some parental stress.
Exercise is not everyone’s favorite activity to relax, but it’s a beneficial one. There is growing research that exercise can reduce stress, even if it is just a 10-minute workout routine at home. Getting your heart pumping and blood flowing can do wonders for a heightened stress level. And you can even find ways to incorporate your family into your exercise routine. Find the time for you and your partner to hit the gym or take the kids for a walk around the block. Whatever it is, any sort of physical activity can produce endorphins that act as natural painkillers in the brain. This can help improve your mood and ability to sleep, making you feel relaxed even the next day. Exercising can also make you feel better about yourself, boosting your confidence and ability to tackle the day.
Take a Deep Breath
As simple as this may sound, taking one to three deep breaths when you feel like you are about to explode allows parents a chance to regroup before they become too overwhelmed. Breathing is one thing that you can control in your busy day, so take advantage of it. Use slow deep breaths to release any tension you may be feeling. Dr. Andrew Weil believes “practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.” He recommends three breathing techniques to help reduce stress and anxiety levels: The Stimulating Breath, the 4-7-8 exercise, and breath counting. So, next time you are late to pick the kids up from practice or forget to put dinner in the oven, take a few minutes to try one of these exercises and see how you feel.
Write it Down
As a busy parent, you likely often wake up with an abundance of things to do and a million things on your mind. One way to cope with this chaos and parental stress is to make a list. Writing down all the things you need to do that day allows the opportunity to feel more organized in a way that can help you prioritize visually. It also feels great to check things off that list making you feel more accomplished as the day goes on. Writing down the instances throughout the day that stresses you out can also help alleviate anxiety. Dr. Sarah Edelman, a clinical psychologist and author of Change Your Thinking (ABC Books), believes writing down your worries and saying you will come back to them at another time is a simple psychological trick that will help you forget about them for the time being. Commit to things that you know you can handle now and come back to the rest at another time.
Set Smaller Goals
It’s easy for parents to get caught up in being the best. And the truth is, it is impossible to be perfect. Instead of stressing yourself out by being head of the PTA or soccer coach for your child’s team, start first by making smaller goals for yourself. If you are stressed out about making breakfast again, set a new goal: “I will go in the kitchen and start a pot of coffee.” Mary LoVerde, a work-life balance expert, says taking “microactions” like these can help us more calmly approach overwhelming tasks. As small as these goals may seem, they can be influential in helping you get through the task at hand. Taking smaller steps can make it easier for one to reach their overall goal.
Head to the Sauna
Don’t have enough time to enjoy a day at the spa? Head to the sauna. Not only do saunas reduce stress, but they also cleanse skin, induce a deeper sleep and help relax muscles soothing any aches/pains. And these are only a few of the many health benefits of sweating it out. We suggest at least 20 minutes in the sauna daily to help alleviate stress and tension. Infrared saunas use less steam and fewer intense heat settings than a traditional sauna, helping to create a more comfortable experience. The infrared sauna also detoxifies your body much more efficiently than traditional saunas. A few minutes of your day is all you need to leave your body feeling revived and relaxed.
Take a Day Off
You deserve it. Grab lunch with friends or plan a night out on the town. Either way, some time off from the kids and spouse can distance you from the daily routine and allow your mind time to unwind. Getting out of the house will help you relax and think about other things than those dirty dishes in the sink. Finding time to take off may be hard, but it is well worth it. So, get out that calendar and start planning. Your way toward less parental stress.