Five Stress Relievers for the Modern Mom

Even though a pandemic tosses us all for a stress loop, I wanted to research more ways to deal with my everyday stresses. Ideas that can last for time to come and ways that are actually achievable with my busy life. I want simple ways to reduce stress. I call them Soul Fuels. My soul gets recharged and ready for what’s next. Here are my findings!

Nature

Well duh. If you are a regular around here you know I’ve been exploring all the state parks here in Connecticut, so this isn’t new to me. The interesting part is that research shows that even ten minutes in nature has benefits for your mental health. Only ten minutes! That’s good to know for myself and my children. Shove them outside for ten minutes and I’ll feel like the best mom 🙂 This doesn’t need to be anything exhausting or time consuming; sitting outside or taking a ten minute walk is all you need for a quick reset.

Cornell University. (2020, February 25). Spending time in nature reduces stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 25, 2021 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200225164210.htm

Flowers

After reading about this research I decided to have flowers delivered weekly to myself until my garden is in full swing. Post pandemic I’ll be visiting flower shops. Flowers in your home make you happy and reduce stress, providing moments of calm. Stop and smell the roses is a true saying!

This goes along with Nature above, having an environment of natural elements is good for you. I’ve always been a fan of drying out flowers and hanging them around my house. Not sure if that has the same effect so I’m going with fresh flowers for now. I’ll report back on my stress levels 🙂

Had trouble finding the research paper but read the press release and the many articles written about the research: https://safnow.org/aboutflowers/quick-links/health-benefits-research/stressless/

Hugs

I told you I’m finding simple ways to reduce stress, doesn’t get much simpler than hugging! Pandemic life has drastically reduced my levels of hugging but that doesn’t mean I can’t hug the people who live with me. I know physical touch for our children is important for their mental health, now we know even a simple hug has benefits for us all. Since my children are getting older and aren’t as touchy-feely as their younger days I have to purposely and intentionally make time for hugs. It’s worth it 🙂 You are never too busy to hug your family.

Murphy MLM, Janicki-Deverts D, Cohen S (2018) Receiving a hug is associated with the attenuation of negative mood that occurs on days with interpersonal conflict. PLoS ONE 13(10): e0203522. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203522https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203522

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Now I’m sure you all, same as me, have told your kids, “take a deep breath,” to help them regulate themselves during a temper tantrum, but what I didn’t know was I wasn’t teaching them the correct way to do it. Chest breathing is what I was showing them. Pandemic life has taught me the error of my ways, no to deep chest breathing, yes to deep diaphragm breathing and boy does it work so much better.

I’ve been doing this for a couple of months and have been successfully able to calm myself down within minutes. I take a deep breath in for a count of four, expanding my tummy, not my chest, holding it for a count of four and then breathing it all out for a count of eight. While exhaling I try to do it to a humming sound, as quietly as possible. The concentration keeps my mind on task. When I injured my knee while skiing I imagined by breathing out blowing the pain out of my knee. Calmed me in moments. Miraculous.

Ma X., Yue Z.Q., Gong Z.Q. The effect of diaphragmatic breathing on attention, negative affect and stress in healthy adults. Front Psychol. 2017;8:874. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455070/

Strike a Yoga Pose

But strike a meditative yoga pose while doing your diaphragm breathing. Interesting to read how meditative yoga has a better benefit to reducing stress than power yoga, which focuses more on strength versus relaxation. Yoga studies that correlate yoga practice with decreased stress levels show the meditation and slow breathing is what helps in times of stress.

Here is a quick article going over a few yoga poses you can do while breathing into your tummy. Granted the benefits likely come from continued practice but it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time in your day.

Tellhed, U., Daukantaitė, D., Maddux, R.E. et al. Yogic Breathing and Mindfulness as Stress Coping Mediate Positive Health Outcomes of Yoga.Mindfulness 10, 2703–2715 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01225-4https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01225-4

https://res.mdpi.com/d_attachment/ijerph/ijerph-17-06090/article_deploy/ijerph-17-06090.pdf

What ways have you found to work for stress relief?

Hugs to you all!

One Way I’ve Gotten My Kids To Eat Healthier While At Home

Eating healthy during the holidays is hard enough on a regular year, never mind during a pandemic while the kids are home 100% of the time. We all had that cookie-candy-desserts-all-day mentality. Except my husband, he has the will power of Superman, but the four females in the house, nada, will power was at zero.

I had a New Year’s goal to get us females back on track when online school started up again. The key for me is planning. If I don’t plan snacks and meals we end up grabbing whatever is easiest when we are starving and usually that entails processed foods alone. And the more we eat mostly processed foods the more we want only processed foods. It’s a slippery slope man.

My one easy way I’ve gotten the kids to eat better, put out a snack tray on the kitchen table about mid morning. We usually do well with breakfast, I’m pretty sure it’s everyone’s favorite meal here. Once that first snack craving starts after the kids have one or two classes under their belt, I have to be prepared with healthy options.

I usually do a mix of fresh veggies and fruit, one something that’s crunchy and then a dip. Our preferred dip is hummus but ranch dressing, sunflower butter or even Nutella if I’m feeling nice all work too. Don’t let me fool you, I’m the only one who eats tomatoes, but this tray has become something for me too.

They tray I use is from Pampered Chef and includes an ice pack to place under the top tray and it also includes the lid. Since my girls are all on three different schedules the ice pack is extremely helpful for keeping everything fresh for a long time. I’ve had it over a year and absolutely love it. Worked well for the beach last summer too.

Bottom layer tray, slim ice pack, divider tray

I’ve been keeping this on the table all day, refilling if need be and it’s usually empty by dinner time. It gives me peace of mine that I don’t belong in the Worst Mom Prison. If you’ve read my essays you’ll know what I’m talking about 😉

How are you handling the snacks and meals while your kids are home?