I have several mothers in my practice who come in for help with energy. They are concerned about their hormones, adrenal fatigue and looking for answers on why they can’t keep up anymore...
We live in a country that values productivity above all else. Many parents live an extraordinarily high-octane life. We expect ourselves to be “on” all of the time. We go to work and perform at a high level and we come home and try to be perfect parents. We have deadlines and soccer games, work to do and homework to help with, and with all of this we leave very little time for self-care. Parents are particularly bad at taking time out for themselves, they are caretakers and they give at their own expense.
The problem with this behavior is that in the end we are doing a disservice, not only to ourselves but also everyone around us. When we are tired and over stressed we are less productive, less effective and more irritable. The immune system takes a hit and we are more likely to get sick. The adrenal glands get over-worked and we more prone to a number of health concerns including high blood pressure, weight gain and anxiety. Our mood is less manageable, we feel conflicted, we are more prone to anger and that will often play out negatively in our relationships at home. To maintain a healthy lifestyle it is imperative that we find a way to take time for ourselves.
I encourage the parents in my practice to ask themselves this question. How much time do they need to feel recharged? For some it may be 15 minutes a day, others might need an hour. The next step is to develop an action plan. How can they successfully get the time they need? They should work together with their partner’s, family or support system of friends to get help stepping away from their family responsibilities to take time for self-care. In truth, to be the best person they can be, THIS IS a family responsibility. We all need a moment of pause from time to time. Below is a list of 10 easy ways to take some time away from your high-octane life and create a moment of pause:
1. Set some time for no electronics. Unplug from emails and social media, news and electronic schedules. During this time take a nap, do some art, play an instrument, be intimate with your partner or try meditation.
2. Take a walk. It can be short or long. Alone or with a friend. But walk calmly and allow time for quiet reflection.
3. Get some bodywork. Book a massage, a craniosacral therapy session, or an acupuncture appointment. Bodywork decreases stress, improves mood, decreases pain and lowers cardiovascular risk. Book regular appointments that you will stick to. Once a week, once a month or a few times a year whatever fits in your budget.
4. Take a hot bath. Or a long hot shower if you’re not a bath person. Adding 2 cups of Epsom salts to the bath increases muscle relaxation. Drink a glass of red wine or a cup of relaxing tea or add bubbles to make it feel extra luxurious.
5. Exercise. Hit the gym or find a class that you enjoy. At the very least do some sun salutations or do a few squats, push-ups and sit-ups. The benefits of exercise are too numerous to list here but it is one of the best things you can do for both your body and your mood and you should do a little everyday.
6. Put on your favorite movie. Watch a comedy or an old classic. Something that leaves you feeling happy, relaxed and inspired.
7. Put on your favorite music. As the old adage states, dance as if no one is watching. Dance until you are breathing hard and sweating. Or sing out loud. Belt it until your heart feels full. Music has a calming effect on brain activity, decreases production of cortisol (your stress hormone), and increases production of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for feelings of love and connectedness.
8. Sit quietly and read a book. Pick something non-fiction and learn something new or pick a fiction book that inspires you. Stimulating your mind with reading will prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia as you age. It also increases the number of synapses in the brain which can improve memory, critical thinking and increase focus.
9. Enjoy a delicious meal. Prepare something healthy and nutritious. Prepare it with intention and love. Eat it slowly and enjoy each bite. Share it with a loved one or a friend.
10. Reconnect with nature. Sit and watch the sunset or wake up for sunrise. Stroll through the forest. For centuries the Japanese have partaken in an activity called, “forest bathing” and recent studies out of Japan have indicated increased immune function after spending time among trees. Or try sitting next to a raging river or waterfall or watch the waves crash on the beach. Air near turbulent water is full of negative ions, which can act as natural anti-depressants.
There are a numerous ways to take time for yourself, what’s important is that you find one that works for you, but you must commit to it. We must learn to prioritize time for self-care or the day will be nabbed up by our demanding schedules. Summer is a great time to create new habits because the sun is out, the days are longer and our energy is up. Do a 30-day “pause button” challenge. Take some time for yourself everyday for 30 days. Do anything for 30 days and it starts to become a habit.
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