Being a mother is a 24/7 job, and often a frustrating and exhausting one. Our children bring us immense joy, but they can also drive us up the wall with their tantrums, disobedience and crazy antics at times. The knowledge that motherhood is a life-long commitment can sometimes fill us with fear and misgivings about the journey ahead.
In such times, suppressing our feelings or shutting our children out is psychologically and emotionally harmful, both to us and to our families. Instead, it’s important for us to seek out healthy ways to de-stress and manage our emotions, so that we can find meaning and joy in our role as parents, and bring our children up with grace, love and patience.
Here are 10 ways you can find some refuge and refreshment for your heart, mind and body during the week!
1. Keep a journal
Writing can be a very therapeutic process. The very act of formulating your thoughts and feelings into words allows you to acknowledge and give expression to your deepest emotions. This kind of release or “catharsis” can give you precious insight into your own struggles, bringing with it a sense of relief and lightening the load of the “baggage” that is weighing upon your heart. Write as honestly as you can – after all, this journal is reserved for your eyes only.
2. Make mindfulness a way of life
Practicing mindfulness is an effective way of relaxing your mind and body. This is not some kind of new-age or religion-based theory, but simply cultivating a moment-by-moment awareness and attention to all that is happening within you and around you, anytime and anywhere. Being fully present in each moment is the best gift you can give your family – and yourself.
3. Have a laugh
They say “laughter is the best medicine”, and it’s true! When you laugh, you take in more oxygen than usual, which stimulates your heart and lung muscles. The increased heart rate and blood pressure helps your body feel relaxed, similar to the rest and satisfaction you enjoy after some exercise. When you laugh, you also release neuropeptides, which help to fight disease and reduce stress. So check out some funny videos on YouTube to get some laughs and chase those negative vibes away!
4. Connect with someone
Call your husband, friend, dad, mum, or speak to a personal counselor. Sharing what is troubling you with a trusted confidante can help you put things in perspective, and make you feel less alone. Face-to-face communication is ideal, but if you can’t meet up in person, that someone is just a phone call or message away.
5. Listen to some music
The soothing melodies of classical music and jazz have been shown to help the body relax, lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, and causing a drop in hormones which contribute to stress. Plug in to some good music and allow its calming effect to wash over you. Couldn’t be easier!
6. Make time for exercise
A little bit of exercise, done regularly, goes a long way. Exercise helps your body relieve stress by releasing endorphins, which are essentially brain chemicals that elevate your mood and improve your body’s immunity. Psychologically, exercise can also allow you to feel in control of the situation, even though you may have little control over your stressor in reality (like your kids). Go for a run, lift weights, do aerobics or pilates. or attend a dance class (Zumba seems to be all the rage these days), and feel all that tension just melt away…
7. Eat a healthy snack
Eating the right kinds of snacks don’t just fill our tummies – they can elevate our moods! Foods that are high in vitamin B, vitamin C and folic acid help you fight stress, as they aid the production of serotonin
in the brain, which makes you feel happy. Munch on fresh fruits like
blueberries and oranges, or a handful of raw (versus processed) nuts
like almonds and cashew nuts.
8. Have some tea
Herbal teas are a soothing remedy for calming nerves and improving your general well-being. Try:
- Mint – Besides smelling wonderful, mint tea can help relax your mind and tastes so refreshing when served iced!
- Chamomile – Well-known for helping to reduce nausea and indigestion, chamomile tea also soothes frazzled nerves and stabilizes moods. Drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bed is also known to help you get a good night’s sleep.
- Ginseng – Ginseng tea quickly induces a calm and peaceful state to your mind, and is also a good remedy for helping you sleep soundly.
- Lavender – Stress and tension often result in headaches ranging from niggling background ones to full-blown migraines. Lavender helps to reduce the tension caused by stress-induced headaches.
9. Look through photo albums
There’s nothing quite like a good dose of nostalgia to keep your sanity in check. Leafing through old photos can be good for the soul, as you reflect on the journey thus far and realize how far you’ve already come. You’ve already made it through so much, and you’ll live to tell of another day.
10. Hug your children
Giving someone a hug makes you feel closer to that person instantly. Sometimes that’s all you need to remember when you’re about to tear your hair out with frustration because your kid isn’t eating the food you specially cooked for him. Break the tension. Instead of reacting in anger, do something completely opposite – pull him in for a long, tight hug. You’ll be surprised at the wonders a simple hug can do for your relationship!
By Dorothea Chow