Being a new mum to a 9 month old baby boy alongside running my own business, and working my way through all the domestic chores as well as not forgetting to walk our two dogs leaves me feeling frazzled. I have friends who are now onto their third and fourth child and I think, boy oh boy their lives must be even more hectic. One friend described it as, ‘happy chaos’
Finding those moments of calm, can feel like finding a needle in a hair stack most days. However, fitting in a little ‘time-out’ does help to improve mental clarity, improve memory and increases concentration helping us make coping with life as a mum or busy individual just that little bit easier.
Here are 10 REALISTIC tips to press pause
I have always loved to dance, more so now when my son is sitting in his high chair. I act as his entertainment and dance, which allows me to let go, and release feel good endorphins. Also try having a dance with your baby if a good tune comes on, babies love to boogie.
2) GROW A HERB
No I’m not talking the illegal variety…think Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Mint. Scent can have an excellent mood-boosting effect. Smelling something sends messages from the olfactory nerves to the emotional centre of our brains, often promoting happy thoughts. Grow lavender to remind yourself of a holiday abroad or rosemary to reminisce about that lovely gin cocktail…
3) BUMP A DULL MOMENT INTO FIRST CLASS
I’m not even going to count how many times in an hour I wash my hands now that I am a mum! What I have done is treated my poor hands to some lovely hand wash and hand cream. Likewise cleaning down the high chair has to be THE most mundane task, but I bought myself some fancy schmancy anti bac spray which smells lovely not chemically at all and helps to relax me a teeny bit and forget that this is the fourth time in the day I have wiped down the high chair.
4) BREATHE, BREATHE, BREATHE
Focus on breathing thoracically by letting the rib cage move out to the side as you inhale this causes the stretch receptors in the lungs to expand which triggers the inhibition of the sympathetic nervous system and allows the parasympathetic nervous system to take over.. Often when we feel stressed we take short breaths into our chests. Try taking a moment to inhale through the nose for 4 counts, feel the ribcage expand and then exhale out through the mouth for 6 counts feeling the rib cage draw across and down.
This is especially good to try when you have a crying baby and want to try and take a moment of calm yourself. By building moments into your day where you breathe deeply, it allows you to punctuate your routine with pockets of relaxation.
5) MINI MASSAGE
Keep some hand cream by your computer at work and every time you rub hand cream in, use this time to reflect and pause. Or as a Mum when you are putting suncream on take the time to massage in to your face or even baby, noticing how their skin feels.
6) WATCH SOME COMEDY
Leading up to labour I was told to watch comedy to keep the oxytocin hormone flowing. So continuing that into life as a busy mum and for those of you with hectic jobs, try watching some comedy to have a good laugh. Studies have shown that laughing leaves your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
7) UNPLUG FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
It’s very easy once you have finally sat down on the sofa at the end of the day to slip down the Instagram rabbit hole, coming up to surface an hour later only to realise that you have achieved very little. I try to leave my phone in a different room to allow moments of calm to filter through and rest my busy mind.
8) ROLL YOUR SHOULDERS BACK
Sitting at a desk all day ensures that the muscles around the shoulders, neck and jaw are in a constant state of tension, same goes for busy Mum’s who may still be breastfeeding or picking up babies and or toddlers.
Stretching and then relaxing the shoulder muscles interrupts the natural tendency to carry tension. Let your arms hang down long beside your body and slowly roll your shoulders back in small circular motions, try not to let you elbows bend. As you roll your shoulders back, gently open and close your mouth to relax your jaw. Relaxing these muscles sends a message to your brain that the body is not under threat and can relax.
9) TREAT YO’ SELF TO A SQUARE OF DARK CHOCOLATE
Ok let’s be realistic, who stops at a square of dark chocolate!! I just stocked up on my favourite Lindt dark chocolate with hazelnut. I am telling myself that this is a treat and I am gifting myself some pleasure. Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate stimulates the body’s production of serotonin, which we need to help us relax. Nothing to feel guilty about at all!
10) GET OUT THE CROCHET
I am someone who loves to knit and crochet….ahem maybe sew but not great at that. The point is I am enthusiastic at starting a project but not great at finishing. I have a piece of crochet, which I am looking at whilst I type this blog. It’s a work in progress and maybe thats a good thing. Repetitive activities activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which have a similar effect to meditation. Apparently if you describe what you are making to your little one it boosts the effect. I think my little one may remind me to finish the crochet project when he is 21, but at least when I do get it out and have a go I am tuning my mind in to the moment.
by Sam Mace