The amount of daily stress and anxiety you experience as a modern mother is nothing short of incredible. It’s hard to believe that day in day out you are able to not only complete all of your daily tasks, but do so with a smile.
But that stress does start to add up, and no matter how strong you are, there is a limit to how much you can handle regular stress without it starting to grate on you. It’s important that you find ways to de-stress every day so that you can avoid any serious mental health consequences.
The problem is that it’s hard to find the time. It would be nice if you could spend two hours every day to relax in a scented bubble bath and get a deep tissue massage, but chances are you can’t, so you need to find relaxation techniques you can fit into your hectic schedule. Below are several quick relaxation techniques for the busy mom.
- Deep Breathing – Total Time: 5 to 7 Minutes
How often do you find yourself feeling as though you never get a chance to truly take a relaxing, deep breath? Deep breathing is actually a very effective relaxation technique. By taking full, controlled breaths you are able to relieve stress and tension and experience a sense of calmness around you.
There is more than one type of deep breathing. But an example of a deep breathing exercise involves sitting on a chair with your back straight, with your hands resting gently on the chair arms or on your lap and your eyes gently close (not squeezed shut). You breathe in very slowly through your nose, for 4 full seconds, and try to feel it in your stomach first and your chest second. Wait a few seconds and then slowly exhale through your mouth. The exhalation needs to be very slow and controlled, and take roughly 5 to 8 seconds letting out all of the air in your lungs.
Repeat the process 10 to 15 times. As you get used to the breathing exercise, you can increase the number of repetitions to 20 or 30. The breaths should be calming. If you have asthma or feel any shortness of breath, stop and try again later. Breathing exercises take very little time out of your day and can introduce some calmness into your otherwise busy world.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Total Time: 10 to 20 Minutes
Research has found that muscle tension can contribute to mental stress and anxiety. So a common relaxation technique is to relieve that muscle tension. Progressive muscle relaxation is simple in principle, but it does take some practice to do correctly.
The basic idea is that you first tense up a muscle before the muscle can be relaxed. As an example, try squeezing your hand in the tightest first possible – so tight that you feel a great deal of pressure in your fist while you’re squeezing – and hold it for 10 seconds. Then let go. After a few seconds the muscles in your hand start to become more relaxed than they were before you squeezed. By applying continues tension and then releasing it, the muscles start to relax.
There are several additional techniques necessary to make this effective. First, you need to breathe in while you’re applying tension, and breathe out when you’re releasing it. Second, you need to make sure to only do one muscle at a time, in order to get the full benefit of tensing that muscle. Third, you should start from the bottom of your body and work your way up (feet to face). Finally, focus your energy and attention on the tense muscles and the feeling you get when you release them. Progressive muscle relaxation is a mental process in addition to a physical process.
Always be careful not to over-exert yourself if you have any potential for injury. For example, if you have back problems, don’t over-tense your back and focus on the other muscles instead. Once the process is over, your physical body should be more relaxed, and your mind should follow.
- Meditation – Total Time: 5 to 30 Minutes
Finally, you should also consider meditation. It may be hard to find 30 minutes of your day to sit in a quiet spot and simply meditate, but even 5 minutes of meditation can have calming effects. The key is to make sure that you can find a location that allows you to relax your mind – a place without disruptive noise, and where no one can bother you while you’re in meditation. We all want time alone. Meditation gives you that time in a way that can help you relieve some of your regular stress.
Finding Time to Relax
You have a busy schedule, and it’s often difficult to fit in long relaxation time. But treatment for anxiety and stress is something you need to find time for, otherwise the stress will build and cause problems with both your health and your quality of life. The above strategies take only a few minutes out of your day but will have a lasting impact on your life.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera suffered from serious stress and anxiety. His hope is that everyone can one day experience a stress free world.