8 Things You Can Do to Reduce Stress
Among all the joys and pride of being a parent, parenthood can, at times, be draining--mentally, emotionally, and physically. Sometimes you might feel overwhelmed with all the unchecked boxes on your to-do list. Or you might struggle with balancing your work and family responsibilities, or feel exhausted and frustrated by your toddler's temper tantrums. Whatever the source or sources, stress may be making you feel more frustrated, overwhelmed, and negative.
And sometimes, stress can cause us to not be the best parents for our kids. Just as it is important to take care of our children, it is important to take care of ourselves. Taking even 10 to 15 minutes out of your day--whether it is at the beginning of the day or right before you go to sleep-- to give yourself time to destress can have lasting effects on your daily life. We have compiled a list of a few, simple ways to reduce stress--all that can be done with small commitments of time, but are most helpful when done consistently!
Studies have shown that meditation has many positive effects on the body, including reducing stress. There are many forms that you can try, including breathing exercises and mindfulness. YouTube has a wealth of videos that you can explore and test to decide what kind of practice works best for you. And meditating doesn’t have to be long--if you only can commit to 10 minutes in the morning, it can still be beneficial.
This mind and body practice combines both physical exertion and exercises that are common in meditation: breathing control and using the mind to relax the tension in muscles. Like with meditation, there are many videos on YouTube spanning in difficulty and length of time to best fit your abilities and schedule. Bonus - this is one calming activity that may help your kids, too! So after you de-stress, invite your kiddo to try some yoga poses and breathing to help them re-center.
Write in a journal
Writing in a journal can be a cathartic experience and another way to reduce stress. Your writing could be any focus: perhaps you want to write about the stressors in your life before bed, to put those thoughts onto paper and out of your mind so that you can quiet your brain and fall asleep. Or perhaps in the morning, you write out five things you are grateful for to enforce some positive thinking.
Listen to music
When is the last time you sat down, closed your eyes, and listened to your favorite music, with no other distractors? Studies have shown that listening to music can help make you feel calmer. You can switch up the music to see what makes you most relaxed. Studies have shown that slow, instrumental music is particularly calmer to a wide number of people, but listening to old favorites can also bring you positive feelings.
Go for a walk
Getting your body moving releases natural endorphins which help reduce the cortisol hormone that affects stress levels, so even going for a short walk can help. Being out in nature can also be rejuvenating and be refreshing to be out of the house.
You don’t have to be an amazing artist to enjoy being creative. Creating art--whether it’s painting or sketching or sculpting--can help make you feel more relaxed. Set aside some time every week to allow your creative juices to flow and lose yourself in your work. Play around with different types of art to keep things fresh, or hone your skills in one particular type--whatever you decide, don’t worry about how good your art is! It just matters that you’re doing it.
You might have an old diffuser lying around, or maybe a scented candle. Aromatherapy can take many forms, and it has gained popularity recently. Studies show that it can help reduce stress levels and increase contentment. Particular scents can have different positive effects; lavender, for example, has been shown to promote sleep in both babies and adults. Set a time to relax in the scents; perhaps take a bath with a candle lit in the room.
Give a hug
Comforting physical touch has all sorts of benefits, from reducing anxiety and stress to lower blood pressure. Make a point to hug your partner or your children every day--everyone will benefit.
Remember, taking time to reduce your stress will help you be the best parent you can be!