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5 simple ways for mums to Relax, Recharge & Recover every day!

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5 simple ways for mums to Relax, Recharge & Recover every day!

What’s so stressful about being a mum?  And what do they do that’s so difficult anyway?

If you’re asking, you’re probably not a mum.

Any one of the things we do as mums honestly isn’t that difficult.  Each thing on its own that is.  But we do a lot of things, all at the same time, with constant interruptions. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  

We also feel a deep sense of responsibility for our little ones so the stakes are high.  No breaks, no weekends off, and no sick days.   That’s stressful.  

And if that isn’t bad enough, it compounds day by day.  Each little thing that wasn’t finished the day before is still there ready to join forces with the new day’s tasks like an army surrounding your sanity.  Those piles of washing mock you as you walk past trying not to look at them.  The thought of what to cook for dinner that will satisfy each member of the family haunts you as you try not to picture responses like “I don’t like this” or “We had this last time”.

Add to all this the stress of your relationship, social commitments, extended family, and oh, did I mention, some of us have jobs too?  Yeah, starting to get the picture?  And no matter how many things we get done, the todo list always grows just a bit faster.  

Now, this relentless daily serving of stress will absolutely pile up inside you possibly leading to a mental health crisis.  Unless you can destress.  This is really important: if you don’t fully process the stresses of each day then, like a credit card, it all adds up with interest.  One way or another, you gotta pay it back.  Far better to pay it down every day than in one horrific lump sum.

So don’t wait to have just a few days off every 6 months or so to relax.  In order to meet your daily responsibilities and stay sane, you need daily habits.

1. Learn your stress triggers

Being aware of our stress triggers is really powerful.

For example, I’m a bit of an over-analyzer.  I tend to think through possible future outcomes and what-if scenarios, often worrying about things that will never happen.  I also tend to replay past encounters, often over-thinking them and re-interpreting people’s motives, etc.  I’m not proud of it, I’m just saying I know myself, and it’s something I try to keep in check.

I also like to be incontrol, and find it really stressful in chaotic situations.  Here, I try to “let go” of control in these situations and relax through it.  Easier said than done, but it’s a journey.

Here are common stress triggers for mums and some examples of how you might combat each one.  

  • Being exhausted (are you getting enough sleep?  Too much TV / phone at night?)
  • Feeling overwhelmed with life (too many commitments?  Do you need to say “No” more often?)
  • Children out of control?  (It’s really stressful when your children don’t listen.  Perhaps some games and activities around listening skills?)
  • Having no time to yourself. (You can find time in the everyday to unwind and relax. Just be open to finding opportunities).

The point is though, if you know your triggers, and become conscious of when you’re being triggered, you at least have a chance to do something about it right then and there.  Before it builds up.

2. Realistic boundaries

Have you ever found yourself saying “yes” to something that you either didn’t really want to do, or later scolded yourself: “why the heck did I say I would do that?”.  We’ve probably all done it at some point but it’s not healthy.  Before you say “yes” or “no” you need to make sure it’s a fully-conscious decision and NOT an automatic or “social” response.

Ask yourself if you’re overcommitting.  Are you stretching yourself beyond your healthy limits?  Would you reasonably expect this from someone else in your position?  You can’t be everything to everyone. But as a mother, you kinda do need to be everything to your little ones and accept that they are going to take priority over other things during this part of your life.

If you feel yourself about to say “Yes”, take a moment to look within yourself and honestly ask questions like:

  • Do I really have the time for this?  
  • Will this help me and my family?

And remember, it’s ok to say NO!  😂

3. Me time 

If you ever have thoughts like “I feel like a slave”, “I feel like robot”, etc. we need them to hit the road.  You are certainly not a slave.  This is a labour of love.  Every day, take a moment to “notice” the amazing, almost superhuman contribution you make to your family.  Feel good about that.  Your value is massive!  Own it.  And part of valuing yourself, is looking after yourself. 

Most days we can’t wait for the end of the day so we can finally relax!  But then, what do we do?  Most people actually fill that time with things that add more stress and prevent them from processing the stress of the day.  We watch stressful TV shows, or shows that make us feel like our lives don’t measure up to an impossible standard.  When we watch TV at night, we’re also more likely to stay up too late and miss our much-needed sleep.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with watching TV, and I have my own “guilty pleasure” shows I like to indulge in sometimes.  But using TV or our social feed as an escape is not the same as relaxing.  We’re just temporarily ignoring how we feel instead of processing and dealing with our feelings.  Leading to the compounding stress we talked about before.

Here’s some healthy ideas for end-of-day me time.  The actual activity itself is not as important as taking the time to do it but it should be something you look forward to

  • A relaxing bubble bath, or eye mask
  • Offer to give your partner a massage in exchange for one
  • Light exercise – don’t get your adrenaline pumping – something like walking or stretching is great.
  • Read a book (nothing stressful though 🙀)
  • Work on a creative hobby
  • Write in a journal

4. Process the day

This is one of those hard to describe but amazing-to-experience things.

The idea is to take some time to just “make space” for the thoughts and feelings of the day to drift in and out of their own accord.  You can take a bath, take a gentle walk on your own, or just lie down on the couch with some relaxing music.  You can do this anytime during the day too!

Most important: no media!  That means no phones, no TV, no radio station DJ’s, no books, and no distractions.  Relaxing music is ok.  When I do this, I find that my mind races.  Thoughts come and go, feelings come and go.  And that’s the key – try not to latch on to or chase any particular thought or feeling.  Just watch them do their thing, and they’ll go on their own.  Your goal is not to make decisions, reprioritise your list, or anything.  In fact, your goal is to “have no goal” during this time.  That’s right – a 100% break from any goals.  Just let your brain process.  I was amazed at just how well things settled into place on their own once I just “made space” for them.  After a while, my mind slows down and there’s a feeling of peace and relaxation.

5. Don’t wait until in you’re in survival mode

If you wait until you’re frantic before you start, it’s too late.  By that stage you’ll just be bailing water out of a sinking boat and may never catch up.  That’s what life is like in survival mode.

If you do feel yourself slipping into a bit of a slump, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Slumps happen to everyone!  We can feel low for a few days before the clouds start to lift again.  Once you’re in a slump though, it can be hard to dig your way out.  Try simply sitting with your feelings – no judgement – and just take notice of them.  Avoid thoughts like “I shouldn’t feel like this”, or “why do I feel like this?”.  Don’t be scared to take a good honest look at them.  It may seem scary but I assure you they just want some of your attention.  You may then find they begin to move on.

Mental health is every bit as important as our physical health, if not more.  Just as we take time to exercise and care for our bodies, we should do the same for our minds.

Do this by relaxing and recharging daily, instead of in a mental health emergency.  Don’t wait until you are depressed or overcome with anxiety before you start putting good wind-down habits in place.   By putting regular habits in place you deal with stress on a smaller scale each and every day.  This way you can avoid getting into serious mental health situations that are much harder to climb out of.

Bonus ideas

Not for everyday, but here are a couple of ideas to have up your sleeve for those days you need them.  

Setup deals with friends for reciprocal “play-dates” (what this actually means is taking turns looking after each other’s kids so you get some extended me-time).

Take a “slow” day.  Do only what’s absolutely necessary.  Let the washing pile up.  Order a take-away dinner.  If you do these things consciously, on your own terms, it won’t compound stress.  Not for everyday though! 😂  

In summary…

Most of this is really about consciously connecting with yourself.  And as you do, you’ll feel more like yourself.  And the more you feel like yourself, the more of yourself you have to give. ♥️

Value yourself and your contribution to your family. Part of valuing yourself is giving yourself space.  Space to breathe, space to unwind, and space to “feel”.  Even space to do those things that you always think about doing but can’t seem to “find the time” to do. 

Your daily de-stress cheatsheet:

  1. Know your stress triggers, and have a plan ready.  As you notice yourself being triggered, take the opportunity to “nip it in the bud”. 🎯
  2. Have realistic boundaries – don’t overcommit.  Before you say “Yes”, take a moment to ask yourself: Do I really have the time for this?  Will this help me and my family?.  It’s ok to say no 💪.
  3. Me time.  Value yourself and “notice” your contribution.  Feel good about that.  When you value yourself, you look after yourself.  Take 30-60 minutes of “me time” without media (ideas: bath, walk, light exercise, visit to bodyspace 😉, or creative hobby).   During this time, take a moment to “check-in” with your own needs. 🛀
  4. Process the day.  Phone on silent, no distractions, let the thoughts and feelings  of the  day come and go. 🧘‍♀️
  5. Avoid survival mode.  Doing a little bit every day may save you from a mental health emergency down the road.  Take an honest  look at  your feelings. 🧐