Call it what you may – unwinding, de-stressing, decompressing, chillin’ – but all parents need it, and you may even have a name for it: Mom’s Merry Minutes or Dad’s Jovial Jubilees. Sometimes it is as simple as closing the bathroom door. Once you do, you light a candle, turn off the lights and splash cold water in your face, and after a few deep breaths of your favorite aromatic waxed delight, you’re ready to open that door again. When the door opens this time, you do not hear the screeching fire-engine truck that your childless friend bestowed upon your child or the screams between a Barbie tug-of-war - you hear the delightful tune of happy giggles. And, though grateful of the gesture, it does make you wonder... why do childless people give the loudest toys to their friends’ children?
Here are a few quick ways for parents to de-stress:
1) Dance! When the day is just not going as you planned and the children are a little louder than normal, the printer is out of toner and you cannot read the important fax that just arrived, your latte just lat-itself all over your keyboard, or there’s water puddled on the floor in front of your new refrigerator – dance! For three minutes play your favorite upbeat music, flail the arms and shake that wonderful body of yours! Laugh and let the rhythm flow through you! A few upbeat suggestions: flamenco, reggae and old Motown classics.
2) Blow bubbles! Taking a few minutes to walk outside, breathe deeply and blow bubbles is exhilarating, regardless of your age. To breathe deeply, clear your mind and watch those translucent, perfectly round, shiny bubbles float up into the vast sky – and then pop – is very de-stressing. Also, try blowing them at sunset or under the moonlight as the glow bounces off each bubble. No words, no thoughts, just bubbles!
3) Visualize! Take a quick mental trip to a tropical island, relax on the beach, then go jump in the pool under the waterfall. Feel the water on your face and the sun’s warmth on your skin. Open your eyes, shake yourself and feel the freedom and release!
4) Just breathe! Not shallow chest breathing but deep abdominal breathing, which helps to relax the muscles and control the nervous system. It is our body’s natural encouragement to relax. When we are stressed, our breathing patterns change. Scientific studies have shown that controlling our breath can help manage stress.
Taking moments for yourself is not only okay, but it should be part of your daily schedule. Finding what works for you is the key to staying happy and healthy.
Please share with us and other parents your Merry Minutes or your Jovial Jubilees.
How do YOU de-stress throughout the day?