April is Stress Awareness Month. As many as 79 percent of Americans say that they are stressed, according to a the results of an October 2007 survey by the American Psychology Association(APA). And what’s more stressful than motherhood? Caring for your kids, whether you are a stay-at home mom, a work at home mom, a work away from home mom or anywhere in between, is a stressful undertaking.
Sixty-six percent of people surveyed by the APA said that children were the greatest cause of their stress, followed closely by family life at 60 percent. The fact is that no matter how great your kids are managing all those lives and your own is stressful and stress is bad for you. Too much can have dire consequences, including compromised immune systems and heart disease.
So, as strange as it might feel, taking a Mom-cation without leaving home is really beneficial. And better yet, it’s good for your kids. The American Institute of Stress says that there is no one solution to driving stress away though, since it’s different for everyone.
Here’s a few different ways that you can unwind.
Dinner for one
The scenario: The kids are in bed. The significant other (if there is one) is out. And you haven’t eaten a bite since lunch.
The deal: Pop the cork on a bottle of wine and pour yourself a glass. Take your time cooking a special meal (or do it simple with an easy composed salad). Set the table with tablecloth, placemat, cloth napkin and silverware. Light the candles and dim the lights. Plate your food and have a seat.
The relaxation spot: This is one of those times when slowing down is key. There’s no need to rush through cooking or eating. You can reconnect with your food and yourself by taking the time to slowly chew and savor each bite. Enjoy the silence while it lasts.
The scenario: It’s been a long, long, long day. Now, you’re ready to steal away for a bit and find your center again.
The deal: Break out that fancy bath fizzy or bubble bath, those candles that you’ve been saving for a special occasion and that extra soft robe that you got last Christmas. Then run yourself a hot bath, lock the door and slip in.
The relaxation spot: Feel the water around you. Focus on the sensations as you lay your head back. Just let yourself zone out, and let all the stress float away . . .
The scenario: You can’t remember the last time you had a conversation that didn’t revolve around the root cause of green poop or the mysterious smell coming from under the crib.
The deal: Forget the mindless mystery books that you dive into before bed. Break out a classic like Wuthering Heights or Great Expectations and lose yourself in real literature. Or pull out that book on American Presidents that you’ve had tucked away since college and brush up on your history.
The relaxation spot: Reading books that make you think will rejuvenate your mind. Pure and simple.
Get Up and Go
The scenario: You are so stressed that you feel like your muscles will burst if you don’t get them moving.
The deal: Go for a long walk, run or to the gym and use movement to work through your troubles. Push yourself hard.
The relaxation spot: Mentally picture yourself telling stress to take a hike as you exercise. “Regular exercise is useful in removing the byproducts of the stress response by providing the opportunity to simulate the fighting or running dictated by the fight or flight phenomenon. As such, regular exercise allows the body to return to homeostasis faster and reduce the physical impact of psycho-social stress,” says Ernesto (Ernie) A. Randolfi, Ph.D. on Optimal Health Concepts.
Learn more about the APA survey.