Family life, despite all its blessings, can take its toll on our mental health. Here’s 10 quick and easy ways to help you curb anxiety, manage stress and stay centred.
1. Breath away anxiety
Okay, so we’ve all heard this one before, but learning to control our breathing really can help us to relax. Here’s a simple breathing exercise you can do whenever you feel a spurt of panic coming on, or tension building up inside:
Close your eyes and focus only on your breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose. Feel your diaphragm move up into your ribcage and extend your belly outward as you inhale. Slowly push out your breathe as you exhale through your mouth. Feel the stress being breathed out of your body and visualise it leaving your body. Each breath should take 6 seconds to complete. Spend 3 seconds slowly inhaling through your nose and the other 3 seconds slowly exhaling through your mouth. Take 5-10 breaths like this and you’ll instantly feel more relaxed.
2. Drink green tea instead of coffee
Caffeine is a mood stimulant. It heightens our moods, which is why we feel charged after our morning cappuccino. But the crash we experience once the caffeine has worn off can invite anxiety and depression into our general sense of being. Although green tea contains caffeine, it also contains amino acid L-theanine which promotes relaxation and modifies the stimulating effects of the caffeine present. L-theanine is a caffeine antagonist, if you like, in that it offsets the “hyper” effect of caffeine. Green tea contains more theanine than the other teas. Try drinking Green tea for a more calming and gradual wake up boost instead of coffee.
3. Have a catnap
When we are sleep deprived we not only feel exhausted, accident-prone and forgetful, but irritable too. Lack of sleep can also make our body crave food even when we’re full, which in itself can bring on more stress. Nanna was on to something with her afternoon naps, a cat nap can recharge your batteries and clear your mind. Even if you don’t fall asleep, just lying down and closing your eyes for 15mins can do wonders for your mental health.
4. Phone your BFF
A friend can be a lifesaver when you feel yourself drowning in a sea of family life stress. A trouble shared really is a trouble halved and by chatting to your friend about what’s on your mind, you dissipate the energy around it and lessen the effect it has on you. Your friend will probably have some good advice and if she doesn’t, you can both have a good laugh about it (see below).
5. Have a giggle
Research has found a good cackle releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) into your system. Watch your favourite funny movie over again, or think of something silly your child said that always cracks you up and get those endorphins swimming throughout your body.
6. Put it in writing
Feel like you’re about to blow? Sometimes indulging in a good journal rant, or writing your feelings down in a letter that you never send, is just what you need to do to physically get rid of unwanted emotions. But don’t spend too long doing this though, as you don’t want to meditate on negativity, simply let your anxiety spill out in front of you and feel it leaving your mind once the words are on the page and off your chest.
7. Get rid of clutter
Clutter creates a sense of confusion and chaos. By cleaning up your home, you’re essentially clearing out the clutter from your mind. Pick the one area in the house that always makes you feel better when it’s tidy (for me this is the kitchen bench) and give it a five minute spruce up.
8. Walk off your worries
A brisk walk will clear your mind, get your heart rate pumping and your blood circulating throughout your body. Try to think about your breathing as you walk, concentrate on each breath and empty your mind of thoughts. If you can, go for a walk near water, it has a calming effect and is good for the soul.
9. Indulge in a foot bath
Fill up a large bowl with warm water and indulge in a foot bath. If you like, add some bath salts or essential oils to enhance this relaxing experience. Put on calming music and sit in a comfy chair with your eyes closed while you soothe your cares with this moment of Zen. Do this after you’ve tucked your kids into bed to really make the most of this uninterrupted me-time.
Essential oils such as lavender, chamomile, ylang ylang, clary sage, bergamot, frankincense, and sandalwood are often used in relaxation aromatherapy. Adding a few drops of these essential oils to an oil burner at home, or on a hanky that you carry with you when out and about will help you invite calm into your life.