We are all affected by stress and how we are able to cope with it defines our mood, how much we can control our emotions and physical wellbeing.
We all also know stress is bad for us. But HOW do we manage it when it seems like there is a relentless onslaught of big and small daily stressors. From the kids and decision making, to our environment, being permanently bombarded with messaging, work, politics, pandemic…the list goes on.
(Check out my blog “Simple ways to reduce stress for busy mums” to read about the effects of stress on our bodies and minds.)
What can we do to help ourselves cope?
I’m sharing two, only two, of the simplest and fastest ways to change how you cope with stress. One you can do anywhere and at anytime, the other will also bring you joy amongst other things.
1. The first stress reliever is deep breathing.
I’m not getting all airy-fairy with you, deep breathing is a proven and well known way to reduce stress and anxiety.
So what is it and how does it work?
- When you’re stressed your breathing becomes short, shallow and irregular. This means that you’re reducing the amount of oxygen you’re getting and setting off your sympathetic nervous system which controls your fight or flight response.
In addition to that,
Shallow breathing doesn’t just make stress a response, it makes stress a habit our bodies, and therefore, our minds, are locked into itsays John Luckovich, an apprentice Integrative Breathwork facilitator in Brooklyn, New York.
Deep breathing on the other hand activates your parasympathetic nervous system which controls your rest and relax response.
What is wonderful is that deep breathing (belly breathing) is easy to learn and you can do it literally ANYWHERE. Sitting at your desk, in your car waiting for the kids to get out from school/activities/, lying in bed (great for help you get to sleep), on the train, in a taxi…
So how do you do it?
- Deep breathing or belly breathing is taking slower and longer breaths, all the way into your belly.
Try giving it a go while you’re reading the blog
- Sit tall, put you hands on your ribs and take a deep breath in, watch or feel your ribs push out. Try and breath in to the slow count of 3 or 4. Then hold your breath for the same count, and finally exhale slowly to the count of 3 or 4 trying to empty your lungs. The better you get at it the longer your counts can get.
- Try the 4-4-4 or 4-7-8 method. In for the count of 4, hold for the count of 1-7, exhale to the count of 1-8.
Whatever you can manage, repeat the deep breathing numerous times (5 – 6) and see what how your mind and body actively calm down.
Could you make this a daily practice? It’s free and is effective immediately.
If you have 18mins watch Breathe to Heal by Max Strom for TedX it will be a worthwhile investment to understanding the power of breathing. (If you don’t have 18mins, skip to minute 14:30 of the video where Max Strom takes you through a breathing exercise for just 1 minute.)
- Teach deep breathing to your kids. It is incredibly useful for small children and teenagers.
Deep breathing alone is an incredibly effect stress and anxiety reliever.
PS. You know we’ve been talking about the importance of sleep recently. Well if I’m battling to fall asleep, I do some deep breathing and it 100% helps me fall asleep.
What is the second stress reliever?
2. Finding your flow
Now you’re asking “What is flow?”
Flow is that state you get into when you’re completely absorbed in the task you’re doing. Times seems to stop, there’s no effort or over analysing. When you enter your flow state there are a bunch of hormonal responses that enter into a state of rest and relaxation.
You can get your flow through work, sometimes, but generally speaking, you get your flow on when you doing a hobby or activity.
Can you think of anything you love doing where time seems to stop?
Maybe it’s reading or scrapbooking, hiking or knitting, is it painting or even bungee jumping. You see, only you can answer this… take a minute to think about what you love being totally immersed in. Something you do that when you look up you can’t believe time has disappeared.
the experience of “flow” is a state of engagement in which you’re using your talents, optimally challenged, consummately interested, and able to let time melt away.Professor of psychology, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
THAT’S the state you want. Then, you want to try and find this state a couple of times a week.
When you’re in a state of flow, it’s a sweet spot where stress and anxiety cease to exist and you have concentration, creativity and imagination. Flow invokes the opposite of stress an anxiety.
Now, don’t go thinking it’s a waste of time or that you don’t deserve this time or that it has to be hours of your time. You do deserve this AND since your family will benefit, they deserve it too. A calmer, happier, less stressed mum makes everyone in the house happier.
So can you think of anything?
Now you need to try and schedule it in, because flow doesn’t happen without intention. Make flow and yourself a priority, just a couple of times a week.
AND bonus points if you can add a multiplier.
Heaven’s what is a multiplier?
It’s super simple.
Multipliers are when you can add other stress reducers to your flow state.
- Spending time with friends or people you love
- Being outdoors is a biggie for stress relief
- Exercise, another one we all know helps reduce stress.
So if your flow in painting, what about taking your painting outside?
If your flow is walking your dog…what about doing it with a friend where you can chat and laugh at the same time.
And that’s it really.
2 ways to reduce your stress, one you can do anywhere and another that will bring you relief from stress and anxiety, happiness and fulfillment.
If you like what you’re reading and would like more advice or assistance on how to manage your stress or how to have better lifestyle habits as a busy mum
- What kind of busy mum are you? Take my quiz and find out, then get access to tips, tools and techniques to guide you.
- I created a Healthy Hacks Digital Guide for Busy Career Mums who want to build healthier & sustainable habits so you can thrive. Find out more and buy here.
- Join my free community Healthy Thriving Career Mums, all dealing with their stressors (you are not alone!). It is full of resources and 8 free masterclasses.