by Ashley Tibbits
Most moms have a lot on their plates to begin with, from pursuing their individual career goals to helping little ones with homework, but lately more and more has been added to the heap. The closing of many businesses (or restructuring that causes salary cuts or layoffs), as well as schools, which means that besides economic concerns, there’s also the matter of keeping kids on track while learning virtually from home. And then there’s household tasks, lack of outside social engagement, and worry about potential infection that can pile on the stress.
But as the classic airplane adage goes, you have to put on your own mask before helping others — and that’s certainly true for moms trying to get through this trying time. Luckily, self-care doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as you may think. And it’s also not about the luxurious kinds of pampering that cost you a fortune. Arguably, the best and most effective kinds of self-care you can do during a stressful period like this one only take a few minutes and might not even cost you a dime.
Talk therapy (even virtually) and checking in with your regular doctor should be at the top of your list. But besides those practices, there are a few other things you can do from home that are proven to lower your stress, and make your day feel a little less overwhelming. Find out about four particular effective ones ahead.
Meditative Practice (Even for a Few Minutes)
These days meditation has become totally demystified, with the aid of apps and other digital tools that make it so much more accessible. You even can find plenty of guided meditations that take only a few minutes out of your day and can be done from anywhere in your home, yard, car, or wherever you can find a quiet and comfortable spot to escape to.
In fact, getting into a meditative state can actually have a similar effect to taking a vacation, as shown in a study by the Journal of Positive Psychology. According to its findings, both were associated with “higher levels of well-being and increased mindfulness.”
If a traditional guided meditation doesn’t work for you, there are many breathing techniques that can offer the same effect, including “4-7-8 breathing,” which Dr. Andrew Weil of the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine recommended to Medical News Today. This technique involves breathing in for four seconds, holding the breath for seven, and then exhaling for a count of eight. Such practices help to slow the heart rate and tell the brain that you’re actually in a relaxed state.
Meditative exercises like yoga or tai chi also can produce such effects. These physical practices — which also are heavily focused on breathing — can help distract your mind from racing thoughts.
Similar to talk therapy, journaling or expressive writing when you’re stressed can help you process trauma. An article on the subject of journaling to help with anxiety in Psychology Today explains that “recording thoughts and feelings on a regular basis helps people identify and process negative emotions, and ultimately alleviate anxiety.” So even moms with packed schedules might find that they benefit from sitting down for 10 minutes or so a day to jot down the feelings they’re experiencing — especially if they’re isolated from friends and family that would otherwise be a support system. We’d recommend squeezing it in right after you wake up or right before you go to bed, it's a swap for social media scrolling that your brain (and soul) will thank you for!
Take a Bath
There’s actually science behind the fact that baths can feel so soothing. According to a study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, immersion in warm water promotes vasodilation (a decrease in blood pressure) and aids in general wellness by increasing blood flow that delivers oxygen and nutrients to the body. Stress, pain and fatigue were all reported to be lowered by the bathers (as opposed to those who showered) in the study. So grab the salts, a book (or your journal!), and soak up the benefits.
If you’ve tried all of the above and still could use a little more chill, there are some powerful plants that may offer some additional relief. CBD, as contained in FOCL Drops or capsules, has been shown to offer a sense of calm (without the “high” feeling caused by THC) and even can help you get better sleep (something that busy moms know can be a struggle). Additionally, adaptogenic herbs like Rhodiola can help your body adapt to stressful situations.
What all of these tips boil down to is finding a silver of time — no matter how small! — to focus fully on yourself. We get that you may not have the time or energy right now to amp yourself up for your daily workout or go all-in on an entirely new wellness routine. But finding time to prioritize your own self-care is an undeniably crucial part of being able to continue to spin all of the plates that you do. So take a deep breath (and a dropper-full of CBD). You’ve got this.