With school back in session, working parents – and adults in general – have a lot on their plates in addition to their responsibilities at work. Here are five quick ways to relieve stress when the pressure gets too great:
- Try simple breathing exercises. Find a quiet place free from distractions and clear your mind for a moment. Focus on your breath as you breathe in deeply, expanding your diaphragm, then exhaling all the tension and stressors that are weighing down your shoulders. Close your eyes and focus on just the inhale and exhale for 5 to 10 minutes while relaxing your muscles in your neck, your shoulders, your chest and all through your body.
- Do a simple meditation. This can be done in conjunction with the breathing exercises as a relaxation activity. If you have difficulty concentrating, there are several apps that offer guided meditations that you may find helpful to use. Allow your body to enjoy a moment of calm.
- Take a 15-minute recess. Think back to how essential recess was during our elementary school years for us to de-stress throughout the long school day. As adults we find ourselves burdened down with way more and taking a 15-minute break allows us the opportunity to take few moments for ourselves. If you’re at work, get up from your desk, stretch, move around, ignore the emails for a short time (trust me, they’ll still be there when you get back). If at home, find a way to take some time for yourself without worrying about household chores and the next thing on your to-do list. Use those 15 minutes to unwind in whatever way works best for you.
- Go outside in nature. Take a walk, exercise, sit on your porch or patio, and just be. Ground yourself in nature and take in your environment. Listen for birds chirping, pay attention to the gentle sway of the trees in the breeze, try to smell the earth and flowers, observe the colors of the grass and leaves, or even just watch the traffic pass by.
- Keep a gratitude journal. We can often easily think of the things in our lives that are burdening us. Yet, a different perspective can often help us find the momentum to keep going even when times seem the darkest. Try writing a daily list of 5 things you’re grateful about for that day. It can be simple things such as, “I’m grateful I woke up on time” or “I’m grateful my lunch was delicious” or it can be something personal to you such as,“I’m grateful I have the love and support of my mother.” Focus on reasons for gratitude can help us overcome the reasons to complain.
It is important as we go about our days that we find moments to allow our body to be relieved of the tensions and stress that can take over. Find those moments in whatever way works best for you, whether you’re listening to music, dancing like no one’s watching, reading a book, or catching up on your favorite show. Take your daily recess to relax your body and mind. The only thing better are naps!
Another de-stressing technique, tapping, is described in this blog post. United Way of Broward County frequently hosts training sessions on a number of topics relating to mental health. To find an upcoming session click here.