Stress Getting the Best of You? Just Breathe.

When first introduced to breathing as a relaxation technique, we wonder how something so simple can work.  My favorite story about “breathing” was finding my 10 year-old daughter playing the deep breathing/relaxation CD I’d made to a friend who was spending the night  and having trouble sleeping.  She said, “Just listen–you’ll feel better.”  Fifteen minutes later, they were both asleep.

Deep breathing works so well because we spend so much time physically  and emotionally stressed.  Psychologist Alice Domar states that the average US adult experiences the fight or flight response 50 times daily.  While adaptive for cave-dwelling ancestors running from saber-toothed tigers, the flood of stress chemicals through our bodies makes us edgy, irritable, and more vulnerable to physical and emotional health problems.  Likewise, it results in short, shallow breathing which fuels rather than diminishes the stress response.

The busier we are, the truer this is, especially for moms with small children who already feel physically and emotionally depleted.  The more rundown we are, the more likely the fight-flight response is to trigger.  Research has shown that five minutes of deep breathing several times a day leads to lower stress hormones by day’s end.  Why wait?  If we can delay bedtime to pick up the house, certainly we can take 5 minutes, 3 times a day, to improve our physical and emotional well-being.  Although it may feel strange at first to be still and breathe deeply, it feels good.

This week’s mantra: “I always have my breath to destress.”

Read more.

Regretfully Yours…

Dictionary.com defines regret as “a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.” When I hear people speak of their regrets, they are usually thinking about their pasts. But we all know that we can’t change the past and we can’t predict the future. So, what function do regrets really have?

Author Rory Cochrane once said, “I do not regret the things I’ve done, but those I did not do.” So whether you’re thinking of something you wish you hadn’t done or maybe something you wish you had, regret can function as a guide for present-moment decisions. And all we have is the gift of right now – that’s why it’s called the “present.”

Personally, I can honestly say I have no regrets. I’m one of those people that believe that everything happens for a reason, so what is there to regret? The Cochrane quote really had a big impact on me the first time I read it. I have been an anxious person most of my life, and was allowing the fear to make my world smaller and smaller. Reading that quote made something “click” in my head and helped me say “yes” to things that I wanted to do but usually would have said “no” to out of fear of the unknown.

Are there things that you regret? Perhaps there’s a person that you’d like to reconnect with or a situation that you can correct. Today is the first day of March. While Spring doesn’t officially start until the 20th, why not start anew today? Fix the things you can and work on letting go of the things you can’t. Regret, like guilt, can be an excellent motivator, but hanging onto it too long is just a waste of precious energy.

Hello, Me. Long Time No See.

Something happened when I became a mother.

I became disconnected from my thoughts, feelings and desires. With two little people depending on me, I spent my time on their needs and wants. When I wasn’t taking care of them, I shifted my attention to my work, husband and home life. Then, back to the kids.

Gone were the childfree days of college and young professional life, when I would spend hours alone, contemplating my place in the world, journaling (oh, the journals I have filled!), taking long walks in the woods, imagining life’s possibilities and going after them one by one.

As a mom, my only times alone with my thoughts have been 10 minutes in the shower or commuting to work. And guess what I was thinking? “Man, this shower feels good” or “I really hate this $#&@ing traffic.” Deep stuff.

Perhaps because my almost-5-year-old is more independent and my 19-month-old is no longer a baby, I’m now emerging from the mom-cocoon. It also helps that I work for myself, from home, with child care. As I poke my head (antennae?) out, I’m looking around saying, “What about me? What do I want?”

I’m allowing myself to move up my priority list. How do I want to spend my time? What do I want to experience or accomplish? It’s exciting to ponder these questions. I’m still a mom, with all the responsibilities and joys that come with it. But I’m also a person — who’s enjoying getting reacquainted with herself again.

Today’s author Susan is co-founder of Working Moms Against Guilt.

Simple Strategies for Self-Care

Think you don’t have the time or money to pamper yourself? Not to worry… I want to share some ways I squeeze in inexpensive “quickies” to nurture myself. Utilize 5-15 minute increments sprinkled throughout the day to take care of yourself while taking care of everything and everyone else.

  1. Flavor your coffee with fancy creamer BEFORE the rest of the family awakes. Read something uplifting or humorous to start the day on a positive note.
  2. If your children are jumping on that last nerve, put yourself in time out. For 3-5 minutes breathe deeply then hum a happy tune.
  3. Bathe young children during the day. While they’re playing in the water, read a novel or catch up on your favorite blogs on a laptop/smart phone right there in the bathroom.  It’s also an excellent opportunity for a facial scrub/mask or to paint fingernails (one thin coat of light iridescent pink dries fast and chips are less noticeable).
  4. Utilize kids’ nap time for craft projects, a good movie, or a nap yourself. Resist the urge to do chores. Resting IS productive.
  5. Time/childcare permitting, make a date with yourself. Spend an hour or two visiting the library, coffee shop, salon, or art galleries-whatever you enjoy.
  6. Monitor and eliminate negative self-talk. Speak kindly to yourself. Challenges are just opportunities to find another way.
Photobucket

Real woman Mommie Kate

Each day, be good to yourself. You’re worth it! Today’s author is Mommie Kate who offers tips and encouragement for busy moms at Practical Faith for Everyday Life.

Call for a Self-Care Revolution

Self-care should be a revolution – it’s an idea so basic that many people, especially women don’t even think to take the time or make an effort to be a “cult of one,” to take care of themselves first.

Real woman author of today’s post, Mollee Bauer of pregnancy.org

That’s where this self-care challenge comes in.  Day one’s challenge of chanting the mantra, “Taking care of me benefits others I love,” sounds simple and it should be in theory. But we tend to clutter our lives with complications and excuses.

I take this mantra to heart lately. I can’t do anything if I spend all my time catering to others. Doing so would affect my business and personal life. By meditating, exercising and eating right, I know that I am on my way to being the best I can be at any given moment. I make sure I take care of myself and fuel my engine.

Making self-care a part of my daily life ensures that I am ready to take on any challenge that I need to deal with. Each tip is a valuable pearl of wisdom that allows me to pamper and take care of myself in ways I never thought of.

At Pregnancy.org, we’re in a similar business. We give women the tools they need to not only empower themselves, to feel safe and secure but also advice on how to take care of themselves, pamper themselves, check in with themselves to make sure they have the tools necessary to meet each of their challenges along the way.

Healthy Relationships: A Must for Self-Care

Cultivating healthy relationships and eliminating harmful ones is essential to proper self-care.  Whether it’s with a spouse, child, parent, sibling, friend or co-worker, a healthy relationship is one that is characterized by RESPECT- for us and the other person.

This includes:

  1. Courtesy – Be polite. Follow through. Be on time. Avoid shouting, insults, nagging, and manipulation.
  2. Boundaries- It’s okay to set limits, to say “no,” and to expect respect. Honor the other’s personal limits as well.
  3. Personal safety- Violence is NEVER justified or okay. Everyone has a right to be safe from physical and/or emotional abuse.
  4. Honesty- Deception and lies hurt both parties.  The truth always comes to light. Trust is easy to keep but almost impossible to repair.
  5. Clear communication- Say what you mean. Don’t expect others to read your mind. If you are unsure about what someone means, ask questions.
  6. Realistic expectations- Consider the other person’s role and the limits of that role.  Don’t expect the same intimacy from co-workers as spouses.  Even if the other person doesn’t like what’s said, we are each responsible for our own happiness.
  7. Flexibility and understanding- Plans change. People disappoint. Life is a moving target.  Learn to adapt and adjust.
  8. Grace- No one is perfect. Sometimes we have to forgive and overlook shortcomings.  Other times, we must ask for forgiveness.

Mommie Kate

Good relationships (including with ourselves) are treasures. They must be nurtured.  Make time for them. Cherish them. Enjoy them.

Today’s author is Mommie Kate.  Visit her at http://faith4moms.blogspot.com/.

Belated Valentine’s Wishes

Totally forgot about V-Day until last week’s post was done. Since this month’s theme is healthy relationships, here’s what poet e.e.cummings says about love.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear
no fate(for you are my fate, my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

But who is he referring to?  A lover, spouse, child, parent or cherished friend?  Those we hold most dear in our lives who remain with us in spirit wherever they are.  What is most important is that we are loving towards our loved ones even when we feel angry, frustrated, disappointed, or unhappy with something they’ve done.  This is what is meant by unconditional love.

Wayne Dyer recounts how he and his wife decided after having the same fight over and over, “It is more important to be kind than be right”.  Let’s keep that in mind in all our relationships, carrying each other’s hearts gently with the utmost care.