Thanks to Oprah we’ve all shifted the way we see and deal with stress. We know it’s dangerous to our bodies, but knowing doesn’t magically change things. We have to make some changes to help ourselves. Here are seven ways to calm down before, during or after “one of those days”!
Breathing is an unconscious act. The key to calming down lies in how we breathe. There are two types of breathing, upper lung breathing and deep belly breathing.
When rushing around or angry we take shallow upper lungs breaths, making us feel like we can’t catch our breath. Deep belly breathing on the other hand, forces air into the top and bottom of our lungs, making us feel calm and energized at the same time.
To go from upper lung breathing to deep belly breathing slowly inhale to a count of five until your lungs are full of air. Hold your breath for one heartbeat. Then slowly and fully exhale to a count of five. This type of breathing lowers blood pressure, sends oxygen to all of your organs, and calms you all at the same time.
2. Breathing for Kids
Children experience stress too. They can be taught to use deep belly breathing as long as it’s described in an age appropriate way.
Mom: “Imagine an escalator going up, it’s showing you how to take in a slow deep breath. Then pretend you forgot something and have to go back down the escalator. That shows you how to slowly let out the big breath.”
Create a personal mantra to fit the stresses you experience. An example might be, "There is nothing as important as my health. I can be one minute late. I can do this later. I don't need to be perfect" Then use it! You’ll be amazed at the results.
Taking care of you is taking care of your child. Remember what flight attendants say, "Parents give yourself oxygen first THEN give it to your child."
Stop focusing your attention on all that’s on your plate. Stay focused on what’s going on in the moment, only. When you find yourself getting stressed stop, take a deep breath and refocus on whatever you’re doing in the moment. Make sure to change your self-talk to keep you anchored on whatever tasks your doing in the moment. “I’m washing dishes now, nothing else, just paying attention and washing dishes.” This WILL slow you down.
Go to bed 30 minutes earlier and get up 30 minutes earlier. Even if you’re sure you can’t—try it anyway. Can’t fall asleep? Check with the doctor or someone in the health food store about melatonin, Valerian root. Sipping Sleepy Time Tea works well too. Use the extra 30 minutes you gain in the morning to prep for the day ahead. When you feel prepared and organized you tend to relax and won't react as often.
7. Take a Hot Bath
Daily stress isn’t just robbing us of time and making us feel pressured, it’s leaching our bodies of the nutrients we need to battle the stress. To replenish the lost nutrients, forgo 30 minutes of TV time after the kids go to bed and take a hot salt bath. Pour 1/2 cup of regular table salt, Epsom Salt or bath salts into the bath and mix. SaltWorks.com says it best, “Stress drains the body of magnesium and increases levels of adrenaline. The magnesium [in salt] helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation.”
We call benefit from more calm and relaxation in our lives. Give these ideas a try, then comment and let me know how it goes.
Sharon Silver is the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be, and the monthly Online Skills Class, a local, national and international anytime e-class providing parents with solutions for reacting, correcting behavior, outbursts and more to create the parenting instruction manual you always wished came with your child! Click here to receive 2 FREE tips from Sharon's book. Find Sharon on Twitter and Facebook.