Homeschool moms are busy women who take multitasking to a new level, so learning strategies for coping with stress is important. Even those with a more laid-back personality or approach to homeschooling can still feel stressed. As someone who’s struggled with anxiety for years, I know the effects of stress intimately. Stress can be defeated. Don’t give up! Gather the tools and the knowledge to both prevent and remedy the symptoms of stress with these simple strategies.
Breathe and Meditate
You typically don't notice your breathing until you're already stressed and upset--it speeds up quickly, doesn't it? That and other physical symptoms such as nausea, headaches, feeling overheated, etc. all tell you that something's wrong. Being aware of these signals can help you decrease your stress levels immediately and prevent more serious conditions overall.
According to The American Institute of Stress, "Abdominal breathing for 20-30 minutes each day will reduce anxiety and reduce stress. Deep breathing increases the oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body--it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind."
Take a deep breath! Deep breathing is an extremely effective relaxation tool. It's easy and you can do it anywhere. Here are some deep breathing techniques to help you ease your stress:
- Belly Breathing
- 4-7-8 Breathing
- Roll Breathing
For a detailed explanation and basic steps for each technique, please visit WebMD Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation. Take some time each day and practice. Soon you'll be proactively managing your breathing to prevent stressful rapid breathing.
Meditation is another easy way to relieve the symptoms of stress. Freemeditation.com describes the practice as that which "enables one to focus on the present moment rather than dwell on the unchangeable past or undetermined future." Sage advice indeed. I think so much of our anxiety on any given day centers on the what ifs. So quash the what-ifs and make today count.
It’s absolutely amazing what a little regular exercise can accomplish in your body and mind. A healthier body is more able to deal with stress.
Walking, of course, is the easiest exercise you can do because you can do it anywhere and at any time. Take a walk around your block or through your neighborhood. Take advantage of a nearby walking trail. Inclement weather in the forecast? No worries. Walk inside--I use and LOVE these walk at home workouts created by walking guru Leslie Sansone.
Yoga is another easy way to both exercise and relax--yoga combines controlled breathing with poses that help strengthen and tone your muscles, aid weight loss, boost your focus, improve flexibility, and relax your mind and body. Wow! Relax your cares away with these awesome positions which are perfect for beginners and yoga gurus alike.
Swimming, aerobics, bicycling, and participating in sports are other great ways to tone your body and have fun at the same time.
Never underestimate the power of sleep. Abundant and quality sleep is essential for you to function well on a daily basis and vital to combating the inevitable effects of everyday or crisis stress. Follow these tips for a good night's sleep:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Yes, even on weekends. I know just how tempting it is to sleep in on a lazy Saturday or Sunday, but even an extra hour or two of sleep can wreak havoc with your circadian rhythm or internal clock.
- Refrain from taking long naps during the day. The Mayo Clinic recommends shorter naps--about 10 to 30 minutes--typically taken during the middle of your afternoon.
- Create a sleep-happy environment. Start with a sleep-inducing foundation--consider painting your bedroom a shade conducive to sleep. Add matching bed linens, lovely pieces of artwork, family photos, scented candles, and soothing music and you're well on your way to enjoying some quality time with the sandman. Try to keep your bedroom temperature between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in the quiet solitude of the country, try cracking open a window or two and let nature serenade you with her lovely lullabies.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine. This means no screen time too close to bedtime. Reading, doing needlework, soaking in a warm scented bath, engaging in a casual conversation with your spouse, child, or friend, or listening to calming music each evening before bed can truly soothe a weary mind and body.
- Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine. Studies have also shown that alcohol consumption may interfere with your ability to fall asleep depending on when you drink. Avoid smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes too close to bedtime.
Sleep deprivation isn't just about feeling sleepy the next day--it actually affects your body's performance. Quality sleep stimulates your brain and keeps it in tip-top shape while also helping to keep major body organs like your heart and kidneys functioning properly.
Scent-ify Your Environment
Essential oils are a lovely and very practical way to relieve stress and enjoy beautiful fragrances throughout your home. Simply pour a few drops of a favorite scented oil or a mixture of several different oils into a diffuser, and let the scent relax your busy mind and spirit.
You can also dab a few drops directly onto your skin in strategic places to ease pain and stiffness, congestion, and stress. Try these scented oils for stress relief:
I love to mix together orange and peppermint...ahhh, simply heavenly.
Give Yourself a Break, Often
One of the beauties of homeschooling is the freedom to take a break when you're weary. We all need a break now and then, and regular breaks refresh both body and mind. Here are some of the ways I take a break and relieve stress:
- Drink a cup of herbal or decaffeinated tea with a healthy snack.
- Take a brisk or leisurely walk--both will alleviate stress.
- Take a bath--yes, even in the middle of the day, a short soak in a warm, bubbly bath works wonders.
- Listen to music.
- Sit among the flowers--this is just an expression that can mean different things. Basically, go outside on a nice day and enjoy your garden, pretty fall leaves, the warm sunshine, the field of sunflowers up the road, a rainbow after a spring shower, or a spectacular cloud formation.
- Enjoy a lively conversation with your kids. Let them choose the topic (as long as it's fun or lighthearted) and simply revel in the joy of being able to chat with your children in the middle of a typical school day.
Stress may be a natural part of life, but it doesn't have to control you. Be proactive. Do a little research, and you can put together a personalized stress relief plan.
What are some ways you relieve everyday stress? Please, share them in the comment section. We'd love to hear how you conquer the stress in your life.