Life today just seems to be such a rush. As parents, we’re so busy balancing work, family and life in general that sometimes we forget that we actually need time for ourselves. Our brains are literally on overdrive daily as we try to keep a balance. 1 Life has a few recommendations to help mums and DADS to help give our brains a break.
Poor mum. Not only was your brain altered by pregnancy (this is true, according to science), you then had to contend with sleepless nights for a couple of years, and now you’re faced with a good eighteen years of being pulled in so many different directions that you hardly know whether you’re coming or going. The cumulative effect of all of this means that you are permanently exhausted and you can’t remember the last time you finished a thought in peace.
It is, however, vital that you prioritise your mental downtime – sometimes, your brain just needs a break. As a busy mum, you’ll find that’s easier said than done, so here are some pointers for getting back your mental mojo.
Honey, no one’s going to notice that your brain is running on empty and suggest that you take some time to replenish your mental energy; you have to demand it for yourself. Get out your diary, let everyone know when they’re expected to report for duty, and vanish to somewhere quiet like a coffee shop, spa or beach for some serious “me time”.
Ban the distractions
The world will not stop turning if you switch off your phone. Wherever you go – even if it’s just to your bedroom with the door closed – put aside the phone, laptop or tablet so that you don’t get dragged into the stimulating and exhausting online world when you should be resting.
Incorporate mental rest into your daily routine
While it’s a good idea to schedule rest and relaxation away from your family, it will really help your sense of mental wellbeing if you can get a daily dose of chill. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be quality downtime – whether you sit under a tree in your garden with a cup of tea for ten minutes, or meditate as soon as you’ve got the kids off to creche or school, or even go to a calming exercise class like yoga. Carve those minutes out of the day for yourself.
Actually, while we’re on the topic of exercise, a workout takes you out of your brain and into your body. While it may not be the most relaxing version of downtime, hitting the gym is a great way to give your brain a break from the stresses of daily life. And it’s good for your physical health – which goes hand in hand with mental wellness – as well.
Getting a bit of sunshine increases your levels of vitamin D, which supports brain function, and serotonin, which is the happy hormone. It’s also just good for your general wellbeing to look at blue skies, green trees and flowers in bloom, so try to get outside on sunny (or even cloudy) days and reap the benefits.
Try peaceful music
You might be a fan of pop or indie or rock n roll, but sometimes you need a bit of calming music to soothe the savage brain beast. The good thing about music is that you can listen to it while you are doing other things, so try surrounding yourself with calming melodies while you’re driving, cooking or even at work to help your brain to relax.
If you find that you’re really strung out, breathing exercises can help. The more stressed you are, the more shallowly you are likely to breathe. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths into your diaphragm (your belly should expand, and your shoulders shouldn’t lift), hold briefly before you inhale and exhale. There are any number of breathing exercises for specific outcomes, so try searching on Google or YouTube until you find a routine that works for you.
Mothers worry – it’s the nature of the role. But constantly turning over your concerns in your head is not actually helping to solve them. If you have a specific worry, write out an action plan with steps to implement it, and then try to put it out of your mind. If you find that you are stuck anxiously obsessing about things, try the breathing technique we’ve already mentioned, or use an anxiety busting mind-trick to bring you back to the here and now. One such trick is focusing on one thing you can see, taste, hear, smell and feel in the room around you to make you feel present in the moment.
You have the tools, now implement them! Just like your body needs sleep and food, your brain needs downtime. If you make sure you get the mental rest you need, you’ll find you have more vooma for just about everything else you need to do.