Are you exhausted? I know that I am! After fighting crowds at the mall, baking mountains of cookies, and managing meltdowns by overtired kids, every parent is ready to drop! It’s difficult to avoid the insanity of the holidays, which is why it is so important for you to find a few moments to care for yourself. After all, if you feel cheerful and energized, rather than tired and stressed, you will be better able to juggle your way through the next few weeks. It doesn’t take much to get the relief that you so desperately need, so please enjoy these tips, as my holiday gift to you:
- Turn up the tunes. Loud, fun music will lift your spirits and distract you. When you dance and sing along, it will definitely put a smile on your face. Soothing music will signal your body to relax and it will help you slow down.
- Breathe in. Certain aromas have an instantly calming effect on your body. Lavender, rose, vanilla and many other scents will send signals to your brain to become calm and feel good. Carry an aroma that appeals to you in the form of a small container of balm, cream or essential oil. When you feel stressed, open the lid and inhale the soothing smell.
- Breathe out. Stress can make your heart race. To slow it down, breathe in for a count of five, and breathe out for five. Repeat this another three or four times. You will be surprised at how this simple technique can calm you down. It is especially effective in traffic or while waiting on line. Practice this often to get better at it.
- Indulge in a mini-massage. Use your favorite lotion (extra points if you use one with a soothing smell) to massage your hands together, or to rub your feet. It may not be quite as good as a professional massage, but your body will still thank you.
- Limit caffeine. Too much caffeine amplifies stress. Although you may be exhausted, resist the urge to drink too much coffee. Don’t forget that there is also caffeine in some tea, soda, and chocolate.
- Sip a cup of hot, herbal tea. The act of taking a moment to boil the water and brew the tea will give you a time out. Then, since it’s hot, you will be forced to sit and sip it. Pick a flavor that feels calming (perhaps chamomile).
- Stretch. The next time you watch TV with the kids, or chat on the phone, give your back, legs and neck a gentle stretch. You’ll feel your body instantly de-stress.
- Exercise—even for a couple of minutes. Run upstairs or jog to meet the school bus. Your body will release feel-good endorphins that will keep you going for a while.
- Take a hot shower or bath. The warm water will soothe your aching body and give you a few minutes of peace and quiet—if you’re lucky!