There are definitely stressors that are unique to motherhood, but you certainly do not need to be a mama to be familiar with anxiety.
I’ve dealt with varying degrees of depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember and, although, I’ve gotten worlds better in understanding and managing myself I still have triggers here and there that trip me up and lately I’ve been feeling like I want to peel my skin back and scream through my toenails.
I’m not quite sure what it is about mid to late may that gets me revved up. It may be all the chaos that seems to go along with the end of the school year. Maybe I feel the pressure of another year having just celebrated a birthday. Perhaps its some repressed childhood trauma that I need to release. I have quite gotten to the bottom of the “why” but I definitely know the what my nerves are a little extra itchy and my regular keep the peace, mindful relaxtion routine needs a little something extra on top.
Here are my 6 on the spot go to techniques to chill out right now. You don’t need extra space, equipment or alone time which makes them perfect for those moments when you can’t quietly disappear into another room and take space.
1) BREATHE 4 7 8
I know that breathing isn’t new to anyone, and we’ve all heard it a million times but it really does work and can give you just enough of a shift keep from ascending up up over the top of that boiling point. Something that I have found particularly helpful, though, is the 4 7 8 technique. It’s very simple and even in the craziest of situations you can stop and take three of these. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breathe for 7 seconds then slowly release for 8 seconds. Unlike the regular prescription of simply take some deep breathes this is very specific, which always works better for me, and it really forces you to focus on your breathing. There’s science behind it too but for me, all I need to know is it works. Three of these takes a total of 57 seconds! Your kids will survive, I’m sure, if you ignore them completely for that long.
2) RAG DOLL
I don’t know about you but when I’m tense and anxious I can actually feel the energy being blocked inside my body. If things are not moving and flowing no wonder I feel like I’m gonna burst, right? So next time you’re feeling tight drop down into Rag Doll pose. The benefits of yoga are immeasurable but, again, in the middle of a moment it can be too challenging to go through an entire sequence. Of all the poses I know, I’m no Yogi by any means so I’m sure there are many more that would work, Rag Doll helps me loosen up with just a few breaths (yes you have to breathe with this one too 😉 ) hang down for 10 seconds, breathing in and out slowly. Before you come up take one last deep breathe and roll up, shoulders up back and down, exhaling as you lift your head last. You can’t tell me that last exhale doesn’t feel amazing! You could even mix in the 4 7 8 breathing with this one and then say to yourself, “how brilliant am I” Even just once you’ll feel a difference but if you can do this 3 times you still will not have to ignore the world around you for more than a minute.
3) STICK YOUR FEET IN THE EARTH AND BREATHE
To be fair this one involves something other than just yourself but it’s so worth it if you’re able to get outside and make contact with the ground. The technical term is actually called “Grounding” or “Earthing. The health benefits are numerous but for the purpose of this exercise the most important thing to know is that you’re connecting with the energy and frequency of the Earth and therefore recalibrating your own. I did this just yesterday and after a few minutes I was so relaxed I walked back to the car and completely forgot my shoes; luckily someone gave me a friendly reminder. I have yet to find a way to do this one in the dead of winter but if there’s some grass or bare dirt anywhere around, I’ve actually pulled the car over for this one, slip your shoes off and stand for a minute; don’t forget to add the breath. Submersing yourself in nature will always bring a little balance.
While doing Rag Doll in the middle of a parking lot or pulling over to ground yourself will both make you look a little silly, if you don’t mind looking a little unhinged then the next 3 will be perfect.
Laughter truly is the best medicine and I’ve recently discovered that it’s even funnier when nothing is funny. Yes, I said that right. Make yourself laugh by pretending to laugh. I will warn you, it looks absolutely ridiculous! It also, however, works. Laughter helps reduce the physical symptoms of stress but you don’t have to wait for someone to bring the funny, just start laughing, until you start laughing!
This is another one that tends to make me look a little like I’ve lost my mind but lets keep it real, I’m sure I’ve lost some of it and I think I lost the part that causes me to care. This is also the one that I think makes my kids a little nervous, especially if I’m singing opera, because this is the one I tend to when I’ve just about lost it. The good news, though, is I do sing, I don’t lose it and we all live to see another day. Singing also happens to be my passion but trust me there really is no special way, just sing whatever happens to be in your head. Next time your kids are driving you up the wall with bickering or whining or demanding or whatever bust out with the “Circle of Life” song from The Lion King “ah zabenya”. They’ll get quiet and you’ll feel much better! Disclaimer: I get on my kids’ nerves big time with this one. 😉
This is similar to the laughing principal of faking it until you make it only it’s quieter so you will only look like a fool, no audio. Force yourself to smile until you feel happy? Sheesh sounds a little daunting right? It can feel a little awkward at first but smiling can change your vibration; so smile and smile often. This one you can literally do anywhere anytime! Hold a smile for a minute, longer if you need and watch your mood change. It is very difficult to be mad with a smile plastered across your face; yes, it needs to be a wide, plastered, make your face hurt kind of smile. Smirks will not cut it.
So, if you see me out and about standing in the eye of a chaotic storm, holding a goofy grin or singing “Genie in a Bottle” just know, I’m not crazy, I am actively protecting my sanity!