By Ellie Talley
Editors Note: This is an article that originally appeared in the Growing Up Maury Magazine. We felt it is worth revisiting considering all that is happening right now. Take care of yourselves, friends.
Around this time of year, things get a bit stir-crazy in our home. Weather in late winter and early spring can be tricky, and often we are still recovering from sniffles brought in by the cold and flu season. If you’re anything like me, all of these factors swirling about can create a perfect storm wherein my stress levels are sky-high and the demands on me aren’t letting up.
In the perfect world, I would find my- self at my favorite spa for a deep-tissue massage and mani-pedi. But real life rarely provides those kinds of opportunities at a moment’s notice.
Years ago, when I was a single mama raising two boys, teaching middle-schoolers full time and finishing my master’s degree, I developed some easy ways to create space for myself when I needed it most without having to call a babysitter or spending any money at all.
Believe it or not, a few minutes of mindful practice really can lower your stress levels and press the reset button. Here are a few that I’ve incorporated into my regular routine so that I can keep my own emotional health in a good place.
Inhale a calming scent
Our family uses essential oils for myriad purposes in our home and throughout our daily routines. One of the uses of essential oils, aromatherapy, is a practice hundreds of years old that still holds myriad health benefits. From calming and easing anxiety to fighting various ‘ickies’ in the air, these little drops of plant juice are powerful tools for you to have in your wellness toolbox.
Here are a few aromas and their purposes to get you started:
1.Peppermint – clearing a foggy brain
2.Lavender – promoting calm and centering the mind 3.Frankincense – easing anxiety 4.Orange and lemon – bringing uplifting feelings of happiness
My husband, Charlie, and I recently moved into a home on two-and-a- half wooded acres in a rural Tennessee community. There are times when life is so busy, I don’t even have the time to take a twenty-min- ute walk. But simply stepping out onto my back porch, staring off into the woods, tracing the edges of the tree line with my eyes and breathing in the earthy, woodsy smells of nature can center my focus and help me reset my mind. So whether it be a thirty-minute run or walking down your driveway to the mailbox and back, look for ways to get outside and get the sunshine on your face.
Color the calm into your life
Coloring books aren’t just for kids, y’all! Filling in a pattern on paper is a quiet, easy way to bring a sense of peace to your mind. A quick Google search for adult coloring pages will provide you with free, beautiful templates to use when you need a slow down.
Every organ in our body needs water to function properly. Dehydration is scientifically proven to increase the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in our bodies. I add a slice of lemon or a drop of lemon essential oil to a large glass of ice water. Taking deep breaths in between sips promotes relaxation and allows me to hit the pause button on life in the moment. (This works great with kiddos, too, who might need help resetting as well.)
Take a mindful moment
This easy practice can be done at essentially any point in the day. The key is for you to center your mind on the present moment using all of your senses. I do this with my coffee in the morning. Feeling the warmth in my hand, the steam and the aroma in my nose, the hot liquid down my throat. Practicing mindfulness is something we aren’t necessarily used to because of our fast-paced society, but it can be a life-giving exercise.
While we all react to stress differently, the truth is that stress is a part of every person’s life. But it does not have to be crippling. For more reading on mindfulness, check out mindful.org. This website has lots of information about the science behind mindfulness and how it can be used in the lives of everyone in your family to promote a healthier emotional balance.
Remember this: taking care of yourself is not selfish. In fact, it’s truly the most loving thing you can do for yourself and for your family. Giving yourself space to hit the reset button prepares you to move forward in your day with a healthier mindset. And it models this important practice for your kids as well.