Spring Cleaning for the Mind
April is stress awareness month, and with a new spring season ahead, we get the perfect opportunity to “spring clean” our minds and make room for improvements. As mothers we find ourselves in different phases of parenting- facing different challenges, and dealing with it all the best we can. Stress can build up (maybe even unintentionally) and cause varying degrees of emotional, and sometimes physical, discomfort. My first piece of advice is don’t ignore it and brush it under the rug. Embrace it wholeheartedly, and explore easy and hard feelings alike. We all process experiences differently, and once you figure out what you need in those difficult times, you will be able to spend more of your energy on being the best version of you possible! Here are some of my favorite ways to “spring clean” when I’m feeling stressed.
This is probably the hardest but most effective way to relieve stress in my opinion. I tend to prefer and rely more on external sources to keep me motivated and hold me accountable. Making this one a reality depends solely on me, so it’s easy to make an excuse to skip it because I don’t always get immediate satisfaction from it (like a cardio workout, for example). On the other hand, you can do it anywhere, and you don’t need anything, and that makes it the most accessible. Any amount of time you can dedicate is helpful, even if it’s just one minute. If you do it first thing in the morning, then it sets the tone for the day. I feel like I am more capable of tackling anything that comes my way, (especially unexpected toddler twin shenanigans). I am not a pro at doing this without any sort of direction yet, so more often than not I go with a guided meditation. This one by Sam Harris, called Mindfulness Meditation is my favorite. It’s 9 minutes long, and sometimes I even find myself breathing on my own for a couple of minutes after it’s done. Yep, it’s that good!
There’s no question that a great workout can do wonders for anyone who is stressed out. This is a great way to boost the release of endorphins and get an almost immediate change of attitude. Plus, there are so many options! If you aren’t able to leave your kids and workout alone, try a group workout class location. These workouts were a lifesaver for me after I had my twin girls and was afraid to venture out on my own or even think of leaving them. The mom community is extremely supportive, and you will definitely make lifelong friendships. Another option is to find a gym that provides child care so you can get a more focused workout and shower in peace afterwards. I love an intense spin class after a long weekend of entertaining two two-year-olds. Gardening, cleaning, and walking can also help if something with less impact is more your style. Getting physical with your partner also counts!
I’ve always loved to read, but since I had my girls I just haven’t been able to prioritize free time to sit and read. About a year ago I discovered Audible, and it literally changed my life. I have been able to listen to so many good books of all different genres. I love a good fiction novel to escape my reality for a little bit, a devotional to start my day, and a self-help book to keep me focused. If you can find time to read an actual book, more power to ya, but if you can’t and miss it, here’s why Audible is so amazing:
- I can listen to it in the dark. (Moms, you know why we need this.)
- I can listen while I take the girls for a walk in the stroller.
- I can listen while I’m doing dishes, laundry, or cleaning.
- I can start multiple books and never lose my page.
- I already take my phone everywhere, so it’s travel friendly.
I have been journaling since I was in high school, except back then, I called it a diary. It’s one of my favorite ways to slow down and “spring clean” the mind of all my thoughts, if you will. There’s no wrong way to do it, but if you need some guidance there are tons of journal options out there that give you a more structured approach. For me, it’s a way to vent, create a visual list of things I’m grateful for, set intentions, and remind myself to be and stay present. It’s also a great way to hold myself accountable and use the entries as future reminders when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Every once in a while, I’ll read old entries and feel proud of things I’ve overcome. I use Starting Today: A Journal of Intention and Change by Chronicle Books.
Do Something Fun
I would say this one becomes quite tricky because when we become moms, we tend to focus more on taking care of others and forget that we need to have fun and let loose once in a while too. I promise once you allow yourself to do this again, it will make for better moms, partners, and overall human beings. In an ideal situation, I would say LEAVE THE KIDS and take a vacation with just you and your significant other. You can find a great article about why this is so worth it here. However, I can totally relate with this not being a feasible option in the near future, so this is what I suggest: Tap into your mommy tribe and make a date to “wine down” and laugh with other mamas who understand where you’re coming from, or find a sitter and go on a date with your spouse to strengthen your connection. Do things that bring you joy! (Oh yeah, wine and laughter release endorphins too!)