After spending a few days with my sister in the hospital with her newborn baby this week, I'm reminded of how as moms we really need to put ourselves first–before our children–in order to function. In her case, keeping up with eating, drinking and sleeping is what will allow her to care for a newborn and preserving that is most important right now. Once your children are older, caring for yourself should still be the first priority. Without your health–mental and physical–you cannot parent, work, and run your household effectively.
Rather than spend money on a vacation, consider these frugal ways to destress for less. Make them habits, and you'll see great returns:
We're now used to the constant barrage of digital media–phones, computer, TV, video games–that it's hard to imagine life without it. Give it a try! Make an effort to unplug the family regularly–either each evening after dinner or one weekend day. The benefits vary from more time to get projects done (always welcome!), more bonding between the family, and increased communication all around. I find that unplugging makes us use all the things we have in our house like toys, games, and other sources of entertainment that we've spent money on but are often ignored for electronics.
When the weather allows, getting outdoors for a walk is an easy way to destress for less. Take your camera outside one day and challenge yourself to take 5 interesting photos. This has helped me on the especially gloomy, cloudy days to get out of the house and raise my spirits a bit. We also enjoy taking the whole family for a walk through the woods to look for animal footprints throw rocks in the creek.
One of the biggest changes I made to my life in 2012 was to start doing less. I put empty blocks on my schedule on purpose; as an over-committed, overly stressed person, something had to change. Doing less means I have time to do things like relax, read, go for a walk, connect with family or friends on the phone, and other priorities. If you make a list each day, make your list shorter. Recognize that downtime is important and worthwhile, and make sure you get it. You give your kids downtime, why not yourself? At first I was surprised that things did not fall down around me, but they didn't. And I am much more pleasant to be around (just ask my husband).
Learn to Say No
It surprises some people when they hear me say “No,” as I'm often counted on as the one who'll sign up, who'll volunteer, or who'll run the committee. But since I started saying “No” last year, it's made a huge difference to my stress level. For 2013, I've already told myself that I will not participate in any consignment sales or yard sales for the first half of the year. My volunteer time is full, and saying no is the only way to preserve the Doing Less I mention above.
Connect with Real People
As easy as Facebook is, it's not the same as actually talking or meeting up with a friend. When you do, you connect with real people who know you, who support you when you're worn out, and you're often helping them as well. It's hard to keep up friendships and family relationships once you all have kids and are pulled in many different directions, but the effort is worth it. You need each other. Whenever I talk to friends, it makes such a difference to hear that I'm not the only one going through ___ and I appreciate getting perspective on it. One of the ways I've combined habits is by scheduling a walk with a friend, then we get outdoors, get a little exercise, and catch up with each other all at the same time.
What are some ways you destress for less?
Original image from Pilottage on Flickr