Can you believe the Summer Solstice was seven weeks ago? Here in Europe, I’m enjoying the mid-point of the summer season. I’m also aware that in just six weeks time the Autumn Equinox will arrive in the Northern Hemisphere.
For those of you who live in the Southern Hemisphere, your Winter is currently moving steadily towards the Spring season. Of course, new rhythms and routines lie ahead when the seasons change in your geographic region.
Whatever your residential area or current season, now is always a good time to unravel tension, enjoy a sense of aliveness and reduce the negative stressors in your day-to-day family life. The time between seasonal changes is a great moment to practice the art of high-quality living and loving to support your inner self through the family shifts ahead.
Joy in Simple Daily Living
When was the last time you enjoyed a peaceful time at home while feeling subtly energized from within? Do you remember a moment when you felt content knowing that you’ve taken care of yourself really well while also meeting your children’s needs? This can be tricky as a new parent but certainly not impossible.
Even as a more experienced parent, change happens along the journey. Your child will always be the same person, but with many small and big changes that occur as each developmental stage transitions into the next. Sometimes it seems that just when you’ve got your groove and have found a balance with your child, they’re already onto the next phase of transition and you feel subtle differences that make your relationship seem a bit new.
What you really want to have, regardless of your age or your child’s age, is a life full of laughter, happiness and energy. Parenting is a long-term experiential endeavor. In other words, you experience it as you do it. Who wouldn’t want to have more joy and energy while participating in the parenting process?
5 Tips to Reduce Negative Stress Now
There are many ways to decrease your experience of negative stress in life. Some things are outside of your control but you can influence a good number of things with some creativity and positive intentional action. Being self-aware and present-minded is helpful when you want to feel more energy and contentment in your family situation.
I promise you, challenges will arise in your daily life at home. However, you can always attend to nourishing your wellness from the inside-out to help yourself move forward when bumpy roads appear.
Here’s my list of 5 ways to nip negative stressors at the root:
1. Increase Your Quality of Sleep
Have you noticed that as you age, it gets harder to look fresh and full of life after a late night? One of the biggest challenges parents face is finding a path back to feeling well-rested from a high-quality sleep after a year (or more) of interrupted sleep due to your infant or toddler’s needs.
Don’t give up and remember, you won’t be sleep-deprived forever. Well, that is, if you practice healthy routines to train yourself to actually sleep when your body needs it. This is a kind of self-parenting that takes self-discipline and gentle attention to your body’s messages. Red or watery eyes, yawning and slouching are some obvious signs that you are in need to rest to replenish your energy.
To encourage a good night’s sleep, develop a routine that works for you and be consistent. Your body will understand and learn quickly if you are consistent. Pick a bedtime that will give you 7-9 hours of sleep, depending on your personal need for a sense of well-being. Sleep in total darkness because your brain needs time away from stimulation such as light. Try a short evening breathing or meditation practice to calm your mind in preparation for slumber.
2. Eat Whole, Nutritious Food
Everything you put into your body has an effect on you, whether you’re aware of it or not. Most of us live such busy lives that we don’t take time to savor our food, to enjoy the aroma and texture while eating mindfully. Even more of us are unaware of exactly what we’re eating and where there may be cracks in our nutritional foundation that may be causing us more stress and hindering our sense of healthy aliveness. Sadly, many of us eat to cope with stress and the choices we make aren’t very healthy.
As with most things in life, there are a number of ways to achieve the right path for you in terms of a healthy diet. Forget the idea of having one definitive answer to perfect health through eating. It just doesn’t exist. However, you can talk to your family doctor and/or a nutritionist about actions to take for a nutritious diet appropriate for the diverse needs of your family.
What seems to be common among health experts is the nutritional value of a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. One popular and healthy diet is the Mediterranean style of eating which is focused on foods prepared yourself, from fresh ingredients and having the family sitting down at the table to take time enjoying a meal together. Extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, yogurt and lean meats (for non-vegetarians, non-vegans) are features of this whole foods, whole living way of eating.
3. Drink Plenty of Water Every Day
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again now. You need to drink about 8 glasses of water a day, depending on your level of activity, the climate, your state of health and your diet. A “glass” is about 1 American measuring cup or, in the mathematical language of the international community, that’s about 250 mL.
Have you known someone going through a medical issue and they tell you that their doctor said they need to drink more water? This isn’t always the case but it can quite often be one of the first things you’ll need to take care of when working on healing the body. Headaches and grumpiness can also happen when you’re even slightly dehydrated.
Your level of physical activity and where you live will have an impact on how much, when and how you drink your daily water. Loss of fluids through sweat and perspiration through physical activity and/or a hot climate can increase your need for water. As far as the ideal temperature is concerned for drinking water, there is much debate on the topic. Whether warm, hot or cold water is right for you, drink up and drink often!
4. Move, Breathe and Move Again
Exercise is most challenging in our modern era of visual consumption through television, movie theaters, computers and portable screen devices. We humans love to look but lately, it seems that mindlessly looking at screens is over-the-top stimulating and one of the biggest wastes of time for both children and adults alike.
How about enjoying the real 3D version of the world just a little bit more? Moving your body in nature or among other living, breathing human beings at a gym, yoga class or other group setting is a nourishing and human way to get healthier through breathing and physical movement. Limiting screen use in your free time only for high quality learning and interaction is a great way to make space for exercise.
Beyond heading to your local gym, here are some ideas for finding what floats your boat for exercise: conscious walking, taking horse-riding lessons, gardening, swimming, dancing, sport in the park with your child, hiking, skipping rope, skiing, cycling, jogging with the family dog or even training for a marathon. The possibilities for meeting your body and mind’s need for movement are many so try something enjoyable most days each week to unravel tension.
5. Laugh and Smile in Good Company
Are you reaping the benefits of the simple joys available to you in your community? We feel good when we are known and seen and an easy smile to your neighbors might just be what lifts your spirits and puts things in perspective. The next time you’re out and about doing routine tasks in your area, send out a warm smile to folks in your community (where appropriate). Smiling is social nourishment for yourself and for others.
Thinking of your friends isn’t sufficient. Carving out some time to spend with people you know, like and trust can feel like a tonic for the soul. Other than love and joy within your family, laughter and smiles with close friends can de-stress your life profoundly.
Having a sense of connection to others is so important for your life. Without it, we can feel negative stress. If you’ve recently moved or live far away from the people you cherish and with whom you have a positive history, don’t try to replace them.
Simply open up and broaden your social world by joining a club, taking up a sport, learning something new in a class or in a group setting. If you’re a mother looking to connect with like-minded and like-hearted women interested in parenting with less stress and more joy, check out my upcoming virtual group experience by clicking here.