Hot Mom Monday: If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy

By Hot Mom Spa Squad member Charmin Calamaris, CEO of the Momiverse


We’ve all read or heard this phrase numerous times (hopefully with better grammar), but have you thought about what it really means? As mothers, we focus on taking care of everyone around us and we rarely take time — or make time — for ourselves. Undoubtedly, this can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Are you at the top of your game when you’re feeling this way? I know I’m not.

Does the following sound familiar? You’re tired, stressed and have way too many things on your to-do list. Because you’re impatient and rush your kids, they start to feel your stress too. So even if you feel you can’t reduce the level of stress just for yourself, realize that when you’re stressed out, it negatively impacts the people you care about most.

Here are five simple ways moms can take time — and make time — for themselves.

1. Take a time-out

How often do you take time to sit and relax? Having quiet time to yourself every day is a simple way to calm your nerves and relieve stress. As a mom, you may find that it’s easiest to find quiet time early in the morning before your kids wake up and get ready for school. Some moms prefer mid-morning/afternoon when their kids are at school and others find time before heading off to bed. Even 15 to 20 minutes can provide you with enough quiet time to recharge your spirit, give your mind a break and increase your productivity.

Some ideas for taking a personal time-out every day:

  • Eat your lunch without working on the computer, talking on the phone or doing the bills. Eat mindfully, enjoy your food and cherish the quiet time.
  • Go for a walk. Fresh air and daylight can revive your mind.
  • Sit down and relax. Take 15 minutes and do nothing. Put your feet up, close your eyes and enjoy the silence, before you start hearing, “Mom, Mommy, Mama…”
  • Take a bubble bath, give yourself a pedicure, apply a facial masque, flip through a magazine, or anything else you enjoy. (Bubble bath photo courtesy of that link, another one of the #hotspamoms)

If you find it difficult to find any time to do these things, then make the changes needed to make it happen. Ask for your spouse’s support and talk with your children about how they can help mommy take care of herself so she can be a better mommy. Remember, a few moments to reenergize is something that will make you feel better and though you think you don’t have time, you’ll be so much more focused, productive and relaxed afterward that you’ll realize just how helpful “me” time is.

2. Chit chat


Life wasn’t meant to be lived alone. And as much as they love us, our husbands or partners can’t be everything we need. Every mom needs a gal pal, especially another mom who understands the daily chaos of raising kids. These friends know exactly how we live on a daily basis, because they live it too. When you have an added stressor you need to vent about, pick up the phone and call a friend. You’ll both feel better for having spent the time nourishing each other and your friendship.

3. Tune in


Studies have shown that music has positive health effects — both physiological and psychological. Music can help you reduce depression, stress and anxiety, stimulate your brain cells, make you want to move your body through dance and exercise, and in some cases, sleep better. Surround yourself with music whenever you have the chance and allow it to lift your mood. Don’t blame me when you start humming along and tapping your toes.

4. Get unplugged


As moms, we stay pretty connected to our smart phones, computers or iPads all day. After all, we’re the Chief Executive Officers of our families and households. We have little people we’re responsible for, bills to pay, information to share and work to do. In addition, our phones and computers are sometimes the only way we can steal a quick five minutes to stay in touch with family or friends. In the evening, you might watch TV, play Draw Something or Words with Friends on Facebook, join a Twitter Party or email your child’s teacher with questions about his science project.

Enough already!

Take an oath to be unplugged one day each week (or an evening or afternoon). Take this time to reconnect with the ones you love. Focus on those tasks you’ve been procrastinating. If your entire family is unplugged at the same time, you might be surprised at how much fun you can have together once you reconnect. In fact, make it a dinner rule. No tech during meals, this way you can all talk, to each other. What a novel concept.

5. Take responsibility for your own happiness

You’re not the boss of me, but you are the boss of you. While it’s easy to blame your stress on your boss, a bad relationship or other people who ask you for too many favors, it’s ultimately up to you to decide if you’re important enough to put yourself on your to-do list.

You’re a mom who has many different responsibilities on her plate, but is your health and wellness on that plate? When you learn to say yes to yourself, no to activities that are not priorities, and schedule time for yourself in your daily activities, you’ll find more time for the things that bring you joy.

It’s so easy to use motherhood as an excuse to neglect ourselves. But rather than allowing the everyday chaos of life with kids be the reason for our stress and anxiety, let it be the catalyst for taking better care of ourselves.

Charmin Calamaris is a wife, mom of two little boys and creator of the Momiverse. The Momiverse is an online magazine for busy moms (is there any other kind?) dedicated to helping moms take time – and make time – for themselves. Charmin traded her career in environmental policy to become Chief Executive Navigator of the Momiverse. You can connect with Charmin in her “online office” on Twitter.

Massage Therapy: The Best Job on Earth

There is nothing in the world more rewarding than helping someone heal, whether that be physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. –Lisa Ianiro, Cure Spa in Malibu, CA

Do you feel like you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders? This expression embodies how the stress of life can literally lead to physical pain. And while your honey may give you a quick shoulder squeeze to ease off a rough day, sometimes you need to turn to the hands of a pro. But who are the professionals behind these healing hands? Massage therapists are trained to help you feel better, and the even better news is that many of them are happy to do so. US News recently ranked massage therapist as one of the best careers in 2012. Not only does this profession have a promising outlook for the future, but massage therapists do it because they enjoy their often physically demanding line of work.

Many feel a connection with their work that goes much deeper than deep tissue massage. Ann Marie Burns of Daryl Christopher Wellness Salon and Spa @ HealthPoint in Waltham, MA has been a massage therapist for seven years and reflects on what she thinks makes her successful massage therapist: “I have learned that the passion within you, to help others heal, relieve pain, clear the mind, reduce stress, all comes through the powerful tool, The Hands. If the passion within is not present, success may not be there.” Making their client feel better is key, but are their hands capable of more than just calming sore muscles?

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article Don’t Call It Pampering: Massage Wants to Be Medicine, which highlights recent studies that back the benefits of the back rub, and the list isn’t short. Evidence has shown that massage decreases the hormone levels of both arginine-vasopressin, a hormone that normally increases with stress and aggressive behavior, and cortisol, a stress hormone. In addition, massage has even shown signs of decreasing cytokine proteins related to inflammation and allergic reactions, and boosting white blood cells that fight infection. Massage can help treat the symptoms of many conditions and improve general health.

Marion Bendfeldt of The Women’s Club Fitness Center and Day Spa in Chantilly, VA recognizes the realm of problems that bring people to her. “I have realized that they lay on my table for many different reasons. My greatest gift to them is to remain present so that the universal energy and love may flow through me and allow them to begin their healing journey with grace and ease.” For many, massage could be the light at the end of years of pain.

As the benefits of touch continue to unfold, it is predicted that the profession will continue to grow substantially. We’re happy being treated and they enjoy their job, everyone wins! (Except sore muscles.) In addition, when you’re paying someone who is happy to be there, you’re going to get better results. A happy masseuse means a happy customer.

We asked massage therapists from our Spa Week spas across North America – ALL of which are offering $50 massages for Spa Week…

What do you love most about being a massage therapist?

I put my heart and soul into each massage trying to pass my positive soothing energy to each individual that I touch. — Juan Morillo, Details Salon Spa in Springfield, NJ

I love that a person can come in feeling run down, tired, sore or even moody and leave a different person. — Leigh Olander, Elixir Mind Body Massage in Denver, CO

I feel fortunate to be in a career where a total stranger can feel a connection that goes beyond the tension in his muscles and have it affect not only himself but the people who love him. — Ann-Marie Sevigny, Bella Santé in Lexington, MA

It’s the relief, the relaxation, a smile with a glazed look in their eyes; it’s the transformation that happens to a person who walks in with stress, muscle tension and pain, experiences a massage and it’s as if they left all that stress they brought in with them, in that room. — Wathena (Nena) Armstrong, Beyond Beaute Day Spa and Wellness Retreat in Deer Park, TX

I think everyone needs a friend and a very good massage therapist too. I can be both. — Lucy AKA Junquioa Lu, Zen Spa – Carmel Mt in San Diego, CA

As a therapist, I love educating others regarding options they have to make their life better, easier, happier, healthier! Some people just need a mini-vacation, a little down time. Others may need to relieve the “joys” of being a weekend athlete while others may just need to feel “taken care of.” Massage is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle! — Kate Moore, Spa Esoteric in McKinney, TX

Sometimes emotions that have been stored in the body due to everyday life overwhelm the client and they just want to lie there and cry it all out. That is when I feel the “Therapist” in “Massage Therapist” really comes out. — Nickm Charuworn, Riviera Spa in Dallas, TX

It allows for a unique working relationship where the their bodies do the talking and my hands do the listening for deeply theraputic outcomes. –Riich Attridge, Andrew Michaels Salon and Spa in Salem, MA

It is a very beautiful and powerful experience that I can create harmony and balance between my hands and people. I am exceptionally honored that I have this skill and can be rewarded every day for doing what I love. — Soyoung Abbate, AVEDA Red Bell Spa in Hicksville NY

That’s what makes my profession worthwhile; helping someone and then seeing them blossom. The process of deep healing is what I love most about my job. — Tania Dzleiri, La Vita Bella Salon & Day Spa in East Norriton, PA

I actually go into a peaceful state of mind relaxing, that way, they can feel my calmness and my energy so I can release it onto them. — Zakiya Clark, Tirra Salon & Spa in Chicago,IL

After some nurturing, they leave feel re-energized, they walk a little bit taller and they have this overall sense of positivity that everything will be okay. — Marisol Fitzgerald, Namaste Organic Spa in Ridgewood, NJ

Personally, I love the scent of aromatherapy oils, of fresh linen, and the sound of soothing music as I prepare to help and heal the person lying on my table. — Linda Mclver, Smooth Synergy Cosmedical Spa in New York, NY

Having someone come to me in pain and taking them through the journey back to good health and being pain free is a very rewarding experience. — Maren Hockenbrough, All About U Salon, Spa & Boutique in McKinney, TX

As a provider I am constantly searching and growing. Scientific knowledge is a perpetual evolution; it finds itself changed from one day to the next. Proof is the beacon that gives direction, but can never be reached; the excitement for me is in the trying. — Dareyth Thornton, Rio Spa and Salon in Las Vegas, Nevada

What I love most about being a massage therapist is that I get to be an instrumental part of changing people’s lives on a daily basis. Massage therapy has enriched my soul. — Christopher Ruhulessin, Elements Therapeutic Massage in Orland Park, IL

What I love the most about being a massage therapist is the bond that I have access to create with people. Clients are always in need of relaxing their bodies in pain or their mind, and through all this time being helping my clientele I can say, there is nothing more rewarding that hearing: “You are the best.” — Gisela Moncada, Massage Envy in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Stay tuned through the next two weeks for a full Massage Therapist blog series, where you’ll learn all the wonderful benefits of massage and meet many more of these magic hands!

Lose Weight By Accident: Checking Your Email Makes You Fat

We’re all guilty of spending a little too much time focusing on technology instead of the world around us, from computers to the cell phones we can’t pry out of our hands. How many times have you narrowly escaped a walk-tastrophe because you were more concentrated on your phone than on walking. While it’s cool to be current, our addiction to checking in online may be making our current state of health suffer. This week’s LWBA is urging you to step out of your in-box and check in on your life.

By Sarah Jenks

Are you the girl who grabs your phone to check your email as soon as your alarm goes off in the morning? Do you find yourself anxiously responding to emails on your way to the shower and while you’re stuffing your morning bagel down your throat?

Are you the girl who checks her email on the subway, in the cab, while waiting for your friend for dinner, while your peeing, eating, walking, talking, sitting or standing?

Are you ever NOT checking your email?

I know you think that you’ll feel calmer knowing that your mom didn’t get hit by a car or that your boss doesn’t need a surprise presentation on his desk in 20 minutes (If there’s an emergency, they’ll call). I know you think you feel more in control when your inbox is empty, but if you really check in with yourself, I’ll bet you’ll realize that checking your email is putting you in a constant state of stress.

Stress releases a hormone cortisol that lowers our metabolism and retains body fat. Stress also causes us to over eat, because let face it, ice cream makes us feel calmer. Also, when we’re stressed when we eat, our bodies can’t digest our food, shooting our cravings sky high for more calories.

I have a client who used to check her email all the time, and I gave her the assignment of only checking it twice a day. Yes, it took her an hour each time, but her life completely transformed.

She felt relaxed and centered for the first time in her life.
She had time to read, work out and call old friends.
Her productivity at work soared and she got a promotion.
She lost 30 pounds.

And one day as she was coming down in the elevator NOT checking her blackberry like she usually does, the man next to her started talking to her and there was an instant connection. She asked him why they hadn’t met before? He said that he’s ridden the elevator together a lot but she’s always on her phone.

They’re getting married in 6 months.

Sarah Jenks, founder of, helps women fall in love with their bodies and lose weight through exploring the emotional reasons of why we eat. Sarah believes that you can talk about the benefits of broccoli until you are blue in the face, but real change won’t happen until we pull back the veil of fad diets and calorie counting to reveal the true cause of our over eating. Feeling lost about weight loss? Visit her website to download her free guide: “What to do if you feel fat, hopeless and ready to give up.”

Write it Down: Get Started on a Journaling Voyage for your Health


How many times a day do you use a pen and paper? Is your penmanship used predominantly on signing credit card receipts, writing to-do lists, or jotting down illegible notes? We type, text and click faster than we could ever write, but are we leaving something special behind in the dust?

Talia Tugman of Bite Size Wellness is bringing back pen-therapy. There’s a connection from mind to hand to paper that is something you can’t get with the useful, yet impersonal, keyboard and screen. Writing down your thoughts may feel foreign, but think of a hand cramp and a loss for words like working out some muscles you haven’t in a while.


By Talia Tugman

Remember the days of passing notes in class and hiding a diary under your bed? There was always something cathartic about venting via your teenaged, unfiltered self. These days you are probably lucky to even hear yourself think let alone share any thoughts with a piece of paper. Rekindle your love with your old sweethearts: a pen and paper.

You don’t need to be coined a “writer” or get all mushy and gushy with a notebook to reap the benefits of journaling. The act of writing in privacy is a space to cope with feelings, work through a difficult time or come to unexpected (but healing) realization which can be emotionally therapeutic in a way that even your BFF can’t help you attain. Physically, keeping a journal is known to be an outlet to counteract stress, strengthen your immune system and get your intellectual wheels spinning. And, the easiest to achieve for a die-hard with a diary or a newbie remembering how to hold a pen, is to use your journal to help you problem solve in a safe spot without judgment for those sometimes maniac-esque ideas. You’ll be surprised how much that little black book (not that one guys…that is the color of MY journal!) can pull out of you and how easily it can put you on the path to discovery. All this and it is sans doctor plus it is FREE! The point is to let it all go, grammar and chicken scratch handwriting aside, through a vehicle that allows you to self-reflect, manage your stress and seek personal growth.

Oh, and did I mention, journaling can assist you in untangling some of those nagging thoughts that keep you awake at night which equals more sleeping…and we all need that!

Here are 5 steps to getting acquainted with your paper and pencil (you know those things with the eraser on the end that we used to use before we got all techy and iPad-like):

1. Invest in a Journal: This may seem like a “duh” part of the process, but the type of journal you choose to purchase is an important decision. Do you want a notebook that is uniquely yours or are you a loose leaf type person? Perhaps you would prefer to type your thoughts in an online journal like Penzu or Diary. Do you like lines or blank pages? You want your journal to reflect your personality and bestow creativity, but also be functional to your needs.

2. Set Aside the Time: Having a journal that shows your character won’t do any good if you let it become table décor. Often times it isn’t the act of journaling that is difficult, but finding the time to write. Block off around 10 minutes every day to let your thoughts flow. Make it routine at a time that works best for you such as first thing in the morning, during your lunch break or as a time to reflect before bed.

3. P ut the Pen to Paper (or your fingers to the keyboard): When you get started stay far away from overthinking. This is not going to be graded or reviewed. Simply w rite whatever comes to you in the moment. Since your journal is for your eyes only, leave the judgments at the door. Perfection should not be expected, spelling errors or grammar issues do not matter and neatness is not important.

4. Share your Feelings: Don’t be afraid to get personal. This is a space where to-do lists or a catalog of the day’s events are welcome, but more importantly share how these activities make you feel on an emotional and physical level. Vent about negative emotions. Share positive thoughts. Really get at the life lessons whether good, bad or ugly. Those who really reach into their inner self have the most success with the health benefits that the written word can provide.

5. Keep it Private: Save the self-censoring for the times when you are in front of the kids or at the office. You should not need to worry about anyone reading your work or you won’t achieve the same liberating benefits that someone who keeps their journal private. This does not mean your journaling habits need to be kept secret, however, if you need to get a lock and key or password protect your journal to guard your privacy than do so.  Feeling confident that your words are for only you is a sure way to be authentic and candid with yourself.

Writer’s Block? Here are some “Dear Diary” starter ideas:

  • If you could have anything this moment, what would you wish for?
  • Discuss your most recent dream.
  • Make a list of what you are grateful for.
  • What are your challenges at work? At home?
  • If you could mend or strengthen a relationship who would it be with and why?
  • Talk about your best day. Your worst day.
  • Where would you like to be in 2 years? 5 years?
  • What makes you laugh?
  • Share childhood memories or adult experiences.
  • Write a letter to a loved one.
  • Or don’t think too hard about a topic and just let your stream of consciousness take you away!

Whether you are left-brained or on the creative carousal all the time, there is nothing like processing and recording your ups-and-downs in written form. Get friendly with pen and paper again (daily if you can). You won’t regret it!


Talia Tugman lives in New York City with her nearly new husband. In an effort to be in touch with living a healthy lifestyle in a new city, Talia is sharing enlightened wellness living information with others served in bite size portions on her blog





Letter via, Writing via, Tangled pencil via, Inspirational Quote Photos via

18 Tangible Ways to Kick Stress in The Butt, Starting NOW!

Self defense training

Stress is inevitable in our technology-ridden, lighting-paced, tornado-whirlwind lives. Heart Health Month is here to remind us – among many things – that stress also happens to be one of the leading causes of heart disease and heart attack. There are three types of stress: there’s Unavoidable Stress, which comes as a result of poor health, losing a job, or the tragic loss of a loved one. There’s Natural Stress, the kind we put on ourselves to be successful and meet our goals. And then there’s Avoidable Stress, such as running late, being disorganized and sweating the small stuff. Saying stress that many times just totally stressed me out.

Well, sadly there is no magic stress pill for any of it (at least not one that’s good for you), but there are some very specific things you can be doing NOW to relieve, manage and avoid it. Fight the beast with these 18 tangible things you can start doing right this second!


Before we get started, hear me loud and clear: There will ALWAYS be stress in your life. Always! It will never be perfect; the most you can do is to not let it overwhelm you. YOU’RE in the driver’s seat, in control, and your goal is to keep stress packed in the trunk: You know it’s there and that you have to deal with it, but it isn’t screaming in the back seat for more Cheerios. Once you accept that stress is inevitable, you just have to learn to make the best of it. That’s where the rest of this list comes in.


This is therapeutic for so many reasons!  Creating and maintaining meaningful relationships will fulfill you and help you live joyfully. Expressing your feelings freely, like you can with an old friend, is a great way to relieve stress. It sure beats perusing photos of random people you went to high school with on Facebook.


Carefree laughter is the OPPOSITE of stress, so you can quite literally turn a stressful situation around (temporarily, at least) by surrounding yourself with funny. Hit up a comedy club, call your funniest friend (which accomplishes #1 as well!), or resort to the world’s most ridiculous comedy parade on earth: YouTube. Start with THE FLIP SIDE – if you are a man or a woman, you MUST see this. And if you only have 8 seconds to spare… DARE YOU try to say this out loud.


Things happen all the time that make us upset, annoyed and downright furious. BUT, next time something comes your way – PAUSE. Before reacting from the gut and letting your emotions fly, take a step back from the situation. Assemble your thoughts. This short moment of introspection could save you from a turning into your stress monster alter-ego.


Papers everywhere, water bottles from god-knows-when, and twelve and half business cards laying around? I’m talking about my desk – and if I’m describing yours too, it’s time for an intervention. A cleaning tactic that’s worked for me lately is PRETEND CLEANING IS FUN. Smile! Put on music! Stretch in between paper piles! You’ll feel worlds better. Now on the count of three,  let’s both go get the Lysol. 1, 2…


Yes, this one’s a little more complicated than watching a YouTube clip. Debt and money matters are the sources of so much stress in people’s lives, and reduced debt always equals reduced stress. Try LearnVest, a great resource geared toward women to help manage finances and “live your richest life.”


Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is not only great for your skin and weight management (yes!) a good night’s sleep is guaranteed to help you deal better with daily stresses. Any amount of sleep deprivation diminishes mental performance, and this includes your threshold for dealing with problems. And annoying people.


What is it you’re passionate about? Helping people? Animals? The environment? Do some research on local communities – VolunteerSpot is a good resouce for parents – and get started! It’ll not only relax you, but helping a worthy cause could help you look at your own “stresses” in perspective. In fact, a study from the University of Michigan that followed 1,211 senior citizens for about seven years and found that those who volunteered just 40 hours a year lived longer than those who didn’t volunteer at all. See how some of our blogger friends give back.


You can’t be fully calm while holding a grudge. It takes work and energy to stay angry at someone; energy that could be going towards volunteering, taking control of your finances, cleaning your desk… you get the picture. Cleanse yourself of negative energy by taking the healthy high road.


You saw this one coming! Endorphins are your stress-free BFFs, and they are released from your pituitary gland every time you get moving. “Runner’s high,” which is the result of extreme endorphin release, has been known to create feelings of euphoria. You may not like the workout part, but you’ll always love the way you feel after it. It’ll not only reduce stress, exercising is your direct, high-speed highway to better heart health.


Take a whiff of a lemon, a mango, lavender, or a bouquet of flowers. It’s not just soothing; scientists in Japan have reported clinical evidence that inhaling certain fragrances alter gene activity and blood chemistry in ways that can reduce stress levels. Spas are really onto something with aromatherapy!


Blogging, tweeting, tumbling, stumbling… all these social media activities are designed to be fun, relaxing and self-expressing… thus stress-reducing. The hottest new player in town, Pinterest, is arguably the most fun and therapeutic of them all. We’re obsessed (follow us!), so if you haven’t started yet, close out this blog post right now (well, maybe wait till you’re finished reading), create an account, and get pinning (de-stressing) 5 minutes ago.


Alas, there’s the flipside of social media. Being connected all day long CAN be work – especially when it’s your job. Ahem. As soon as you feel like social media is starting to take over, power down your technology and take a breather.


One of the unnecessary daily stresses we encounter is that time period where you’re running late. You’re angry at traffic, you’re running down the sidewalk in heels like a lunatic (my M.O.), and the ONLY thing you can think about is how bad it is that you’re going to be late. Remove this stress from your life entirely by planning to get somewhere 15 minutes, even a half hour early. What better time to finish up those last few chapters of Hunger Games before the movie comes out?


Because how stressful is that? If you set unrealistic goals for yourself, you’ll be constantly feeling like a failure. You don’t NEED to meet your husband in the next six months, get straight A’s, or go the gym every day in 2012. Let life take its course at YOUR pace. Don’t follow commandments – follow happiness.


You read that right. Complex carbohydrates such as oats, fruit, whole grains and brown rice can stimulate your body to produce stress-busting, soporific hormones in a stressful situation, and also balance blood sugar levels. On the other hand, carbs like sugar, white flour, breads, pasta and pastries causes a blood sugar spike, leading to stress. Choose the right carbs as your stress-fighting ally!


For five minutes every day, sit by yourself – eyes closed and a smile on your face – and breathe consciously. This can be done as a morning ritual or to regroup in a stressful situation. As Elena Brower put it in her Daily Breathing Health Challenge: “Just sit and listen to your inner talk, and bring more breathing to those five minutes, without judgement. This is the most grounding, healing practice any of us can do.”


Ahhhh, yes! The stress-buster you’ve been waiting for! There’s no better way to reduce stress than a trip to the spa – and it’s not just for the relaxation benefits. The healing touch of a massage or body treatment stimulates circulation and benefits long-term heart health.