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

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

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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.

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 BiteSizeWellness.com.

 

 

 

 

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