Lately I’ve been running. And not in a sporty way. Instead, in a Mila Kunis’ way in Bad Moms. Remember those scenes where she is always running. Running to drop her kids to school, running to work, running back to pick them up, running to other activities. And she’s also perpetually running late. Well, that’s me right now, yet just not wearing her killer high heels.

Life has been hectic and I’m struggling to keep up. I’ve just taken on an unexpected short-term project management contract which I love. But it’s keeping me on my toes.

It’s not quite allowing me to have the dreamy, goddessy pregnancy I had hoped for. But that’s a cool little thing going for me now – as I try to ensure that I fit calm and connection into my daily routine. You know, practice what I preach and wrote a book about.

So, today I wanted to talk about ways to keep stress at bay while juggling work, family, pregnancy, interests, business, friends etc.

  • Remember to breathe

Ok, Ok, I know we all breath constantly, it’s how we stay alive. What I’m talking about is conscious breathing. I remember working in a particularly stressful environment a number of years ago. One of the managers always seemed so calm. When I asked him how he remained so unaffected by what was happening, he replied, “I take 10 deep breaths. It’s cheaper than therapy and valium!” Wise words.

Deep and conscious breathing resets your whole body, as it gives a message to the brain to calm down which in turn sends the same message to the body. Conscious and deep breathing can help reduce the production of stress-making hormones, reduce blood pressure as well as your heart rate.

Breathing exercises

If you are at work among other people and don’t want them to know you’re giving your system a reset, try deep breathing exercises in a seating position. Breathe in to the count of four, hold, and exhale to the count of eight. Repeat in sets of three until you feel better.

If you have some space to stretch and breathe, try the ‘love heart’ breath. (I’m sure it has a more official term, but it’s what I like to call it, as you’re giving yourself some self love.)  Stand with your legs apart at shoulder width and knees slightly bent. Hold your hands in prayer position over your chest. As you inhale, reach your hands up above your head (still in prayer position).  On exhale, reach each hand out to your sides as wide as you can, and then back down together in a heart-shaped movement.

  • Get some exercise

When you are rushing around, trying to get everything done, exercise can be one of the things to fall off the schedule. Yet, this is the time when it’s crucially important, as it releases feel-good hormones. If you don’t have an exercise regime already, see if you can go for a walk in your lunch break, or get up half an hour earlier and go for a walk around your neighbourhood.

Or you could dance, which is great if you’re housebound with kids. Throw on some feel-good music and bop around the house for at least 5 songs. Maybe your kids will join in too – which will probably introduce some laughter, which fast-tracks those feel-good vibes.

  • Do absolutely nothing

This is so good, so delicious it almost feels naughty. There always seems to be something to be done, and doing nothing is quite a luxury for busy mums. But oh, doing nothing feels so good. The weekend before last my son and I were feeling peckish so we went to a local café / trail running shop for a quick snack. My husband was there, and so were a number of friends and before I knew it, I had spent more than 2 hours just sitting down talking and doing nothing.

For the first hour I felt guilty, as I was actually supposed to be writing this article (sorry Kiddipedia!) and had washing to put out on the line. But then I realised it was the first time I could remember in weeks that I had sat down and done nothing. I could feel the tension I was holding in my body subside and I realised that this is exactly where I was meant to be and what I needed to be doing.

  • Spend time in nature

Although it seems a bit counterintuitive to include this in an article that talks about juggling family and work, the benefits of being in nature are truly worth it. You see, when you’re in nature, nature does the work, not you. That alone is reason enough to go and find a green patch – I mean, you’re constantly out there working and efforting, isn’t it nice to know that for a change nature is out there looking after you?

Spending at least 20 minutes in nature is proven to reduce stress and instil feelings of calmness and relaxation. All without you even trying.

It’s really worth taking some time out on weekends to go to a nature-rich area – could be a national park or beach – and mindfully connect. Breathe in nature and have some fun. Your kids will love it too. But if you can’t get out to somewhere nature rich, it’s great to know that finding a park or green patch in the CBD during your lunch hour can do the same trick. Or even doing some gardening or hanging the washing out barefoot in the backyard. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list – but some of the ways that I’ve found helpful to alleviate stress while all the balls are in the air and I’m trying not to let them drop.

Maybe you’d like to share with us your favourite tip for easing your stress. Let us know in the comments.

You might also like to read:

Finding Balance and Time for Activity

The importance of me time: Part 2

Why Walk?