Some days it feels like the only guarantee life provides is that it’s going to be messy and bumpy. During these times, instead of traveling to Bali you might instead be reading about it in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Or catching the movie version on Netflix.
The chaos of running from one activity to another has been replaced with lots of unplanned family time that has you searching the internet for “she-sheds.”
While you have less overfilled days, you struggle with a different kind of stress that keeps your nervous system on high alert. Your head and heart need a chance to rest. And simple ways to boost your mood.
#1-7 Ways to Boost Your Mood
The following are simple practices that bring you more into the present moment. In any mindfulness practice, consistency is more important than how long you to do it or what method you choose for stress relief.
I pulled together a list of activities you can do right now, in only a few minutes, with little to no cost.
1. Read a book (a FUN book, not work related)
2. Read a magazine (I love People magazine)
3. Sit on your patio
If I can’t make it to the patio, I hide myself in the closet with the lights out and just sit. I listen to my breath and enjoy the silence (Yes, I love silence). If my mind is really active, I might repeat an affirmation (or mantra) or count my breaths.
Sometimes finding ten minutes of peace and quiet happens at ten-thirty at night when everyone in the house is asleep. For early birds, this can mean waking before everyone else does.
4. Drink your coffee while listening to the birds
5. Take a nap
6. Take a walk (or take your dog for a walk)
I’m not sharing rocket science tips here. There’s no big mysteries to walking. However I have one suggestion. Go without “stuff.” Like your phone, playlist, the dog, the kids. Those, unfortunately, are all distractions.
This also isn’t a pump your arms, push the baby stroller, work-out kind of walk. This is a leisurely stroll.
As you’re walking, connect with your breath and find a rhythm between your steps and your breath. Then take notice of what you haven’t before. I like to make it a game. How many new or different things can I find this time?
6. Grab your kids crayons and color for a while.
You can also use the crayons, or colored pencils, and shade in mandalas while playing relaxing music.
Join the free resource library for yoga teachers and download you own mandalas to color.
#8-22 Ways to Boost Your Mood
8. Bribe a family member to rub your feet with coconut oil and lavender essential oil.
My son loves this and I’m pretty fond of the practice, too. Maybe you can trade foot rubs.
9. Go to the park
10. Take a bath
11. Take a social media sabbatical
With so much information (good and bad) spreading through social media, one of the biggest gifts you can give your mind is to shut it all off for a while. Remove the apps from your phone and vow to go 24-hours without checking in.
12. Go to a dog park and watch the dogs frolic
13. Take your dog to a dog park
Somewhere along the path to “maturity” we lose our abilities to play and have fun. Responsibilities outweigh running around in the sprinklers. When in the world did we wake up with sticks up our butts?
Women don’t get in the pool with their kids because they feel fat in their bathing suits. Men work, work, work and when they come home are too exhausted for a romp around the room with the kiddos. (Or maybe men feel fat in their swim trunks and women work too much.)
Stress releases hormones jack you up, and not in a good way. Laughter releases endorphins that mellow you out, totally in a good way.
14. Sit by a fountain
15. Check out a digital book from your local library.
16. Watch an In-Theater Rental movie from home.
Amazon is streaming current release movies. Turn off the lights, make some popcorn, toss in some m&ms, and enjoy the show.
18. Listen to relaxing music
19. Do something creative (crafts, write, sew, knit)
20. Fun movement like dancing, hula-hooping
21. Get closer to nature. (A walk or hike, sitting on a park bench)
22. Plan a vacation or stay-cation
Maybe traveling isn’t high on your priority list right now, but there’s fun and adventure in planning. Research different locations you could visit, hotels to stay in, and activities to do in the area.
Do prefer the waves and warmth of a Caribbean beach or the hustle and bustle of Disney World?
#23-26 Ways to Boost Your Mood
23. Have a girl’s night out (or in)
24. Watch a Friends or Big Bang Theory marathon (laughing decreases stress)
25. Do some stretching yoga at home (not the hot-vin-hell kind)
Stress likes to hang out in your muscles and stretching is a great way to break up the party. We all need to trust our bodies more, believe it when it’s telling you what it needs.
And yes, you don’t need an hour for it to be beneficial. Ten minutes here and there really will make a difference.
26. Do something you enjoy (if it wasn’t already listed)
Reading is my number one way to re-charge. In what could only be a prophetic moment, last week I bought a new book from Target. However, it’s sat on my nightstand until 10:00 last night when I desperately needed to escape. It helps my mind let go of the worries, and gives the hamster a break from her wheel.
What do you enjoy doing? Knitting, crossword puzzles, painting, journaling. . .pick your favorite and disappear into it for ten minutes. Even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom to do it.
Your family will thank you for it.
Ok, probably not, but your sanity will.