Heads up, mama!
Missed the previous post in this series? Click here.
6) Utilize Your Phone’s ‘Do Not Disturb’
I cannot live without the Do Not Disturb mode on my iPhone. Seriously, ya’ll.⠀
In order to maintain my sanity and protect my evenings, my phone is scheduled to automatically go into “do not disturb” at 7 pm every night.
And with Apple’s newest iOS 15 release, they’ve introduced Focus, which allows you to customize this feature even more. (If you’re an iPhone user, too, you can learn more about setting this up here).⠀
Of course, I realize that’s probably a little early to begin silencing phone notifications, texts, and calls, but that’s what works for me. I just don’t want pings to disturb me while I’m trying to wrap up my evenings.⠀
For me, this mode carries on until 7:45 am. That’s because I don’t want to look at my phone and see a bunch of notifications first thing when I wake up, which usually happens between 6-6:30 am.
To me, if I’m bombarded with a home screen full of notifications when I wake up, that’s far too much information for my mind to handle. As a highly sensitive person, delaying when my phone unlocks essentially protects my mornings so that I can ease into my day – versus feeling the adrenaline and stress that my phone notifications can sometimes trigger.
The other bonus of setting my phone up this way is I’m never woken up in the middle of the night because of my phone.
Together, these features help me keep my stress levels in check and promote a restful night’s sleep.⠀
For more tips on how to silence your gadgets so you can get good sleep, check out this article from Wired.com.
And if you need extra tips for creating a bedtime routine that helps wind you down, check out my post: These 4 Bedtime Tips Will Help You (and Your Kids) End Your Day Peacefully
7) Stick to a Regular Eating Schedule
The science behind craving sugar when you’re stressed is quite interesting. ⠀
When you’re stressed, your body creates more cortisol (a stress hormone).⠀And to counter the increase in cortisol, your body gives you sugar cravings so that it can then create another hormone called serotonin.⠀
Serotonin (a feel-good hormone) helps you relax and calm down.⠀
So yes, eating something sweet will temporarily make everything feel all good with the world. However, it’s important to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range. Especially since you have kiddos to look after.
If it dips too low, your adrenal glands will produce – you guessed it – more cortisol. Which then makes you want to eat sugar so you can correct your sugar levels.⠀⠀
If you spike your sugar levels by binge eating a carton of ice cream, when your blood sugar crashes, you could experience fatigue, mood swings, and headaches.⠀⠀
I don’t know about you, ain’t nobody got time for that.
As yummy as it sounds to eat the entire carton of rocky road after a crazy busy day, I’m resisting the temptation because I know that will just put extra stress on my body. And I don’t need to add any more stress to my life right now.
Do your best to eat at regular intervals, mama. I know it’s hard because I struggle with this, too. Just remember that the longer to go without eating, the most likely you’ll experience that added dose of stress which causes those sugar cravings. By that point, you know that you’ve waited far too long.
8) Take Deep Breathes
It’s been a long 19 months since the covid pandemic began and I don’t know where my head would be were it not for taking deep breathes.⠀
- When a news headline triggers anxiety, I pause to take a deep breath.⠀
- When my kids are arguing with each other (again), I pause to take a deep breath.⠀
- When I feel myself losing my patience, I pause to take a deep breath.⠀⠀
The breath itself doesn’t change anything. But it changes EVERY. THING.
- Breathing deep doesn’t change the news headlines.⠀
- Breathing deep doesn’t stop the kids from arguing.⠀
- Breathing deep doesn’t erase all my frustrations.⠀
No. What breathing does is remind me that the only thing I can control is my SELF.⠀
- I can choose to let the news headline stir up negative thoughts and fears or I can stop myself from spiraling by taking a deep breath and remind myself that “I am safe and I’m healthy.”⠀
- I can choose to let the unrealistic expectation that my kids will never argue keep me frustrated or I can take a deep breath and remember that arguing is going to sometimes happen.⠀
- I can choose to play a script in my mind that says “I hate all these restrictions” or I can take a deep breath and remind myself that this situation is only temporary.
9) Get Your Stretch On
Okay, so you don’t have to do yoga every day like I have been for 2021, but I highly recommend practicing a few times a week – even if it’s just for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.
I’ve been using stretching as a way to manage pain (brought on by stress) since 2015.
Sometimes that looked like doing an entire 30-minute yoga video from my favorite yogi @sarahbethyoga. ⠀
Other times, it just looks like doing a few cat/cow poses followed by a downward dog (to release lower back discomfort from standing too long).⠀
But aside from the obvious benefits (pain relief and injury prevention), stretching is a great way to reduce stress and calm your mind.⠀
A video as short as 10 minutes is usually more than long enough to help me recenter if I’m having a crazy day.⠀
If you’ve never tried yoga and are looking to use it to reduce stress, but you’re intimidated by the complicated poses, I highly recommend that you try a relaxing form of yoga called yin yoga. ⠀
On Sarah Beth’s YouTube channel, you’ll find that she’s color-coded her videos depending on the focus. Just look for the purple videos or find her Restorative playlist and start there.⠀
Side note: Sarah’s my favorite online yoga instructor because she only guides you along in the poses. She doesn’t talk more than she needs to. I’ve found her style of teaching to be closest to what I’d get if I went to an actual yoga studio (which I’ve done a time or two). I’m currently paying for her membership and it’s been absolutely worth it.
10) Practice Self-Massage
When massage therapy was labeled “non-essential” in the early days of the pandemic, I desperately missed being able to schedule an appointment to help release the stress I tend to carry in my shoulders.
(If you’re a massage therapist, please know that I consider you to be a very essential part of maintaining my sanity. I’ve since added “massage therapist” to my list of people I want to one day hire to live with me (along with a housekeeper and personal chef). What? A girl can dream, right?)⠀
Anyway, I find it no coincidence that right when covid-19 was making bigger headlines, I started to experience neck discomfort.⠀
With the help of YouTube (and after some doctor visits to make sure nothing serious was happening), I learned how to release some of my tight neck muscles that were creating ear pain.⠀
I’m not one to complain about pain (I gave birth to my last 2 kids without drugs), but my neck issue was annoying and made me feel aggravated.⠀
And an aggravated mama is not a happy mama!
So, I practiced some self-massage and, like magic, I felt much better.
But I’ve been doing self-massage (trigger point release) between massages for years now, which is why I felt comfortable enough to work on my neck this time.⠀
If you want to give self-massage a try, trust your gut and only do what you feel comfortable doing. ⠀
And if massaging your shoulders causes you to feel more pain, please stop. Always talk to your doctor if you experience new pain that you’ve never experienced before to rule out something serious.⠀
Otherwise, if a massage sounds lovely, see if your partner can help you massage away the stress. ⠀
If you’re looking for a reliable resource to help you learn more about your body’s aches and pains, check out Bob and Brad’s YouTube channel. They’re both physical therapists and I’ve learned a lot from them since discovering them in nearly 2020.
To recap this second post in the series, here are ways 6 through 10 to reduce stress without leaving home:
- Utilize your phone’s do no disturb feature as a way to protect your energy during times of the day when you want to relax.
- Stick to a regular eating schedule to avoid blood sugars dropping so low that your body has to create more cortisol.
- Take deep breaths, mama. It will be alright.
- Use stretching, like yoga, as a way to release tension and tightness in your body and reduce stress.
- Learn how to give yourself a self-massage and release some trigger points.
This week, try and incorporate some of these into your day. Grab a sticky note, write these down and stick it on your bathroom mirror as a reminder.
Remember: Reducing stress isn’t about being perfect: it’s about trying your best. Just being aware and getting educated on how stress negatively affects your life is a step in the right direction. Applaud yourself for making it this far.
In two weeks, I’ll be back with the third part of this series where I’ll reveal 5 more ways to reduce stress without leaving home. Be sure you are subscribed to my email list so that you are notified when that is published. As a subscriber, you’ll also get my monthly email, “The Calm Download,” an encouraging email sent only to my biggest fans.
For even more tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @laurens.life.plans. I post nearly every day, whether that’s a motivational quote, encouraging words, or functional planning tips. I also try and share some of my day-to-day self-care activities over in my stories. If you enjoy my blog posts and emails, you’ll enjoy what I share on IG.
Be sure to reach out to me to let me know if anything I’ve shared here today has helped you in some way. Send me a DM on IG or leave a comment below. And, of course, if you found this helpful, consider sharing it with a friend.