Category Archives: Relax

#8 – Take Five Minutes Every Morning

Spend five minutes doing something you really love in the morning

What would you love to do that you don’t have time for? Do it for five minutes every morning, even if you think it isn’t worth doing for such a short time. You can almost always spare five minutes.

Use a timer so you can just enjoy what you are doing without watching the clock.

From “7 Easy and Unexpected Ways to Make Yourself Smile” in Donna Davies-Bracket’s newsletter, Nurturing Home, Nurturing Life.

#7 Meditate

This is the post I have imagined writing since I started this blog.  But first, I had to meditate.  Perhaps you are like me, and meditation seems like a great idea, and you want to try it someday.  Maybe it in on your “to do” list.  I can be a little manic-crazy at times, and really low and lazy and slow at other times.  I was hoping meditation would help me out with this, with the highs and lows, with being more intentional.  I wanted to do it regularly, maybe even daily.  Of course, writing this now, I can say that though I have finally tried meditation, I am no expert.  Maybe no one ever is though.  Meditation is like that.  It’s an experience, an experience that is different for everyone, an experience where there are lots of ways, but no right or wrong way.  It’s a bit like parenting that way.  You’re never an expert, or else everyone already is.  You’ll never master it.  It will never be done.  You’ll never get a gold star for doing it, and if you do it right, no one need every know how much work you put into it, and how many wonderful things come of it.  Why would I want to do ANOTHER thing like that?  You may ask.  Because this time, it’s just for you.

I started with the book 8 Minute Meditation, by Victor Davich, recommended (and bought) for me by my dad.  It’s a very straight-forward introduction to meditation, and it succeeded in getting me stared meditation with very little fuss or bother.  I found the author’s enthusiastic praise and fuss around the actual practice to be pretty annoying, but still, I started meditating, eight minutes a day.  That lasted until the book was finished being read.  I hadn’t meditated since then, until I started attending a mindfulness parenting group this month.  The instructor introduced me to a series of free guided meditations available through iTunes here.  Wow!  Maybe these are just what I needed.  I’m really enjoying using ten minutes of my afternoon, while my baby sleeps, to tune in, and to tune out.  I hope to keep the practice up.  I hope it continues to settle me into myself, and into the world.

How about you?  What meditation practices have you tried?  What has worked?  When do you find time?

#5 Paint Your Nails, Go Ahead!

In the past four years I have gone from boafide hippie to chic Mama.  Yes, it’s possible to be both at the same time, especially in a hip, liberal, pot-growing town in British Columbia.  And yes, it’s possible I have been and always will remain both of these things.  However, my appearances, and how I keep them up, has changed quite drastically since I’ve gotten married and had children.

I have thought a lot about why I cut off my dreadlocks and began visiting salons, seeking out hair stylists, buying nail polish, putting on my face, shaving, plucking, and yes, even waxing.  These feminine routines of making myself up are things I haven’t done in years.  I haven’t been this interested in makeup, hairspray, and razors since high-school.  Perhaps the glitter, pink nail polish, and hairdryer I can blame on the resurgence of 1980’s big and loud styles.  But shaving?  There’s obviously more to it than that.

All these little routines take time.  If I want to blow-dry my hair, I have to make time to do it.  I have to ignore the children, set aside their wanting to be held, wanting to help, wanting another vitamin C wafer, for five minutes and just let the hot air of the hairdryer blow everything away.  It takes two hands.  I can’t hold a toddler on my hip, wipe a nose.  For five minutes, I am my own agent.

My new interest in making myself fancy is really just another way of taking care of myself.  Self Care is, for me, the most important thing a parent can do to maintain a happy family, a happy marriage, and healthy children.  It’s no different than putting the instructions on the airplane – If you are traveling with a child, put on your own mask before assisting your child.

In a recent parenting class I took in town, we had a long conversation about Self Care.  The instructor brought up the airplane reference, and one mother asked why in the world anyone would put on their own oxygen mask before putting one on their child.  She said she’d never understood or agreed with that instruction, knowing that she would always assist her child first.  For me, Self Care is self evident.  I have always been pretty good at looking out for Number One, for the only person I can really change, for myself.  That is my personality, my gift and my burden.  But even I have had to consciously carve out moments for myself since I’ve become a mother.  If I need help and reminders to do this, I know that most mothers do.

So go ahead, paint your nails.  Fall is coming, and with it, closed-toed shoes.  No one even has to know.  Buy a cheap little pedicure kit with a nail buffer and a file for your rough callouses.  After the kids are asleep or whenever you can wrangle someone else into watching them, give yourself an hour just for primping.  Soak your feet.  Rub lotion into them.  Care for your cuticles.  Buy a new color of nail polish that you love and slather it on.  Sit still.  Let it dry.  Read a book for a while, then apply another coat.  If you have time, put on a sheer top coat too.  If it’s sloppy the first time, no worries.  You just took an hour for yourself.  You can’t do much while your toenails are drying.  Fingernails are even more time consuming… forget helping your toddler to use the toilet on a midnight potty break if your nails are drying.  You’ll just have to get your partner to do that.

Revel in these little luxuries, or find some of your own that make you feel pampered, beautiful, and put together.  Even more important, make sure they are time consuming.  I mean it.  That time you take is an act, and it will convince you more than my words ever will that it’s okay to take care of yourself.

#4 The Power of Water

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Water is relaxing in so many ways.  Whether you touch it, hear it, or notice how scents change when the world is wet, water involves your senses.  Any sensory experience can ground us.  Take time to appreciate these moments when your senses reconnect you with the world, and with the moment.  We are just one small part of this world, but we are no small part water.

  1. Drink Water: In The Healing Power of Water, Dr. Batmanghelidj, M.D. claims that dehydration can cause depression, hypertension, unbalanced cholesterol, and other common ailments and diseases.  He writes that balancing water in the body can even alleviate pain!  If everything I read online about water is true, you will probably become superwoman if you drink a half gallon a day (not all at once).  Look at me, I’m chronically dehydrated, and I spend most days quipping at my spouse, building up steam until I yell at my angelic children, pulling my hair out, craving sugar, feeling sorry for myself, barely keeping up with household chores, berating myself for my lousy housekeeping, and crying at even the tiniest bit of sentimentality.  The connection is obvious!  Just imagine how much better off than me you will be every sip you take of clean, clean water.
  2. Take a Bath or Shower:You don’t need me to tell you how relaxing a bath can be.  Lock the door.  Add some suds, a few drops of your favorite essential oils, maybe some Epsom salts.  For the full escape, light some candles, drag in your boom-box, and turn off the lights.  I’ve even been known to sip some wine and keep a bowl of chocolate next to me in the tub.  If you need to escape, read a book or magazine.  Just the feel of the warm water though is all you need.  If you don’t have time for a

    Some rights reserved by AlexRK

    bath, take a hot shower, even if you don’t need to wash your hair.

  3. Go Swimming: You can usually find a pool open any time of year, and most have a hot tub, steam room or sauna as well.  Take anhour at the YMCA or your favorite health club to swim a few laps or do some water walking, then relax for at least half a hour by rotating through the hot tub, steam room, and sauna.  Go alone if you can, or take children to a family friendly pool that is warm enough for you to relax in.  You’ll all get some exercise, and you can’t help but having fun.
  4. Open the Window on a Rainy Night: Close your eyes.  Smell the wet world curling into your room.  Listen to the sounds of the rain hitting the soil, hitting the leaves, hitting your house, hitting the cement.  Breathe.
  5. Go Walking in The Rain: Go ahead, get wet!  Put on your galoshes and grab your umbrella and head out into the deluge.  You won’t want to.  But there are plenty of things in life that you don’t want to do, but are definitely worth doing.  You will feel better when you get home.  Just dress the part, and plan a short jaunt, especially if you are heading out with the little ones.  Let yourself splash in the puddles. Send little sticks and leaves down the rivulets alongside the road.  Watch where they go.  Throw pebbles into the manholes.  Get in touch with your inner child, or just let yourself be swept away and washed clean in the downpour.
  6. Visit a waterfall or rushing creek: Throw a rock in. Skip pebbles.  Feel the misty spray from the waterfall on your skin.  Watch the leaves moving from the force of the waterfall.  Bring your journal and make it a real retreat.

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  7. Go wading: Definitely bring your child if they are old enough to enjoy this activity.  Be sensitive to the environment – we don’t need to trample pristine habitat.  Find a well-used and safe stream or pond.  Get your feet wet!  Get your legs wet!  Look under (and return) rocks and debris in the water.  Find hidden pools and see the tiny rootlets in red and yellow lapping up water.  Getting wet is grounding.  Let your sense of touch come alive and your mental stress will melt away.  I recommend a pair of old sneakers and socks for this activity. Tie them very tight, and don’t expect them to ever be the same again!
  8. Listen to Ocean Waves: Even just listening to water can be calming.  I listened to an ocean wave recording during my labour and birth.  It was the only thing I wanted to hear.  The ocean is more powerful than you.  You can let yourself go in its presence.  You are nothing compared to the vast and endless sea.  Your problems are not problems.  The ocean can take you somewhere else, away from the stresses of your small life.  Let yourself be swept away in the sounds of the gulls and surf.
  9. Plan a Trip to the Ocean or Shore: If you are lucky enough to live near a large body of water, take a walk to where you have a view.  Seeing the open water horizon always balances me.  When you are motion sick it usually helps to look at the horizon,so that you can synch the visual information with your inner ear’s sense of balance and motion. In this same way, seeing horizon,especially the watery horizon, may help you find some sense of harmony.  And of course, get down to the surf, to the shore if you can.  The smells of algae and the feel of wind and the wildness of these places will help you to breathe deeply and relax.
  10. Do The Dishes: Ok, so I’m sure you don’t want to see this on a website about taking care of mothers.  However, doing the dishes with love and intention, while breathing and listening to music, can be a very calming experience.  Try to avoid doing any work when you are angry or resentful.  If you come to the dishes expecting to have a relaxing moment, you really can learn to enjoy it.  The water is warm, the soap is slippery, the bubbles reflect and refract the light so beautifully.  Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, and doing the dishes is like a spa treatment for you hands.  A miniature bubble bath.