Category Archives: Stress

#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.

    Some rights reserved by Alex(inyoureyes)

  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.
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#2 Get Outside in Nature

Today my only moments outside were between the backdoor and the car door.  Yet in that space I stopped long enough to watch the gentle drift of snowflakes, saw them land on my mittens and coat.  I saw their tiny shapes, adorned and ornate six-pointed stars.  I shared this moment with my children as we stood in the doorway of our van (yes, I do own a van).  Mountain Boy said “They are in your hair too!”  with a laugh.   Though my trade and training is as a naturalist, I have never been good at making time to enjoy the wilds.  Knowing that it is a good idea, for so many reasons, isn’t enough.  You have to schedule it until it becomes part of your routine and habit.

Why Go Outside?

*  It’s free

*  You will be getting a little more vitamin D – New studies are showing Vit. D is used in many more ways than previously thought, and apparently none of us have enough of it, at least none of us in North America.

*  You will get more and better quality exercise.

*  You will form connections – If you get to know your environment and develop a sense of place, you feel more connected to your home and your community.  You will begin to see new connections between yourself and your place, and others who live there.

*  You and your child will calm down – It’s mutual.  They are calmer so you are calmer so they are calmer so you are calmer.  It’s like a breath of fresh air, except it actually is a breath of fresh air.

* Your child may sleep better outside – Many people in Nordic countries believe it is healthy and ideal for children to sleep out of doors, and  use sleeping porches or cots in covered outdoor areas year round!

* Your horizon will broaden – The falling leaves, the call of birds will take you out of yourself and your experience and into the larger world going on about you.  This will help you put your stresses into perspective.

* You will find beauty – Even on the most terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

* Your senses will be awakened – It is easy to turn off your senses indoors, but outside you will use your whole body and your multitude of senses, including your senses of life, time, balance, warmth,

and movement (LINK to more information about the twelve senses and  LINK those senses in nature).

Lichen in Winter, by Rachel Castor

* Children who spend time in nature are better at: everything!

Studies indicate that children who play and explore outdoors are less stressed and may further benefit by learning confidence and social skills.

(Nature Rocks)

(C)hildren who play and learn on a regular basis in the outdoors … tend to have higher school achievement and test scores too! (Nature Rocks)

Research indicates that children feel respected and cared for when adults they respect spend time with them outdoors.  … They also tend to talk and communicate more, engage in conversation. (Nature Rocks)

Studies abound.  This is a hot topic right now.  If you need more information, email or comment me.  Read Richard Louvre’s Last Child In The Woods and The Wilderness Awareness School’s Coyote’s Guide.  Search the web for Children in Nature.  You will be amazed at the resources you will find.

Fresh air, fresh perspective, old idea.  You know you want to.  Put on your ski pants.  Grab those umbrellas and galoshes.  Go outside.

 

LINKS

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100603172219.htm

http://www.nwf.org/Get-Outside/Be-Out-There/Why-Be-Out-There.aspx

http://www.utne.com/2003-11-01/HowNatureHealsUs.aspx

http://wildwhatcom.org/

http://www.naturerocks.org/

http://www.childrenandnature.org/

http://www.childrennatureandyou.org/

http://www.neefusa.org/health/children_nature.htm

http://www.childrensnatureinstitute.org/newsite/


#1 Go on a Run

image re-blogged from http://www.laskikabackie.com

Every day in my house feels like an emotional war zone, with little bombs of emotion exploding everywhere, all around me, every minute.  Whether it is my own reaction to an unacceptable behavior, or a three-year-old’s tantrum, or a one-year-old’s piercing scream for a something she wants, I feel bombarded.  Recently I rediscovered running.  Not only do I get out of the house (aka war zone), but I get some fresh air, and I break a sweat.  Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve your emotional landscape.  Anything that makes me sweat makes me feel better emotionally, and react more calmly to the millions of daily crisis that occur with multiple small children in the house with an imperfect woman.

If finding the time, energy, and will-power to run sounds daunting, here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. GEAR:  There is some gear you need: a) running shoes, the most comfortable you can find; b) an exercise bra or two, depending on your breast size.  I find that layering two sports-type bras gives me the support I need for this highest-of-impact sports. c) jogging stroller or childcare.  My 12 month old has gotten used to my half hour runs and sometimes even takes a cat nap!
  2. PLAN:  It’s true, doing things for yourself probably won’t happen enough anymore unless you schedule it.  Plan to run at least two days a week, and try for three.  Running two days a week you will eventually reach comfortable plateau of being able to easily complete your run.  Running three days a week, you will be able to improve, adding miles or minutes to your run each month.  I enjoy running with one child in the jogging stroller, but find it impossible to run with two.  So I run on the three mornings each week when my eldest is at preschool.  Plan an hour for each run, so that you have time to run, walk when you need to, and stretch when you are done.  If it fits into your schedule, you will find you probably have the most energy and your children are the most flexible in the mornings.
  3. ROUTE:  Choose a relatively flat route to start (especially if you are pushing a stroller) that is at least a mile long, or at least a two-mile loop.  My run is about three flat miles.  Ideally choose a route that is unpaved (better for your joints) and not too rugged (again, the stroller).  Many towns have gravel paths along old railroad grades that are perfect for runners and bikers.
  4. STICK TO IT:  Make every effort to stick to your plan.  You will feel good having accomplished even this one small thing each day.  Over time, you will feel less stressful, more energetic, and more fit.  Put on your running clothes before you make any decisions about skipping your run.  Be firm with yourself.  I have a rule that I always do the whole three-mile loop, even if I choose to walk the whole thing.
  5. DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF: No one knows whether you’re out for your first mile or your 20th today.  No one knows your history, your injuries, your story.  Don’t worry about what other people will think.  Don’t worry about how you look.  You look like you’re getting out and about, like you’re taking care of yourself, like you’re running!