Your health: The mother of all stress-busting tips
Taking care of you is a crucial part of parenthood, but lots of mums think they don’t have time. Abi Jackson rounds up some speedy tactics for a little fast-track relaxation and wellness.
STRETCH IT OUT
Yoga aficionados are well aware of its power to both calm and revive, and even taking a short time-out to practice a few moves could prove transformative.
“If there’s one thing I can encourage all mums to do, it would be a little yoga. It is so readily available — all you need is a little space — and incredibly effective for head, heart and body,” says psychologist and yoga teacher Suzy Reading (suzyreading.co.uk), also mum to five-year-old Charlotte and 18-month-old Teddy. “Stretching out releases physical tension, and (for mums with young kids especially) having that tool kit they can turn to helps to get self-care on the agenda, and an awareness of how important it is that they nourish themselves.
“Yoga’s the perfect tonic for lack of sleep and the relentless nature of motherhood,” Reading adds. “It also opens up the body to receive a more complete breath. Try a few mountain breaths and feel the positive effect on your outlook and quality of mind.”
It’s so easy to snack on the go, barely even noticing what we’re eating. Making the effort to prepare something nourishing could pay dividends for our bodies and minds.
‘The Flexi Foodie’ Julie Montagu, mum-of-four and author of new book Eat Real Food: Simple Rules For Health, Happiness And Unstoppable Energy (juliemontagu.com), is a fan of avocado on wholegrain toast. “This simple snack is perfect as it’s quick to prepare, filling and very nutritious. Simply toast your bread while you remove the flesh from a ripe avocado and then spread it on top. For an extra boost, squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice on and top with a sprinkle of flax seeds. Avocados are full of heart-healthy fats that protect your cardiovascular system and lower cholesterol levels, and a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants great for all-round health.”
STEP TO IT
It’d be easy to think a short walk isn’t worth the effort, but don’t underestimate the power of taking a quick breather — in every sense of the word. Staying fit and healthy is so much easier if we make moving around just a regular part of every day, but even the short burst of physical activity, coupled with filling your lungs with fresh air, the change of scenery and the chance to switch off, think and reboot the mind, could work wonders for stress levels.
TIME FOR TEA
Far more than merely a means for staying hydrated, the simple act of making tea can serve as a much-needed pause in a demanding day. Choose a tea that taps into your needs and moods for extra benefits.
“Tea is a vital part of my day,” says nutritional therapist Jennifer Young, founder of www.BeautyDespiteCancer.co.uk and author of Recognise Yourself, a beauty and well-being guide for people affected by cancer. “I have three daughters (aged 12, 14 and 16) and my brain knows the theory of how good tea is for me — I need the time out to drink and think as much as I need the caffeine.
“If I need to keep my energy high, jasmine tea is my first option, and out and about, I go for a spearmint green tea. Herbals take over from about 4pm, as I know I won’t sleep otherwise — liquorice and mint is my current ‘go to’ for a wind-down cuppa.
“Chamomile is the all-time best calming and soothing tea; almost sedative in its effect.”
Struggle to truly tune out? Maybe tuning in is the answer (bear with me). Lots of experts agree that learning the art of meditation can take time — and effort. If you’re not ‘there’, how about taking a musical-mediation break? Either put on the stereo or pop some headphones in, lie or sit down, close your eyes and let your senses completely engage with the sounds. Breathing more slowly and deeply will come more naturally, meaning a greater sense of relaxation throughout the day.