Managing a household of little kids is a full-time occupation: Wake, wash, dress, feed, repeat. With all that needs to be done, finding time to take care of your own physical and psychological wellness can feel impossible. These quick and easy wellness tips can help you help yourself.
1. Commit to 27 minutes of daily mindfulness. That’s the amount researchers found resulted in measurable changes in the gray matter of people’s brains, increasing density in areas responsible for feelings of compassion and decreasing it in areas related to stress and anxiety. You don’t have to practice mindfulness for 30 minutes straight — sit quietly and contemplate your breathing for 10 minutes in the morning and a few more at night.
2. Walk in the woods. One study shows that a 20-minute stroll through your local park can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and increase the feeling of happiness. Scientists have found that natural environments activate our parasympathetic nervous system (feelings of relaxation) while suppressing the sympathetic system (fight-or-flight feelings). If the park is too far, consider filling your favorite reading nook with more plants.
3. Add turmeric to your cooking. You might know it as the spice that turns curry dishes yellow, but turmeric also helps with life’s ills. To wit: Studies have found it to be a powerful anti-inflammatory (good for sore muscles), antioxidant (can help you feel and look younger), and a protector against heart disease. Whew.
4. Sprinkle lavender essential oil on your pillow. Just a drop or two can help induce a sense of calm.
5. Set up a relaxation zone in your home. It’s important to have a stress-free space in your life, so make sure there’s a comfortable, distraction-free space in your home where you can exercise, nap, and relax.
6. Limit blue light before bed. If you’re checking texts and email right up until lights out, you’re setting yourself up for a lousy night of sleep — and not necessarily because you’re stressing about work. The blue light emitted by your tech devices sends signals to your brain that inhibit the production of melatonin, a chemical that makes you feel drowsy. Put away your phone and laptop an hour before bed to help your night be a restful one.
7. Carve out your own space. Contrary to what early 21st-century architects thought, it turns out that open seating plans can inhibit productivity. Workers in open offices spend an undue amount of time making phone calls from stairwells and empty conference rooms instead of sitting at their desks, research shows. Find yourself a little piece of personal space at work or home where you can take a minute for yourself to just breathe.
8. Build the perfect breakfast bowl. Oats + walnuts + berries + cinnamon + milk = Awesome way to start your day.
9. Do the plank. Planks are an essential, effective workouts move, if you do them right: Start lying face-down on the floor, torso propped up on your elbows. Engaging your core, raise your body up onto your forearms and toes, making sure your body forms one long line from shoulders to feet. Hold this position as long as you can, working your way up to 90 seconds.
10. Manage your money. Money worries are one of the biggest sources of stress for parents. Saving for college, home mortgages, and big-ticket items like a new family car can cause serious angst. Create a priority list with your partner of purchases you want to make this year, then figure out how much of the household budget you’ll need to set aside each week to help you reach your goal. While you’re at it, make sure your credit card works harder for you.
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