Feeling frazzled? Being stressed out is what most women have in common. Maybe not all of the time, but a lot of the time, especially when there are young kids and babies thrown in the mix! But if the whirlwind of a hectic life has got you in a near-permanent tizzy, it’s time for a metaphorical chill pill.
There’s no one silver bullet for stress, it’s true. If I ever invent it, I’ll become the Bill Gates of the Zen movement and retire. Meanwhile, I’ve got a collection of seriously great tips to offer…
STRESS LESS BY Making your home more tranquil
Lots of women I speak to see their home as a stress zone, rather than the harbour of tranquillity they need. Either they have lost control and have stopped trying to make sense of the chaos around them. Or they see the home as the one area over which they have some control – and then spend so much time and energy making it tidy and organised that this meticulously clean and tidy home becomes a stress generator itself.
Of all places in your world, you want your home to be a place of low stress. You should feel your breathing rate slow down as you walk through the door, not speed up in anxiety at the state of it! But the smallest changes can yield big results in bringing calm to your home.
I’m not looking for a magazine-style overhaul of your living room, but something as simple as a nice scented candle (placed well out of the children’s reach) and some chilled music can transform the energy in your home from mayhem to lovely. Even if you have little (read noisy) kids who go crazy by mid-afternoon!
STRESS LESS BY Harnessing flower power
Time to visit your local plant nursery. Studies have shown that plants reduce stress and anxiety, and increase productivity to boot. They do require regular maintenance, but nice-looking and well-nurtured greenery can do wonders for the soul.
STRESS LESS BY Using scents of relief
Be kind to your nostrils! Studies are a little shaky, but aromatherapists agree that scents really do help generate a sense of tranquillity. So here are my top five – sort of scientifically endorsed – aromatherapy oils to buy for your burner:
- Bergamot essential oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Sweet orange essential oil
- Rose oil
- Lemon oil
Remember when making your home a calmer and nicer-smelling zone with candles and burners, it’s safety first. Keep them well out of reach of the kids, out of areas they can be bumped and away from curtains and other flammable items in your home.
STRESS LESS BY Getting musical
Crank out music! Not the head-banging variety, but more soothing background tunes, because in countless studies music has been found to reduce stress. In fact music lowers levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in your blood more than serene-sounding pastimes such as sitting and reading a magazine in peace – not that there’s anything wrong than that, either!
Use music to transform your home…
- Make a playlist of feel-good music. Good memories from your teenage years that make you smile no matter what.
- Make another playlist of calming, soothing music. The kind that puts you at ease. It doesn’t have to be pan pipes and whale love songs, but it does need to make you feel tranquil and charm.
- Create a playlist with your children. Let everyone choose a song to put on a family list for dinner, fun times, calm times. Chat about what makes a song better for which occasion.
- Lower the volume. Go for background music. Don’t make the music your main focus.
STRESS LESS BY Noticing the small things
When you can’t see a large-picture tranquillity and happiness, put one together with tiny patches of happiness from your day. But you need to notice and embrace them: the feeling of the sun on your face when it’s shining, the sound of children laughing, the smell of a fantastic coffee, the look on your toddler’s face when he stands on sand or laughs. Those tiny moments can pass you by so quickly, barely penetrating the surface of your busy, crazy, stressed-out world. Don’t let even one little thing fly past without seizing it and making sure it sinks into your soul and adds a patch to your happiness quilt.
STRESS LESS BY Meditating
Mediation is just about the best way to calm down your world when life is a cyclone. Meditation takes on many forms. If you have an overactive brain, some complex forms, complete with chakras and omms and prayers, are way too difficult to master in a couple of minutes. But you can do a quick form of meditation that really, really works:
- Sit on a comfortable chair. Put your bottom right back in the chair. Make sure your feet are resting gently on the ground, equally weighted.
- Gently close your eyes – don’t scrunch your eyelids up, just rest them very gently together.
- Relax your feet, resting them gently on the floor.
- Relax your thighs, letting them fall into the chair.
- Let your tummy blob out, no holding it all in!
- Let your shoulders drop.
- Let your hands rest comfortably on your lap.
- Relax your brow.
- Unclench your jaw.
- Now take a long, slow breath in through your nose and out again. As you breathe, focus all your mind on the way the air feels cooler and sharper going in and warmer and softer going out.
- Just focus on the way the breath feels at the tip of your nose. If your mind wanders, imagine yourself gently scooping your thoughts back and placing them on the tip of your nose.
I feel calmer already!
This is an edited extract from Ginni’s fantastic book, How To Get Your Mojo Back: Every Woman’s Guide to Health and Happiness (New Holland Publishers, $29.95). Check it out!