Feeling tired? Stressed? Overwhelmed? Stretched in every direction? Welcome to the club! Motherhood is tough. It’s relentless, sometimes tedious, and often tiring, I think the reason it’s so tiring is because as mums we worry a lot. We worry about all the things we are doing, and we worry about all the things we aren’t doing. We want to be everything to everyone and more often than not we put ourselves last. Whilst overcoming that natural nurturing instinct is tough, it is actually critical to our health and well-being.
The good news is there are little things you can do to boost your happiness—and keep stress in check. Here are five simple and effective mood boosters:
- Connect with your tribe
Talking through things with a great listener is such a therapeutic experience and can boost your mood instantly. A warm, attentive listener reminds you that you are not alone and there is great comfort in that. Remember, a problem shared is often a problem halved. Also, choose your ‘audience.’ Protect your energy and focus on people and environments that strengthen you instead of draining you.
There is something very powerful in the old saying that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Parenting can feel very isolating at times, so it’s important to connect with your community. For some it may be a mothers’ group, or local playgroup, for others it may be a church group, school community or online forums. Ask for and accept help from your tribe.
- Reconnect with a hobby or take up a new one
As mums we tend to pour so much energy into raising our little ones that we abandon our hobbies and passions. A sure fire way to lift your mood is to reconnect with an old hobby or pursue a new one. Set aside enough time at least once a week for your favorite hobby so you can attain a level of absorption known as the “flow” state.
At night I love nothing more than to disappear into a gripping novel, preferably to a place and plot that removes me temporarily from my own. It is escapism and it is wonderful! I also find that reading before sleep helps to settle my busy, noisy mind.
- Get moving
Exercise sparks the release of feel-good endorphins. This is good news, because the rewards of physical activity are cumulative: The more you exercise, the clearer your mind. I find that running three times a week is not only beneficial for my physical health but my mind, too.
Since having children I’ve learnt that it is more important than ever to take car of my mental health. Physical exercise plays a vital role in this. You don’t have to run though; simply get outdoors and walk and let nature work its magic on you.
- Do something for someone else
Altruism is a proven component of good health and happiness. It enhances meaningfulness, distracts from your own problems, and boosts your self-esteem. If you’re feeling a bit flat or lost why not do some volunteer work? Or simply look around you and do something kind for someone who needs it. Cook a meal, offer to babysit or simply tell a mum she’s doing a great job. Often the simplest acts of kindness have a lasting impact. You can literally make a mum’s day with one small gesture or a few comforting words.
Doing something for someone else increases empathy, which makes you appreciate all the good stuff in your own life. And gratitude is a very powerful mood booster. Some people write a gratitude journal. I like to mentally play back a moment of happiness from my day. It’s like a little “Gratitude Mind Movie.”
- Find calm amid the chaos
Sometimes we need to energise our mood, but other times we need to relax our mood and our mind. Meditation is known to reduce stress, anxiety, cortisol levels and improve our overall wellbeing. There are many different techniques. Mindfulness meditation teaches you how to be aware of your present moment without letting your thoughts run away with you. Even just five minutes of meditation a day can prove very worthwhile.
Since having children I have found that yoga is a form of meditation for me. The traditional definition of yoga is “Stilling the fluctuations of the mind”. As Psychologist Amy Cuddy puts it: “Our bodies change our minds, and our minds can change our behaviour, and our behaviour can change our outcomes.” So, yoga really is a powerful mood booster.
If meditation and yoga aren’t for you, there are other powerful ways to relieve stress. You can colour yourself calm. A repetitive, mindful activity such as colouring-in is awfully good for stress relief. It’s a therapeutic way of finding calm and it’s a lovely activity to do alongside your kids.
Remember this: your mood is your responsibility, so give these mood boosters a go. It will pay dividends for the whole family.
How do you lift your mood when you need a boost?
*This post first appeared on Kidspot.