The reason they always mention in the airplane safety procedure that you have to put on your own oxygen mask first and then help your kids, is that this simple survival skill doesn’t necessarily come “natural”.
My friend Gwen shared with me that she recognizes in retrospect how very hard she was on herself through her working and child raising years. When she reached retirement, her immune system collapsed and she is still recovering. Relaxation and stress reduction are a huge part of the healing process. She wishes she had known about the importance of relaxation when she was in the midst of her career and child raising years and hopes that at least many mothers will learn from her story and integrate relaxation in their lives before stress takes a toll on their health.
Most of us have to re-learn to take care of ourselves first. Here are a few ideas the wise mothers in my circle shared with me. Please pass them on to mothers in your circle.
Your Kids Are Teachers of Mini-Retreats
My friend Katherine shared with me that when she does all the household chores while spending time with her 15 month old daughter, she usually listens to the radio. “My daughter is usually content playing on her own for a while. One day, when I glanced at her, I saw her grooving to the rhythm of the music. What a great reminder for me to relax and enjoy the music in the midst of it all. I can get so focused on the task at hand that I don’t even hear the music. My daughter helps me come back to the present moment. It’s a gift!”
The six-month old son of a dear friend was recently diagnosed with a tumor in his brain that needs to be treated. It is inspiring to see my friend’s optimistic outlook and witness her moving forward graciously. She says that her son reminds her to relax and enjoy the moment. Here are a few moments of joy she shared:
* a laughing fit when he first heard the word book,
* the joyful discovery of making sniffing sounds,
* his delight in feeling the first raindrops on his face.
Mini-Retreats Inspired by Your Child
Take a moment to observe your child. Notice what your child is doing, learning or noticing. Participate in your child’s new discoveries or actions. Within seconds you will feel more relaxed and present.
If you are not a parent, you can also find inspiration for Mini-Retreats by observing the kids in your circle of friends or family. Pets and places in nature may also inspire you to relax.
Make Relaxation a Priority
You may feel that there is no time in your day to relax. However, if you look again, you may just recognize opportunities all around. Here’s what the mothers in my circle have done to make relaxation an integral part of their days and weeks.
My accountant, Diane, a mother of four, loves to treat herself with a soothing bath at the end of the day. Relaxing in her bath tub with candles and completely letting go is her favorite way to relax. Since I gifted her with The Mini-Retreat Solution her repertoire of relaxation techniques has vastly expanded. She now finds ways to take a mini-vacation in her mind several times throughout the day, even in the midst of tax season.
My friend Donna says, “As a mother of two boys (13 and 8 years old), finding ways to relax and refresh in the midst of it all is very important! I go for a short walk after dinner with my husband – no kids!”
Another friend of mine shared with me that she decided to make her morning shower her Mini-Retreat. Even though she has very little time to herself, being a new mom, this choice has helped her relax and recharge on a daily basis and she feels more energized and happier as a result.
My designer Kirsten tells me, “My saving grace with my first child was to get out hiking with other mothers. The babies usually just fell asleep and so we could have uninterrupted conversation, great exercise and fresh air. The forest and mountains are so good for the soul! We chose a specific day and time to start so that it was a scheduled part of our week. Rain or shine (or even snow) we went. If the weather was good, we’d bring a picnic lunch. If it was nasty, we did a potluck lunch at someone’s house to warm up, refuel and have some visiting time with the babies.”
How to Integrate Mini-Retreats into Your Life
* Look for opportunities in your day that could become a Mini-Retreat (such as your morning shower or red traffic lights). Write them down.
* Write down your favorite ways to relax.
* Schedule at least one of your favorite Mini-Retreats into your week.
* If you need support from your husband or a friend, make a request today.
* Stick to your schedule and make your weekly Mini-Retreat a priority.
Remember, this is YOU taking your own oxygen first!
Julia James, CPCC, PCC, M.Sc. is a multi-lingual certified life coach, award-winning author and International speaker. She helps busy professionals around the world achieve balance in their lives through individual coaching and workshops.For more information visit: http://www.juliajames.ca