60-Second Stress Solutions

Make even the hairiest new-mom moments more manageable with these instant relaxation techniques.

  • Peter LaMastro

    When There's No Time for a Nap

    You're exhausted, but the baby's awake --so you're on duty.

    STRESS BUSTER: Leg Lean

    Lie on floor with butt an inch or two from a wall and legs extended straight up, heels resting on wall. Place arms alongside torso, palms up or on floor above head with elbows bent. Hold for 1 minute--or up to 5.

    BENEFIT:

    This can be (almost) as refreshing as a nap, so you'll have more energy. Getting your feet above your head gives your heart a rest from having to work to circulate blood from your feet--and relieves lower back tension.

  • Peter LaMastro

    When the Baby Won't Fall Asleep

    You're exhausted and frustrated; you need mental stamina to keep bouncing the baby, plus some release.

    STRESS BUSTER: Meditation

    Focus on your breath, noticing how the air feels as it moves in and out of your lungs. Silently repeat a calming phrase like "peace" with each exhale for 1 minute, or until you feel more relaxed.

    BENEFIT:

    Repeating a mantra allows you to focus on something, so you won't waste energy by feeling annoyed. It'll give you more patience so you can concentrate on calming the baby.

  • Peter LaMastro

    When She Cries Endlessly

    Nothing you do can stop the wails, and you're practically in tears yourself.

    STRESS BUSTER: Acupressure Press

    Use index and middle fingers to find the tender indentation at center of breast bone. Breathing slowly, apply gentle pressure for up to a minute.

    BENEFIT:

    This relieves anxiety and stimulates deeper breathing, which is calming. Focusing on the pressure also takes your mind off of any guilt you might be feeling.

  • Peter LaMastro

    When You're Trying to Leave the House

    The diaper bag is packed, and you're ready to go. Then the baby poops.

    STRESS BUSTER: Complete Breath

    Stand with spine tall. Exhale deeply, emptying out as much air as you can. Inhale, letting air flow in naturally, until lungs fill. Breathe 3 to 5 times this way.

    BENEFIT:

    This move helps you slow down so you can think more clearly and not worry about the delay. It also ushers in an energizing dose of oxygen and unlocks the diaphragm (which tends to tighten when you're stressed), setting the stage for your normal inhales and exhales to be fuller and more relaxing.

  • Peter LaMastro

    When You're on Diaper Duty

    Hourly changes can make you resentful if you're always the one stuck doing them. Reward yourself by stretching your aching muscles after each one.

    STRESS BUSTER: Arms-Up Standing Stretch

    With the baby safely in her swing or in her seat, stand with feet hip distance apart. Lift arms overhead; reach fingertips and top of head up. Elongate spine; press feet into floor. Hold for 3 to 5 deep breaths. Bring arms to sides; repeat twice.

    BENEFIT:

    Reaching your arms up helps release tension from your neck, shoulders, and back--and creates space in your torso, allowing you to breathe more deeply and keep stress at bay. This move also strengthens your core and legs. But perhaps most important, it turns an otherwise thankless task into an opportunity to do something nice for yourself.

  • Peter LaMastro

    When You're Pumping

    Trying to fit an extra session into a hectic day (not to mention fear of not producing enough milk) can be an especially anxiety-provoking experience.

    STRESS BUSTER: Brow Rub

    Before pumping, place thumb inside corner of right eye and index finger above inner edge of right eyebrow. Squeeze for a moment. Move one finger-width toward outside of eyebrow. Repeat until you've covered entire brow; repeat on left eyebrow.

    BENEFIT:

    This quickie mini massage helps reduce tension, which makes pumping more productive. It also builds some self-care into a somewhat monotonous routine, so you may look forward to your next session.

  • Peter LaMastro

    When the Day Has Caught Up With You

    You're tired and need to get dinner ready--and your baby is getting fussy.

    STRESS BUSTER: Supported Child's Pose

    With your baby safely in a swing or seat, place a stack of thin pillows on floor in front of you. Sit on shins with buttocks resting on heels. Open knees wide; bring pillows between legs. Fold forward, resting torso on pillows; turn head to one side. After 30 seconds, turn head to other side; repeat.

    BENEFIT:

    This forward bend releases tension from the lower back, hips, and neck. Plus, allowing the pillows to support your body makes you feel comforted and cared for--the way your hard work makes your baby feel.

  • Peter LaMastro

    When You're Stuck in the House

    You're itching to stretch your legs, but the baby just fell asleep.

    STRESS BUSTER: Tiny Trampoline

    Stand with arms at sides and knees slightly bent. Begin bouncing lightly on toes, letting arms go with the movement. Build up to a comfy height (feet may leave the floor); bounce for 1 minute or until you're a little out of breath.

    BENEFIT:

    Bouncing up and down releases physical tension from your muscles, raises your heart rate, and helps you blow off steam. It also builds a little fun in to your day, which can improve your mood.

    Originally published in the December 2010 issue of Parents magazine.

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