These 10 go-to tips are quick and effective ways to build self-care into your day, even when you're feeling totally overwhelmed.
Whether your L.O. is a newborn, toddler, or big kid, chances are you're often running around multitasking, attempting to tackle a bevy of to-dos. It's completely normal to feel stressed or anxious as a busy mom. At the same time, it can be challenging to find quick, efficient ways to practice self-care. Yet, it's really so important. Pediatrician Yolanda Whyte, M.D., notes, "Just like how a flight attendant instructs you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on your child, busy moms will have to make sure they're grounded, balanced, and centered, so that they're in the right frame of mind to be able to handle all of life's demands."
Here, experts with a wide variety of specialties, from therapy to skincare share their go-to, 60-second self-care tips for busy moms.
1. Try this quick visualization technique.
"If you slow your breathing and use all five senses to visualize yourself someplace relaxing, it doesn't take long for the relaxation response to kick in," explains psychologist Kevin Hyde, Psy.D. "Do your best to notice all the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches for it to be most effective. When you do this, the same parts of your brain are activated as when you're actually in the relaxing situation, which is why it can be so powerful. It's just like a downhill skier visualizing their run while they are in the starting blocks. Since it only takes a minute for the relaxation response to kick in, it's perfect for busy moms who only have a moment to themselves."
2. Give yourself a hug.
"This is an excellent practice for gratitude and compassion," explains Linda Rubio, a life coach for new moms. "When practiced on a daily basis, it can bring your cortisol levels down and be used as a survival tool. Sitting on the ground helps synchronize the earth's and physical body’s rhythm to create connection and ground. It’s also a simple act of honoring the earth and giving thanks. Hugging yourself opens your heart and allows healing and forgiveness to take place. An uncommon act of self-care."
3. Treat yourself to a mini spa experience.
“It can be challenging to find a moment in your day to even finish your cup of coffee, go to the bathroom alone, let alone skip out for a couple hours, and do something for yourself, but It’s so important to find a little 'me' time," shares Lauren Wolk, vice president of sales at Goldfaden Skincare. "There is no better gift than beauty, in my opinion, and I can't think of a better way than to give yourself an infusion of glow, youthfulness, and reset for your skin." To that end, Wolk uses a mask (like the Goldfaden Skin Balancing Mask) four times a week while showering, explaining, "I swear it gives me the few hours of sleep I wish I had more of, a few years off of my life, and a glow that is certainly much-needed."
4. Prioritize your own nutritional needs.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but ensuring you're getting complete, balanced nutrition is key to taking care of yourself, notes Diana K. Rice, RD, The Baby Steps Dietitian. "In 60 seconds, you can pour a bowl of cereal, grab a hearty muffin, or even scramble some eggs," she notes. "As a dietitian, I too often see women who put a great deal of effort into feeding their kids only to forget that they, too, need to prioritize eating. Instead of waiting until your hunger overwhelms you at 3 p.m., take one minute in the morning and another in the afternoon to ensure that you’re getting a complete meal. It will make a world of difference in how you feel throughout the day. And whatever you do, do NOT make this food your child’s scraps. It needs to be a dedicated item just for you. You’ll feel better, AND you deserve it!"
5. Tap into this anxiety-busting trick.
Mark Zola, LMFT, LPC, of Eugene Therapy in Oregon, explains that anxiety is fairly common among moms, and this grounding exercise can help in the moment. "For 60 seconds, sit or even stand wherever you are and notice three things you can see, three things you can feel—the floor under your feet or the armrest under your arms, for instance, three things you can hear—traffic, birds, your breath, the furnace humming—and while taking a deep, slow breath: one emotion you are currently feeling. The idea here is to remind your body that in this moment, 'you are okay' and really don't need to change much, other than notice that you're doing better than your anxiety is suggesting."
6. Consider this craniosacral therapy technique.
Stress may very well cause you to clench your jaw, leading to all sorts of local discomfort. "Many people with highly stressful lives also have TMJ dysfunction," explains Hillary Tinapple LMT, CST. "If you notice clicking, popping, muscular pain or soreness in front of your ear at the TM joint, where the lower jaw is hinged to the skull, this self-help technique, which uses simple, conscious touch to relax the jaw, may be useful."
Tinapple advises doing this technique in two parts. The first: "Place your hands flat on the sides of your face as if you were lightly patting your face," she says. "With the broad, flat surfaces of your hands and fingers, notice what tension may be underneath. You may clench your teeth a few times and then release, or invite a yawn to let your jaw open." The second: "Allow a feeling of your finger pads gently sinking into your face," she says. "Use the weight of your arms to slowly let your fingers slide or glide down to the lower jaw, as if smoothing out your skin. Once you glide all the way to the lower jaw bone, 'hook' your fingers to it and imagine a very gentle downward stretch or traction as your hands take your jaw with them. Your jaw should become slack and slightly open. Repeat a few times, making sure to stay loose with your shoulders and arms. Try using the lightest force possible. Repeat up to five times daily, whenever you notice the soreness of your jaw joints. By doing this you are slowly 're-training' your jaw and neck muscles. Not only will this help the chewing muscles start to un-clench and loosen their grip on the TM joint, but it also helps to calm the chronic activation of the trigeminal nerve and structures in the brain that regulate high alertness."
7. Put your legs up the wall.
Khalilah Williams, LMFT, founder of Mommy Take Off Your Cape, an organization that empowers and educate mothers on the importance of self-care, shares her favorite quick, grounding self-care activity: "Lay on your back on the floor and raise both legs in the air and rest them against the wall. For 60 seconds, lay there and observe your breathing. Research shows that by doing this, your heart doesn't have to pump as hard which slows down your heart rate and makes you feel relaxed."
8. Do this chest opener.
"Our shoulders and necks tend to get overly tight and hunched from breastfeeding and from constantly picking up and carrying our babes," notes Jacqui Somen, a certified postnatal fitness specialist. "Doing this simple exercise for 60-seconds can make you feel like a whole new mama." Here's how you can do it in three simple steps: 1. Sit on a chair and place your hands behind your bum with your fingers pointing back. 2. Roll your shoulders back, lift up your chin and lift your heart up to the ceiling. 3. Breathe.
9. Enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy.
The scent of jasmine is a natural perfume that can promote relaxation and happiness while reducing anxiety, notes Puneet Nanda, founder of GuruNanda essential oils. "This feeling is caused by the scent crossing the blood-brain barrier, immediately helps release dopamine and serotonin," he explains. "Neroli comes from an amazing tree of bitter orange and puts the brakes on anxiety almost immediately. It also helps claustrophobia in car drives, creates harmony, and helps you stay focused."
10. Try this breathing exercise.
Dr. Whyte recommends this exercise for busy moms: "Choose a part of your home near a window with a nice view of trees, or have indoor plants or a bouquet of flowers nearby," she advises. "You can also choose to do this while taking a bath, or just soak your feet in water, listen to meditation music, burn a candle or anything else that you think would help relax you. I suggest closing your eyes while concentrating on your breaths, inhaling and exhaling slow and deep. Spend the first 30 seconds focused on your exhalations. Breathe out all worries, fears, self-doubts, demands, to-do lists, responsibilities and whatever else pops into your mind. When exhaling, you can even blow these feelings away, visualizing as you blow."
Then, once all the mental clutter is removed, spend the next 30 seconds focused on your inhalations. "Breathe in peace, calmness, serenity, relaxation, love, gratitude, support and any other zen feeling," she advises. "Sometimes, this may feel so good that you will start automatically start stretching your body, rotating your neck and arms, get chills down your spine or feel a surge of energy. Feel free to repeat this exercise several times a day, as often as needed to get your mind right, because when your thoughts are clear, you may find yourself accomplishing more, remembering more, having brighter ideas and just being a happier person, and most importantly, a happier mom!"