New York is a city where parenting may as well be the next movie in the Mission Impossible series. Everything is urgent; everything is stressful; everything has to be done now. There are a million things we can’t stop worrying about: Work, taxes, mortgage, and especially our children. Nowadays, to be a parent means to take care of our kids’ physical and mental development, but to do so, we need to find an emotional equilibrium ourselves. Meditation and mindfulness are known as the best ways to achieve a clear and calm state of mind. But for parents who are juggling work and family at the same time, finding the time to go to a meditation class can be—again—an impossible mission. To help parents find their inner peace outside of a meditation class, we’ve gathered the best relaxation tips and techniques targeted at stress, anxiety, and worries.
1. Pay attention to your surroundings.
Whenever you feel overwhelmed, try to focus on the things you are surrounded by, such as sounds, sights, and feelings. This will force you to get out of your head and channel your thoughts away from worry and closer to reality. This technique will help you look at your life from an outside perspective and approach your problems in a more logical manner. Besides, being present in the moment will help you establish a deeper connection with your partner and kids, as you will be paying more attention to them rather than your racing thoughts and feelings.
2. Keep track of your feelings.
Have you been feeling too anxious lately? Or maybe too tired? The reasons behind your feelings can have more to do with biological factors than your own mind. If you have been feeling out of place lately, try to see what might have caused it: Among such reasons, lack of sleep, little exercise, too much caffeine, separation from your family, or even major events in your kids’ lives can contribute. Instead of blaming yourself for feeling the way you do, find the real cause of your worries and try to rationalize them. Once you find a solution to your problem or the real reason behind your worry, it will be much easier for you to shake off your stress and take a step toward a calm state of mind.
3. Meditate for 18 minutes a day.
Let’s face it: We are all guilty of spending a bit too much time on Instagram. Not only does social media make us feel competitive with each other, but it also lowers our self-esteem and encourages an unhealthy self-image. Next time you feel stressed, try spending less time on social media and use the remaining time to meditate. You can meditate in your bedroom, living room, or a park. The only things you need to meditate are your mind, concentration, and, of course, a desire to get rid of your unwanted thoughts. Eighteen minutes will be enough to bring you into a peaceful state of thought, quiet your mind, and then bring you back to life feeling refreshed both mentally and physically.
4. Download a mindfulness app.
If you are struggling to find the right relaxation technique, going to a meditation class is not your only option. Try downloading a mindfulness app like Headspace, The Mindfulness App, or Calm. These apps will help you create a perfect relaxation space without having to leave your apartment, and you will be able to meditate at your own pace on your own terms.
5. Try adding yoga to your exercise routine.
If you find yourself tired of your exercise routine, try replacing some of your cardio sessions with yoga. Yoga is known to reduce stress, decrease blood pressure, and lower your heart rate. Besides, yoga increases the effects of meditation by incorporating mindfulness into exercise. Short on time? Try using apps like Yoga.com, Pocket Yoga, and Yoga Studio.
6. Listen to the world around you.
Going on a walk with your kids? Turn this walk into a mindfulness exercise! Whether you are taking a stroll down the street or shopping in a mall, listen to the sounds and noises that surround you and try to identify them. This exercise will help you engage with the present moment, distract your kids, and teach them about the sounds that different animals and vehicles make.
7. Help your kids with their craft.
When was the last time you created something new that wasn’t a Word document? Probably either when you were a kid or when you were helping your own kids with their crafts. Next time your kids come up with an elaborate craft project, try not only to help them but to make something alongside them. Creating something with your hands can drastically reduce your stress and anxiety as well as give you a sense of accomplishment—and another reason to spend more time with your kids.
8. Start journaling.
If you are not a fan of conventional meditation practice, spending as little as 10 minutes on journaling might prove to be just as beneficial. You can have a journal for an entire family to use, where you and your kids will share the highlights of your day or plans for the future in the form of words, drawings, short poems, collages, art, or anything else you can come up with. Keeping a journal will give you one more point of focus and mindfulness and bring you closer to your kids and partner.
9. Get excited about story time.
Guess what? Bedtime stories don’t have to be boring! When choosing the next tale to read, make sure that its plot is exciting both for you and your kids. This way, you will be focused on the moment throughout the evening and establish a deeper connection with your kids. If tales are not something you are passionate about, you can try telling stories about your kids when they were younger, stories about your own childhood, or you can ask your kids to tell you a dream they recently had.