Our goals each year are to give away something kids actually want, allergen friendly, simple to hand out, with limited plastic waste, and doesn’t make our wallets bleed.
6 Ways to Reduce Stress RIGHT NOW
When I asked Christine to write this blog piece, I had no idea how timely and needed it would be. Our family is going through a big transition right now-- new jobs, new schedules, new daycare, no binkies, oh and I’m 33 weeks pregnant. Sometimes the stress of all of it leads to ugly crying on the kitchen floor or slamming doors or unintentional yelling, just as a way to release that anxiety. I won’t pretend that my situation is unique and I know I’m not alone, but I also know that I need a healthier outlet for stress.
One of my biggest fears about adding another tiny human into our family unit is my personal ability to cope with stress in the moment. If I am perfectly honest, I am much more prone to the outburst than I’d like.
I threw a cry for help out on instagram stories the other night for your favorite ways to reduce stress in the moment, and boy did I appreciate hearing everyone’s perspective. Also, super clear that some of you don’t have children and partners who work late (I’m looking at you “pour yourself a glass of wine and take a bath, shutting out the world” or “go on a long run”).
My go-to is the first listed below: a quick burst of exercise, (because again I’m the door slamming type so that type of powerful exertion is cathartic) but I also realize that early postpartum, when stress will be at its height, that may not be an option.
So what other ways can we quickly reduce stress, disconnect and create space between the stressors and our reaction without having to find a sitter or dedicating a large amount of time? How can we turn it around in the moment?
1. A Quick Burst of Exercise -- Tabata, HIIT, FP’s,
Exercise produces endorphins, which are “feel-good” neurotransmitters that improve mood. (1) Think of exercise as a moving meditation. Focus on the movement itself while connecting with your breath. Whether it be a simple walk or a heavy lifting session, continually connect your breath with movement.
Next time you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious, try a quick workout. Tabatas (a type of interval training with 8 Rounds :20 work/ :10 rest) are a great way to get the heart rate up quickly and clear your head. Release pent up energy by alternating squats and medball slams. If you need to move through slower, more intentional movement and breath work, flow through the BIRTHFIT Functional Progressions or try some sun salutations.
2. Intentional Breathing
Speaking of connecting to your breath, when was the last time you took an intentional breath? Next time you feel that stress building, pause and take 10 of the deepest, full body breaths you can muster. This can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system; our rest and digest mode, rather than our fight or flight instincts. The best thing about deep intentional breaths? Literally everyone can do this in the moment to create space between the stress stimulus and your response. Take a moment, close your eyes and breathe deep!
Journaling doesn’t need to be the “dear diary…” entry you may have done as a child, but rather it can be a great tool to organize your thoughts from the day, work through complex emotions, or uncover what is triggering your stress and anxiety. Try prompts like: The things that can help me most in this moment are… or Right now I am ______ and I want to be ______. Put the pen to paper, set a timer for 5 minutes and just write whatever comes to your mind (don’t stop until the time ends).
4. Essential Oils
Using essential oils for quick aromatherapy is an easy way to calm nerves and soothe stress and anxiety. (3) Scents like lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus help reduce stress. (3) Essential oils can be used in a few different ways. Add essential oils to a humidifier or diffuser to spread scent throughout your home. Some of the best oils for stress reduction are lavender, chamomile and frankincense while other oils like spearmint, thyme or clove may be too harsh to use directly on the skin. Experiment with different essential oils or oil blends to find what works best for you in times of serious stress!
5. Hug It Out
Hugs stimulate oxytocin, a soothing hormone that can help to decrease feelings of stress and anxiety. Hugs and physical touch make us feel supported and improve overall happiness. Family therapists recommend 4 hugs per day for survival, 8 hugs for maintenance, and 12 hugs for growth! (5) These benefits apply to any type of soothing touch like holding hands, cuddling or even a therapeutic massage. (4) Grab your kiddo, partner or pup and bring them in for a big stress-relieving hug!
6. Music and Podcasts
Playing your favorite music is a no brainer when it comes to in the moment stress reduction. (6) Put together a playlist of go-to songs that will calm you (or your little one). If you aren’t in the mood for music, listening to a podcast can help refocus your attention away from whatever is stressing you out in the moment. The wonderful thing about podcasts is that there are SO many to choose from on any topic you can think of! Don’t discount these simple tools that allow us to tune in to tune out.
What are your favorite ways to reduce stress in the moment? Have you tried anything on this list?
Exercise and stress: get moving to manage stress. www.mayoclinic.org. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469. Reviewed March 8, 2018. Accessed September 13, 2018.
Writing about emotions may ease stress and trauma. www.harvardhealth.com. https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/writing-about-emotions-may-ease-stress-and-trauma. Accessed September 13, 2018.
Lee, YL, BSc, et. al. A systematic review on the anxiolytic effects of aromatherapy in people with anxiety symptoms. J Altern Complement Med. 2011;17(2),101-108.
What are the benefits of hugging? www.healthline.com. https://www.healthline.com/health/hugging-benefits#5. Reviewed April 10, 2018. Accessed September 13, 2018.
Magic touch: six things you can do to connect in a disconnected world. www.forbes.com. https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolynrosenblatt/2011/01/18/magic-touch-six-things-you-can-do-to-connect-in-a-disconnected-world/#3f78ee9651af. Published January 8, 2011. Accessed September 13, 2018.
The power of music to reduce stress. www.psychcentral.com. https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-power-of-music-to-reduce-stress/. Updated March 22, 2018. Accessed September 13, 2018.
You may have heard the buzz about this new "miracle product" from Beautycounter: the Overnight Resurfacing Peel. TBH, I don't think any product deserves miracle in front of it unless it will also clean my house and improve my skin. But I digress.
So what is it?
The Overnight Peel is a leave-on nighttime treatment designed to improve the texture and appearance of your skin by reducing wrinkles/fine lines, age spots, scars, and pores. It's formulated with 15 different fruit acids: nine resurfacing acids that work together to renew the epidermal cells by removing dead skin cells from top layer of the skin and a second combination of six soothing acids that rehydrate and replenish skin.
Super fancy right?
How do I use it?
After removing make-up and washing face, apply 2-3 drops to face. Allow to absorb for about 5 minutes, then apply a night cream or intensive moisturizer.
So I keep my skincare routine pretty minimal. Cleanse, tone and moisturize morning and night with the occasional mask thrown on for fun. My skin really requires little maintenance. Because of this, I wasn't sure what adding the peel to my routine would really do for me. Many have had great results with reduction of age spots, acne scars, and softening the skin-- all awesome things, but didn't necessarily concern me personally.
But I gave the peel a shot and I'm SO GLAD I DID. The first time I used it, it tingled A LOT. It wasn't uncomfortable or painful, I was just surprised. I let it absorb onto my skin for approximately 5 minutes and then moisturized with the Countermatch Recovery Sleeping Cream (That's just a really long name for nightcream).
The next day, I woke up, washed my face (I use the Countermatch Cleansing Milk) and immediately noticed how much softer my skin was. Pretty cool. My moisturizer and spa tinted moisturizer glide on much easier.
After four uses, I started to notice a big difference. I'm a pretty expressionate person, especially with my brows (I have no poker face), so I've got some creases developing in my forehead. Years of surprise or silent judgement, I suppose. Anyway, the peel reduced these fine lines pretty dramatically. It also made the pores on my nose much smaller. Can't argue with that.
- Yup! I like it and I'm glad I bought it! I have fairly sensitive skin, so I was nervous to use something with such active ingredients. But my skin responded really well to it and I saw results quickly.
- Splurge or Deal?
- STEAL OF A DEAL. At $58 for a bottle, I would estimate that using this 2-3/week, this bottle will last at least 6 months. What does a professional peel cost? More. And if that is part of your care routine, this can extend the "life" of that professional peel, reducing the frequency of treatments.
- Vital or Just for Fun?
- I would honestly put this in the fun category, along with masks. It's a great addition to a skincare regimen, but not something that is absolutely necessary across the board for healthy skin. Prioritize a solid cleanser and moisturizer first, then we'll talk.
This review is based on my personal experience with the product and may not be indicative of everyone's experience. If you're interested in trying a sample of the peel to see how it works for you, feel free to contact me directly!
I've been taking my show on the road these days, sneaking a quick workout in when I can, and then freshening up as quickly as possible before my next meeting. Showers immediately post workout are RARELY an option. But rather than show-up at my next meeting a hot mess, I've stocked my gym bag with five essentials to help me refresh quickly and easily.
With the summer months almost upon us (and sweatier workouts waiting), now is as great time to refresh your gym bag with these five essentials.