Simple Tips for Quick Calm

From Parents Magazine

Parenting isn’t always the most relaxing job—and it can be difficult to find ways to cope with the crazy. But believe it or not, even five minutes of “me time” can help you recharge and be more resilient, says Josie Znidarsic, D.O., who practices family medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine. Luckily, there are better ways to unwind than hiding in the bathroom. Here, health and wellness experts—busy parents themselves—share brilliant ideas for hitting the reset button.

Try a moment of mindfulness.

Practice this form of meditation by focusing on the present moment during everyday routines, says Kristen Race, Ph.D., author of Mindful Parenting. Before picking up the kids from school, turn off your phone and make a cup of tea. Use all your senses: feel the warmth in your hand, the steam on your nose, the liquid in your throat. You can do the same thing in the shower or while petting your dog.

Escape into a book.

Research has found that silent reading slows your heart rate and reduces muscle tension within six minutes. So break out your favorite book (or dive into a new one) and breathe a sigh of relief.

Re-energize with a smoothie.

It’s normal to turn to junk food when you’re tired or stressed. “We’ve all been there. You crave something sweet or salty,” sympathizes Jessica Gavin, a certified culinary scientist in California. For a restorative way to crush cravings, she relies on smoothies. For each of these recipes—all perfect for breakfast—just pop the ingredients into a blender for 90 seconds.

What’s-on-Hand Smoothie

Mix plain Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, greens like spinach and ground flaxseed. Use any combination to suit your taste, adding a tablespoon or two of flaxseed.

Matcha Green Tea Smoothie

Blend 2½ cups frozen sliced peaches, 1 sliced banana, 1 packed cup baby spinach, ¼ cup roasted pistachios, 2 teaspoons matcha green-tea powder, 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk and (optional) ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.

Carrot Orange Ginger Smoothie with Turmeric

Mix 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup carrot juice, 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger, ½ teaspoon turmeric and 1 cup ice cubes.

Try the nature cure.

The great outdoors can remind you that you are part of something bigger. Treat yourself to this five-minute exercise from Sarah Vulgamore, the spiritual wellness director at Canyon Ranch, in Massachusetts.

Minute 1: Find a spot where you can connect with nature, such as a patch of grass in the backyard or a peaceful window view.

Minutes 2–3: Observe and focus on the natural world around you until something catches your eye. Take deep, calming breaths.

Minutes 3–5: Think about how that one element of nature reflects something about you, and say or write down your conclusion. It doesn’t have to be profound: A thought like “the cardinal is red, and that’s my favorite color” will do the trick.

Snag some exercise endorphins.

Even brief bursts of exercise can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, research has found. Look for ways to fit in fitness throughout your day—from walking across a parking lot to biking with your kids after school. 

Color yourself calm.

Filling in a pattern can ease anxiety more than drawing on a blank page, so buy yourself a geometric coloring book, suggests Donna Betts, Ph.D., president of the American Art Therapy Association. 

Create an instant spa.

Did you know that there’s a spa hiding in your kitchen? Rhonda James, owner of Belly Up Spa, in Colorado, suggests these DIY ideas.

Honey Facial

Honey is both gentle and naturally antibacterial. Using your hands, lightly apply 2 teaspoons to your clean face and let it sit for a few minutes. Moisten fingertips with water and rub in a circular motion to exfoliate. Leave the honey on for another minute, then wipe off with a warm washcloth.

Lemon Elbow-Smoothers

Cut a lemon in half and rub on your elbows to smooth the rough stuff. James suggests you can extend the treatment by placing the lemon halves on a table so you can close your eyes and “soak” your elbows in them for five minutes.

Coconut Oil Hand Treatment

Coat your hands with coconut oil, then put on disposable powder-free vinyl gloves. “If you have a heating pad, turn it on and place it on top of your hands to help the oil soak in,” recommends James. Remove the gloves after five minutes to find softer skin!

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