I love my kids more than anything on this whole planet, but I have a confession: Summer break is ROUGH for me some days, and back-to-school season can be pure chaos. From helping the oldest return to college to making sure the little ones have enough crayons and glue sticks for their desks, my lists are endless. I would never give up working for myself because it gives me so much flexibility to be with them, but being a mom of five while trying to work on 85 projects of my own (give or take) all at once isn’t easy.
I know that I talk about meditation all day every day, but even though I need only four minutes to get to my serene place, the truth is that meditation isn’t necessarily my only way to keep my calm when the kids are running circles around me and I have deadlines to meet. I use a lot of different practices throughout the day to manage my mood and keep stress at bay as a mom of five kids.
Here are seven easy solutions beyond meditation to take you from stressed to blessed in just a few minutes:
1. Follow your breath.
I know that breathing plays a big part in meditation, but it can be powerful on its own, too. Here’s what I do: I take a few moments to just pay attention to my breath. It’s as simple as it sounds: I notice that I’m inhaling, and I notice that I’m exhaling. I don’t try to change it or slow it down; I just acknowledge it as it is in the moment. Instant Zen!
2. Just say NO.
I like to say yes to things that serve me and bring me joy, but sometimes the best way to de-stress is to say NO. There is a power in carving out my own private bubble and not letting too many commitments bring me down. Make this a practice by creating visual space in your calendar. I use a physical paper planner, so it’s easy for me to glance at my whole week at once to make sure it’s not too packed. I like to see lots of white space in the evenings and on weekends—that’s time for family and having unscheduled fun.
3. Supplement naturally.
I like to manage my stress naturally with a little help from Natrol 5-HTP. It’s a really amazing supplement that helps to reduce occasional stress and anxiety and supports a calm and relaxed mood throughout the day. What I love about it is that it’s totally drug-free; it’s a natural, plant-derived amino acid that helps balance the body's serotonin levels. Since serotonin is how the body naturally balances mood, 5-HTP just gives my body a hand in getting my brain where it needs to be to keep from pulling my hair out on crazy days. Plus, you can find it in fast-dissolve and time-release form factors to suit your specific needs.
4. Netflix and (actually) chill.
When everything gets to be a little too much, I am not at all opposed to calling a timeout—for myself. I love to get caught up in streaming series, ones with a ton of episodes that I can just lose myself in. Trust me, there’s nothing like a Mad Men or Sex in the City marathon to make you forget your own problems for a brief while.
5. Be a kid again.
Coloring books for grown-ups have been all the rage the past couple of years—and for good reason—but I like to make my own drawings. I create Bliss Notes (hand-doodled affirmations) that I share on social media. The joy that comes from creating something beautiful and inspirational is so good for the soul. Treat yourself to some brand-new gel pens, fancy paper, and give it a try. Or pick any creative project that captures your imagination and makes you feel like a kid again.
6. Give up and give in.
No, not in the "throw everything in the garbage and set it on fire" sense (even though it’s tempting sometimes!). But when all else fails, I remember that I created this life by design. I wanted to work in an environment where I could put myself in control of my time and be here with my family. That’s when I put the work aside—as much as I can—and practice "allowing." I give up any resistance to my present circumstances and let myself enjoy my family. If they won’t let me work because they want to play, then maybe that’s exactly what I should be doing. Some days that’s all I need to shut up the stress and live my absolute best life. There’s always tomorrow to get back to work.
7. Get outside—like, now.
I’m lucky—I live on a beautiful farm with lots of land, far away from the noise of the city. I can take a walk around my property, or I can go hang out with my barnyard friends (we adopted goats, pigs, ducks, and a flock of chickens). Getting out of the house and into nature brings me back to a calm state every time. Even if you are miles from the countryside, you can find some peace in a local park, by a pond, or even on a small patch of grass outside. Bonus tip: Go barefoot. Connecting to the earth through a method called "grounding" or "earthing" for just 30 minutes a day has been shown to reduce stress and even chronic pain and fatigue.
Being able to create a state of peace and calm in any moment is crucial to my productivity and my ability to take care of my kids in a way that serves all of us. If I’m freaking out and anxious, then my kids will be too. When I’m able to allow, let go, and go with the flow, my children learn how to do the same for themselves. So you see, creating peace for yourself and having practices and natural supplements in place that can help you out with that actually creates peace in your environment.
I hope these tips serve you as well as they’ve served me!