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Brain Coach Answers: I’m a mother of 2, with a career. Are there any quick ways to reduce stress?

Ques­tion: I enjoyed your last post on good stress vs. bad stress.  I’m a mother of 2, with a career. Are there any quick ways to reduce stress?

Brain Coach: First of all, con­grats on man­ag­ing two full time jobs — moth­er­hood and a career! While the time man­age­ment can be stress­ful, it is essen­tial that you find a moment to just catch your breath from time to time. Even just 10 min­utes a day should help.

The Cen­ter for Mind­ful­ness in Med­i­cine, Health Care, and Soci­ety at the Uni­ver­sity of Mass­a­chu­setts Med­ical School suggests:

Mind­ful­ness is a way of learn­ing to relate directly to what­ever is hap­pen­ing in your life, a way of tak­ing charge of your life, a way of doing some­thing for your­self that no one else can do for you  con­sciously and sys­tem­at­i­cally work­ing with your own stress, pain, ill­ness, and the chal­lenges and demands of every­day life.

In con­trast, you’ve prob­a­bly encoun­tered moments of “mind­less­ness” a loss of aware­ness result­ing in for­get­ful­ness, sep­a­ra­tion from self, and a sense of liv­ing mechan­i­cally. Restor­ing within your­self a bal­anced sense of health and well being requires increased aware­ness of all aspects of self, includ­ing body and mind, heart and soul. Mindfulness-based stress reduc­tion is intended to ignite this inner capac­ity and infuse your life with awareness.


Hansgrohe Downpour Air Royale Spa ShowerStill… how to find time for mind­ful­ness or med­i­ta­tion when life is run­ning at full speed? Blog­ging Baby rec­om­mends turn­ing your daily shower into a mini-spa expe­ri­ence. Try it! Turn on the water and face the spray, move into it so you feel it rain­ing on you and take a few deep breaths. Try to focus on noth­ing but the feel and sound of the water, the smell of your sham­poo or soap. Feel your stress and wor­ries come to your skin’s sur­face and then wash away with the water. If you can give your­self just ten min­utes, you should feel calmer and renewed.

Why is this impor­tant?
While the phys­i­cal effects of stress are quite well known, not as many peo­ple know that chronic stress kills neu­rons too. While thou­sands of new neu­rons may be cre­ated every day, most die if they aren’t nur­tured with phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise, nutri­ents from your diet, and nerve growth fac­tor (NGF). Chronic stress impedes your abil­ity to focus and pay atten­tion, rob­bing you of men­tal exer­cise, and reduces NGF in the frontal lobes and lim­bic path­ways. Mindfulness-based stress reduc­tion, med­i­ta­tion, phys­i­cal exer­cise, and other tech­niques all help you return to a nor­mal state through the relax­ation response.

Links
Cop­ing with Stress: Man­age­ment and Reduc­tion Tech­niques
Good Stress and Bad Stress
Main­tain­ing Healthy Habits-In Five Sim­ple Steps
Stress and Women’s Health: Reduce Stress and Stay Healthy

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13 Responses

  1. This is great advise. Down­time (find­ing time to enter your own mind) is incred­i­bly impor­tant for stress reduction.

    Equally impor­tant is phys­i­cal activ­ity. They are like the Yin and Yang of stress man­age­ment. The arti­cle has already done a good job of describ­ing the impor­tance of down­time so I won’t go into that.

    But exer­cise reduces stress as well. This works by actu­ally cre­at­ing neu­ronal growth in a part of the brain that deals with stress, called the hip­pocam­pus. Peo­ple that exer­cise under­stand its ben­e­fit for stress management.

    It may seem dif­fi­cult to find the time when you have kids and a full time job, but even 10–20 min­utes, a few days a week can be ben­e­fi­cial. Find some­thing you enjoy that gets your heart rate up and you will notice a dif­fer­ence in your stress levels.

    For a more com­plete arti­cle you can visit -

    http://thebraincode.com/brainblog/?p=7

  2. Caroline says:

    Dr. Evans,

    Thanks for your great response! To add it to it, I would sug­gest that busy moth­ers can also look for ways to exer­cise with the kids (social inter­ac­tion is another way to reduce stress). Try putting small kids in a back­pack or stroller when you go for a walk or run. Or try danc­ing — turn on the music in your liv­ing room and let loose! For more on this check out: http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2006/10/24/waltzing-your-way-to-physical-and-mental-fitness/. How­ever you can do it, it is impor­tant to com­mit your­self to it. Good luck!

  3. Cindy says:

    Very funny to see the shower sug­ges­tion since I am sit­ting here with wet hair after soak­ing sev­eral extra min­utes under the shower to de-stress!

    I had never read that sug­ges­tion before…as far as I can remem­ber anyway.

    It works for me.

  4. Caroline says:

    Cindy, I hope you are feel­ing renewed and restored! If you find other easy ways to reduce stress, do share!

  5. Alvin says:

    I love tak­ing a hot shower to de-stress, works won­ders for me :)

    Dr Evans, inter­est­ing point about how exer­cise stim­u­lates the phys­i­cal part of the brain that deals with stress!

  6. Alvin says:

    P.S. I love the new look!

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  11. […] — Prac­tice med­i­ta­tion, yoga, or some other calm­ing activ­ity as way to take a relax­ing time-out (maybe a bath) […]

  12. Mike Logan says:

    I like doing Heart­Math. I can feel the change around my heart and down through my torso almost imme­di­ately, then some deep breathes.

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