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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.

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 –

  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: 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!

  7. 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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