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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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