Inside: It’s a fact that parents are better at parenting when they schedule a time for themselves. So, take a mini-break from the hustle bustle of the daily grind to relax and re-balance. Here are some ideas that are shown to have a rejuvenating effect on both body and soul.
This blog is part of my “Tidbits of Wisdom for Parents” YouTube video series. If you want to watch the 9-minute video, click here. (the YouTube covers information in this post and other posts on my blog).
Parenting is stressful and exhausting. If you’re a mom or dad, I’m sure you’ve found that if you want to be the best parent you can be, you MUST take time for yourself…each and every day (and more than just going to the bathroom and taking a 3-minute shower). It’s a well-known fact that mothers and fathers are better at parenting when they schedule a time for themselves every day to rebalance, refocus, and unwind. It was a hard thing for me to learn, but when I did take time for myself, I was a happier parent.
Ways to Relax
Here are five ways to help you relax, de-stress and unwind your mind and body using art, music, and baths, and an additional 12 ways on WHY these ideas work. AND, they also work with children and teens who feel stress or are overwhelmed. So, share these ideas with your kids and if they are preteens and teens–they can do them on their own without your help.
No time you say? Keep in mind that the health complications associated with too much stress are on the rise (heart attack, anxiety attacks, depression, strokes, etc.). For the sake of your health (and your children’s health), change your mindset and approach these ideas as necessities and not luxuries.
Best of all–many of these activities can be done while you’re on the go: waiting at a doctor’s office, driving in the car, or waiting for your kids to finish a lesson, etc.
#1: Art: Coloring
Coloring is popular and not just for kids anymore. There are dozens of adult coloring books and regular coloring books with all kinds of beautiful and intricate designs just waiting for someone to fill the spaces with color.
Btw: the term, “adult coloring books,” means that society has given adults “permission” to color and to make that perfectly clear, they’ve even labeled the coloring books, “adult.”
Adult Coloring Books
You’ve all seen the millions of coloring books and pens on the market. It’s funny—society changes its mind on a dime. For example, when I was growing up we had all kinds of coloring books and crayons and the emphasis was “color within the lines.” Kids were considered “smarter” if their finished product showed a high degree of coloring within the lines.
Then psychologists came out and said that coloring inside the lines was stifling creativity. So, the emphasis switched—coloring books were the “bad guys” and giving blank sheets of paper to kids was now in vogue. Even today, the term, “coloring outside the lines,” refers to someone showing a creative spirit.
The coloring book industry tanked (actually they went underground waiting for the right moment to resurface and by all accounts, their “right moment” has arrived)
What goes around, comes around and bingo! Everybody loves coloring books and can’t get enough of them.
One thing about all this coloring—it’s just plain fun and a great way to relax your mind. I speak from experience: I colored every day with my granddaughter last summer and I’ve never felt better—probably because it was a throwback to my childhood.
Where to get supplies:
- Adult Coloring books: they’re everywhere! From expensive stationary stores to Walmart and Amazon.
- Pens/Markers/Colored pencils: Again, they’re everywhere. Gel pens, colored pencils, fine-line markers, and crayons.
Here’s what to expect from markers, etc.
- Colored Markers: with markers and gel pens, the colors will be more vibrant.
- Colored Pencils: If you’re looking for a softer look and something that will allow you to shade and blend, you want colored pencils.
- Crayons: Some people prefer crayons because of the textures they create.
Check out this coloring book from Amazon–it’s one of their best sellers and it’s all centered on Relaxation.
3 Ways Coloring Helps to Destress
#1: Coloring Incorporates a Rhythm that Balances Your Heartbeat
Coloring like exercising, journaling or meditation incorporates a rhythm that slows down and regulates the heartbeat and allows oxygen to fill your brain and relax your body. It helps to energize, clarify and calm your thought processes and fill your body with peace.
#2: Colors Have Healthy Vibrational Frequencies
When coloring, most people use a variety of crayons, colored pens, and pencils. Every color you use vibrates at its own frequency as does every cell and organ in the body. Even blind people can “see” colors through their hands as the pick up the vibrational frequencies of color. Research shows that because colors vibrate, they have a distinct and positive influence on our emotional and physical well-being.
#3: Coloring Can Restore Balance to Your Cells
Color is not only perceived by the eyes, but also by our skin. And coloring can restore health and balance to the cells and initiate healing and balance to our bodies.
Have you heard of “tangles” or “tangling?” Tangling is a form of doodling and what you create are called “zentangles.” In a nutshell, it’s the repetition of simple patterns. For example, you can start by drawing a half-circle in a corner of the paper with a few lines and dots and then repeat the pattern over and over again with different variations. You can have a drawing in mind or just see where the tangle takes you. Both approaches tap into your creative juices.
Read all about how tangles are created in the book, Totally Tangled.
Usually “zentangles” are black and white, with some gray shading, but color can be added. The biggest idea behind tangling? Stop thinking—just doodle, unwind and have fun.
- white paper
- black sharpie pen or micron pens
- graphite pencils
- a tortillon (it’s like a smudging or blending tool)
- and some imagination.
Here’s a kit that contains the tiles (special paper to draw on), the micron pens, the black graphite pencils, and a tortillon. It’s called Sakura Zentangle
Click here to watch a “tangling” demonstration on Youtube
As you can see, you’re starting in one corner of the paper and tangling (repeating patterns) your way across the great divide.
2 Ways Tangling Helps to Destress:
#1: Doesn’t Require Being an Artist
You don’t have to be an artist or artistic to “tangle.” Tangling allows you to tap into your creative juices without fear of failure. When you finish a tangle—it makes you feel like a talented artist. Not Leonardo da Vinci talented—but close.
#2: Tangling is Brain Aerobics
Tangling is also considered “brain aerobics,” because as you tangle, not only are you relaxing, but you are also giving your brain a healthy workout. Think yoga for the brain.
My son Brandon likes to doodle/tangle. His creations are not exactly considered zentangles, but they are still interesting. And yes, for him it’s relaxing. His materials are very simple: white cardstock paper and a sharpie pen.
#3: Bathe Your Cares Away
Looking for ways to relax your mind? This is it! Taking a bath should not be a luxury. Think of it as a necessity. Make time for it. You deserve it. There are many benefits to a simple bath, especially if you add Epsom salts and essential oils. Bathing can reduce aches and pains, allowing for relaxation, trigger mindfulness, and help you to sleep.
You can either purchase bath salts or make your own.
If you want to purchase a bath salt, I highly recommend the San Francisco Salt Company. They carry everything from Himalayan bath salts to natural bath salts to Dead Sea salts.
Homemade Bath Salts
Below is a simple recipe for bath salts. It includes both Epsom salts and essential oils. Here’s what you need to know about both:
Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. Magnesium is a mineral and is known to help people relax.
Essential oils can also be used. There are many different kinds and brands of essential oils. If you want an oil that can actually help in the healing process, you want oils that pass the AFNOR score. This is a score that demands strict adherence to the way the oils are processed. If an oil receives the stamp of approval with an AFNOR score—buy them.
Both Young Living and dōTERRA oils have this score and are excellent quality. I use oils from both companies.
Here’s a recipe I created for bath salts and essential oils. The beauty of any recipe is to add, subtract, multiply and divide the ingredients until you create something that works best for you. Do the same with this recipe–it’s fun and allows for creative juices to flow. Also, if you want more bath salt recipes, check out my bath salt blog here.
- 2 cups Epsom salt
- 1 cup bicarb soda OR 1 cup powdered whole milk, but not both (see note below)
- 10 drops of lavender essential oil
- 5 drops orange essential oil
- 5 drops tangerine essential oil
- 5 drops peppermint oil
- 5 drops cinnamon essential oil (see notes below)
- 2 Tablespoons dried lavender buds (see notes below)
- Mix everything together making certain the essential oils are evenly distributed.
- Store in a glass jar
- Use 1 cup per each bath
- Check out the tips below for options
- If you decide to purchase salt from San Francisco Salt Company, get the pharmaceutical grade of Epsom salt.
- During the winter months, I like to use the powdered milk over the soda—sometimes the soda can be drying and the powdered milk makes you feel like Cleopatra taking a milk bath
- I purchase the dried lavender buds from Majestic Mountain Sage—they have great prices and tons of things to choose from for whatever you want to make
- Instead of cinnamon essential oil, I use Thieves essential oil from Young Living or On-Guard essential oil from dōTERRA and both are amazing
Directions for taking a bath:
- Fill the bath with warm or hot water. If you are pregnant—the water should NOT be hot—just warm.
- Add the bath salts, Epsom salts or your homemade salts
- Turn on classical music (suggestions below)
- Light a soy candle or I personally love Manu candles
- Dim the lights
4 Ways Baths Help to Destress
#1: Bathing Reduces Inflammation
Bathing combats inflammation by stimulating blood circulation which helps with stiffness and pain.
#2: Bathing Has Soothing Effects on Emotions
Bathing has soothing effects on the emotional systems of the body and can reduce tension in the muscles. It’s a powerful way to relax your mind.
#3: Mimics Flotation
Adding Epsom salts to the bath increases the density of the water and mimics the effects of a flotation tank. You will get the relaxing benefits of the bath combined with a semi-weightless feeling of relaxation from the salts.
#4: Triggers Mindfulness
Bathing can trigger the art of mindfulness which is focusing on the moment and situation you are in. It allows for deep relaxation, putting aside the stresses of the past and promotes positive thoughts and clarity of vision.
#4: Insomnia and Foot Baths
Suffering from insomnia because you can’t “turn-off” your brain? If so, here is the perfect solution…foot baths. My friend, Dr. Lia Andrews owns Cinnabar Acupuncture in San Diego, California and shared this simple recipe that helps people with insomnia.
- Get a flat container. You want something you can fit both your feet in.
- Fill it with VERY HOT water (as hot as you can stand)
- Soak your feet in it until the water cools—about 20 minutes.
- Option: add some Epsom salts to the water
1 Way Foot Baths Help with Insomnia and to De-stress
#1: Energy Transfers from Brain to Your Feet
A hot footbath will take the intense thought-producing energy from your brain and transfer it to your feet. The result: you will be able to relax and fall asleep quicker and easier.
If you want more helpful ideas like this, check out Dr. Andrew’s book: 7 Times a Woman.
While you are tangling, coloring and bathing your way to Zen harmony, add some music. It will bring your relaxation experience to new heights.
I’m a fan of classical music. If there is another genre of music that “speaks” to your soul and helps you to truly relax, by all means, listen to it. There is also an app for your phone called, “Calm” that includes beautiful music and serene pictures.
Try this music as background music, to inspire and release your inner-creativity and emotions. The funny thing about classical music is—it can motivate, relax, tap into your creative juices and build your brain at the same time.
Here are some favorites to listen to while coloring and tangling:
- Water Music (George Frideric Handel)
- Violin Concerto in D (Ludwig Van Beethoven)
- Horn Concerto K. 495, Mvt. 3 (Wolfgang Mozart)
- Any music that uses the sounds from nature–like rain falling or the sounds of nature in a forest
Here are some favorites to listen to while bathing:
- “Clair de Lune” (Claude Debussy)
- Adagio in G Minor (Tomaso Albinoni)
- Morning from “Peer Gynt,” (Edvard Grieg)
- Canon in D (Johann Pachelbel)
One last note: By combining music with ocean sounds you have the perfect relaxing CD. And there is a CD out there that offers both. It’s called The Pachelbel Canon with Ocean Sounds and you can get it on Amazon. It’s amazing for everything–relaxing, becoming inspired, and sleeping. Try it out!
2 Ways Music Helps to Destress
Depending on the music you play, it can be a powerful de-stressor! Here is what research has found about music calming the inner beast:
#1: Music Slows Heartbeat & Other Organs
Music has a profound effect on a person’s entire body by slowing down the heart and breathing rate, lowering blood pressure and putting your body into a state of calm and relaxation
#2: Improves Immune Function
Listening to music improves immune function making you less prone to colds and flu and helps to balance hormone levels. However, research also states that to achieve this level of health, well-being, and relaxation from music, it needs to either be something you relate to or soothing classical music. Listening to heavy metal won’t give you the same results.
Taking the time to relax and de-stress is a powerful way for parents (and children, and teens) to recharge your batteries and give you the energy needed for parenthood! Check out these books, coloring books and CDs on Amazon:
You can access the 2-minute video here.
Do you have a fun way of relaxing? Please comment in the space below.
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