Guest post from Deborah Ann Davis, award-winning author, parenting skills coach, and former high school educator of 20+ years
How would you like to be one of those Moms who has a handle on your stress? Here’s easy ways to get yourself there:
Restructure your neural pathways to more readily produced “happy hormones” to replace the stress hormones that accompany anxiety throughout the day. Easy-peasy, right? Okay, we’ll call it Quick Fixes, and I’m going to share half a dozen techniques to get you started.
Bonus: Every single one of these Quick Fixes comes with its own smidgen of empowerment because you prioritized a tiny “Me-Moment” for yourself.
#1 – The Hissy Fix: Roll your eyes upward, empty your lungs with one fast exhalation, and stomp your foot. Yes, it looks like an exasperated preschooler, but all three of these techniques provide a physical pressure release for pent up emotions. Plus, in addition to the tiny ripple of empowerment, you get to enjoy a bit of humor. Go on… Try it out!
#2 – Fingers to Forehead: Lightly place all 10 fingertips along your hairline. Focus on where skin meets skin. Listen to your breath while looking for a slight vibration-type sensation to appear on your fingertips. Continue until you feel it in all ten. Once they all vibrate with the same beat, hug yourself. You’ll thank me later.
#3 – Mindful Breathing: Sit alone and listen to your breathing while taking deep breaths.
- Draw your shoulders back.
- Listen as you take a slow deep breath through your nose.
- Listen as you slowly exhale through your relaxed mouth.
Do it now for 5 breaths. Does it feel like you’re massaging your organs, moving your lymph, and sending more oxygen to your brain? Well, you are. Do it before you start the car, while waiting in a parking lot, before you go to sleep, in the bathroom… You get the idea.
#4 – Fake Smile: When you smile, the movement of your jaw and facial muscles generates a slew of happy hormones. It turns out that if you Fake Smile, your body can’t tell the difference from a real smile, and so it generates all those happy hormones anyway. Go stretch your lips like you’re grinning ear to ear, and let the happy hormones flow! Don’t be surprised if you smile back at yourself. (Just make sure you inform onlookers ahead of time, so when you grin at them in the middle of an altercation, you won’t scare them.)
#5 – Cradle Your Face: That’s all there is to it. Hold your face in your hands. Shift your fingers around to helpful positions. Don’t worry, your body will tell you where they should be. Then, relax into that moment of soothing darkness and quiet, centering yourself away from external distractions for just an instant. Hold until you feel fortified. Then, sally forth!
#6 – Thump Your Thymus: C’mon, Jane, thump on your chest like Tarzan. Think of something wonderful while you pat yourself on the front. That’s where your Thymus – your happiness point – is located. Giving it a gentle thump activates it, and boosts your immunity system at the same time. I’d call that a win-win all around.
The true beauty of these techniques is you don’t have to believe they work in order to reap their benefits. The more you require your body to produce happy hormones via these strategies, the more neural pathways will be produced to accommodate the change. Yes, you can willfully get your body to produce happy hormones. That means you can purposefully replace the stress hormones that accompany anxiety throughout your day.
As you went through the Quick Fixes, did you recognize techniques automatically provided by our bodies? They may not be society-approved for public use; nevertheless, children and adults both do them instinctively.
To turn Quick Fixes into part of your automatic habits, post sticky-note reminders for each one everywhere—in your purse, on your bathroom mirror, atop your pillow, under a fridge magnet, above the crib, near the homework table, next to your computer, on your car visor, in front of your treadmill, etc. Every time you see a reminder, Do It.
Let me leave you with this final thought: If you start filling your routine with dozens of empowering “Me-Moments” scattered throughout your day, it will shift the focus away from the stress of the external world… and for just that moment, bring you back to you, over and over and over again.
I told you restructuring your neural pathways to more readily produce happy hormones to replace the stress hormones that accompany anxiety throughout the day was easy-peasy. Now, go forth and conquer… with a grin (real or fake)!