Do I live to work, or work to live? That is the question I always ask myself, as I rinse and repeat every day. As a multi-tasking mom, I go to work, come home, make dinner, clean dishes, and then try to spend a little quality time with my son before we go to sleep. Then, I get up the next morning to do it all over again.
Of course, daily life is not as simple as washing your hair. Every day brings new stressors and responsibilities. Our technologically advanced society invented devices that were supposed to make life easier through automation, but technology only made life more complicated and added a new level of anxiety. Addiction to our cell phones gives us little time to rest and forget about work or the pressures of the outside world. Information overload from the Internet makes us feel inadequate that we can’t possibly know enough. Which begs the question, enough for what?
I don’t have to look at my Fitbit to know when my body is overworked and under-rested. If I listen to my body, it tells me what I need to do. If I ignore the warnings, my condition gets worse. My mind doesn’t work right. I can’t think of names of people or words for things, like “groceries,” i.e., “Help me unload the … bags of food from the store.”
This is my proverbial wake-up alarm. When momentary amnesia strikes, it’s time to take action; or rather … it’s time for inaction.
As a full-time working single mom, it’s easier said than done when it comes to rest and relaxation. Here are a few de-stress hacks I have found that put me back on track and get my brain back to thinking sharp again.
– Sugar may seem like a quick pick-me-up, but after the instant sugar rush, the brain fog and anxiety worsens. Try having a donut and then try to concentrate on a technical task, and you will see your focus depreciate within minutes. Snacks like cherry tomatoes, snap peas, carrot and celery sticks, and apple slices may not seem as satisfying as a chocolate cake, but as my formerly bulimic friend used to say to me, “Nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels.”
Get a massage
– In the movie “Midnight in Paris” Rachel McAdams’s spoiled character got lots of laughs when she bemoaned that after a day at the spa she was, “exhausted from the massage.” Funny, but it’s true. A massage can relax your mind and body like nothing else, and nothing is better after a massage than a nap. Make your massage experience totally destressing with Soothe, which is an in-home massage therapy service, like the Uber of massage, where you can order up a massage in the comfort of your own home, and you don’t have to worry about dozing off driving home.
– My favorite spiritual teacher, the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, said of meditation, that it is “the almost unfathomable power to enter the gap between our thoughts, where we can commune silently with God and bring to life the same creativity that we see in the world of nature — of which we’re an integral component.” While mediation can be elusive with the distractions of life, find even five or 10 minutes a day to practice this calming and centering inactivity, which can rejuvenate not just the body and mind but the spirit.
– Our phones are the devil. Sometimes anyway. Our addiction to them can be pernicious. A friend told me how he had to put an “i,” as in “i”Phone in front of nouns to get his son to look up from his tablet and look out the car window, i.e., “Hey, look at the iOcean, and those iPalm trees.” Adults are not immune either. I have a cartoon on my fridge of a woman calling to her spouse, “I’ll come to bed as soon as I finish reading the Internet.” I’ve been there. When you feel like you are behind on work and need to check email and Slack, or see what you’ve missed on Facebook, the irony is that when you start staring at your phone to try to catch up and relieve your FOMO, your anxiety goes up, not down, and the blue light stimulates your brain so you can’t sleep. To truly tune out and turn off, power down and pay attention to real life. Try a twist on Throwback Thursdays, when no screens are allowed, and watch your stress level decrease, and your quality family time expanding.
– The constant hum of machines around us has become so much a part of our environment that when the power goes out, the silence is almost eerie. We don’t even notice that the noise and vibration of technology and glare of artificial light all around us indoors is creating an atmosphere of constant activity, friction and stress. Get outside and breathe in natural air, no matter the weather. Take a short walk in nature at least once a week if you can. Sit on a park bench and watch the birds. Stand barefoot in the grass and get grounded. Connecting with nature is one of the surest ways to chase away stress, as you experience the feeling of belonging to something much greater than our man-made world.