I don’t need to tell you how stressful motherhood is. I’m sure you’re experiencing the struggle daily. While we may not be able to escape the madness, there are ways in which we can destress during our regular routine. This is a list of 11 things that instantly improve my mood. Hopefully, it’ll prompt you to make a similar list and implement these things in to your life as much as possible.
First and foremost, this mama must have coffee. Like, I really need to have it before I interact with anyone in the morning, especially my husband and kid. I have truly always felt and said that coffee is my mood stabilizer. I tried antidepressants in my postpartum period, but I could not tolerate the side effects. In my opinion, coffee does the same thing, if not better! Coffee as a caffeinated beverage is, of course, known to increase energy levels. But did you know it has other benefits as well? There actually several studies that suggest that repeated administration of 75 mg of caffeine every 4 hours can result in a pattern of sustained improvement of mood over the day. I really believe this too! In my other life I am a nurse and my coworkers definitely know when I am in need of coffee!
If you see me in the mornings walking in to work, you will always see me with some ear buds in. Music always improves my mood. I can be having the roughest morning with the girls, but as soon as I get in the car and turn on my favorite songs, it’s like nothing happened. For the longest I didn’t listen to the music that I love. My husband so lovingly referred to it as “trash.” (Let’s maybe not refer to something that your spouse LOVES as trash). But I have definitely worked it back in to rotation. I like almost all music but I especially love R & B and some rap. There is just something about your favorite song that can just melt away all of your stress. So I make it a point to listen to music whenever I can. Pandora is my alarm clock in the morning, really. I listen to music while I’m getting ready for work in the morning. I blast it in my car on my way to work. I listen to it as I take the 7 minute walk to my job from my parking space. It truly makes a difference in my attitude when I clock in. Not only does it wake me up and give me energy, but it makes me happier all around. What kind of music do you like?
Being outside in the fresh air is another thing that brings me joy. I simply love nature. When I have time I love taking my daughters for long walks, to the park, to lunch outside, you name it. What do all of these activities have in common? Sun shine! I absolutely hate the winter and experience way more depressive symptoms during that time of year. So do other people. It’s actually a thing! It’s called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). That’s why I take advantage of the sunlight when I can. I work crazy 12+ hour shifts. During the colder months it is dark when I go to work and dark when I get off. How depressing is that?! So during the warmer months I make every effort possible to enjoy the sunshine, eve n if that means enduring the blazing South Carolina heat. I really love taking my girls on day trips to the beach if possible. Fingers crossed that we’ll be able to do it this weekend! Sure it’s exhausting, but it really brings me such joy! I’m working hard to instill my love of the outdoors in them and so far it’s going great. They absolutely love the outdoors and aren’t afraid of every little critter. That could be a good thing or a bad thing.
This is something that doesn’t happen often, honestly. On the days that I’m not working at the hospital, I’m working at home. I used to enjoy spending hours and hours cleaning my house from top to bottom. I particularly love to use products with a nice fragrance, such as Mrs. Meyer’s products. It really brings a bit of aromatherapy to cleaning. Time is very limited now so my house isn’t nearly as clean as I like it. But there it just something about a clean home that instantly relaxes you. For me, chaos in and around my home equates to chaos in my mind. When I was studying for my master’s I had the hardest time focusing on my assignments and studies if my house was a mess. I’m not nearly as hard on myself to keep a clean home as I used to be. Having 2 kids makes it seem impossible! But when I can get it spotless like I like, it really makes me happier.
My husband has never really been a flower giving man, so frequently I treat myself to them. There is a particular vendor at our weekly market on the river that grows the most beautiful bouquets. Spring is upon us and I’m beyond excited to start keeping fresh flowers around the house again. Some people look at flowers as a waste of money because they die within the next week or 2, but for me, they are therapy. Just seeing and caring for these beauties really improves my mood. Not to mention the great aroma they bring! Aromatherapy is a powerful tool in the fight against depression and anxiety. I’m sure you see this pattern for me!
If you’re in or around the Augusta area check out Wilmor Farms Flowers at the Augusta Market on the River. The above picture is actually one of their bouquets! Check out their amazing flowers at http://www.instagram.com/wilmorfarmsflowers
Candles are another great way to implement aromatherapy. How amazing is a beautiful candle burning on the coffee table? Even seeing the glow of the wick makes me happy. It makes my home feel very comfortable and relaxing. I’m looking for some great summer candle scents if you have any to recommend!
I have come to the realization that I am a ridiculous stress eater. I’m not much for sweets, but I love hearty, comforting foods. There was a point during the end of my MSN studies where I practically loved off of cheese fries. Yes, cheese fries. They absolutely kept me sane. There were times where I have had a bad day at work and sent my husband for Zaxby’s for a late night snack. That isn’t so bad, right? Sometimes, even in my financial struggles, I will have a horrible day at work or home and go treat myself to a nice steak at Bonefish. I know, bad Jamie. It would be simpler and more affordable if I just pigged out on ice cream like most people. But I told ya’ll I don’t like sweets! The struggle.
Duh! Those that know me know my love for wine. Back in the day I was only a moscato or white Merlot drinker, but working in semi-fine dining has evolved my palate. I worked at Bonefish Grill throughout nursing school. One entire day of my orientation was spent sampling and learning about wine. Yeah I was pretty wasted by the end of that shift. Throughout the years I have really grown to love wine. I have developed a great passion for it, honestly. There isn’t anything better than sitting on the porch after a long day and enjoying a nice Cabernet. I may try to squeeze in this time tonight!
Frequently I love to combine many of my happy things and enjoy them while in the bath. I love scented bath products. Epsom salt is not only great for aches and pains but also soothing via aromatherapy. Of course I listen to my Eric Bellinger on Pandora while in the bath. I have even enjoyed sunflower seeds while in the tub. I love my happy foods. You know I had my wine right there as well. That was a great night!
“See the line where the sky meets the sea, it calls me.” Moana truly is my spirit movie. My soul absolutely needs the water. I may drive to the lake 30 minutes from our house, go sit at the park by the pond, or take a day trip to the ocean, but I absolutely need the water. I love the water so much that this is a requirement for our next home. I don’t care how long it takes, how much I have to save, or where, but I will be on the water. There isn’t anything more relaxing than just sitting there and staring off in at the water. Do you have this same desire?
Lastly, I absolutely love and benefit the most from a great, long drive. I don’t mean just a little trip around the town, I mean to another city or state. A couple of months ago I took a day trip to Charleston by myself. I sat a restaurant on the beach, enjoyed a margarita and wrote a blog post at 11 am, walked the pier and beach for a while and then drove home in enough time to get the girls ready for bed. I made it back by about 5 pm. It was only a 2 ½ hour drive there and back. I’m itching for another trip, too. Where do you think I should go this time? I’m thinking about just enjoying the day in Savannah or Edisto. Of course it has to be on the water!
These are things that truly bring my spirit joy and happiness. Some I can incorporate in to each day, while others are meant to be enjoyed on more time consuming occasions. What improves your mood and brings you joy? I’d love to know!