How Can Parents Recharge When There’s No Time for a Break? We Asked the Experts

How to de-stress.

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Find Ways to Squeeze in a Break

Let’s face it, parents have a lot on their plates and the pandemic has compounded this. Since March there have been very few opportunities to take a break from the daily grind and now back to school poses new, unique challenges with many kids learning from their living room. So how do you take a minute to recharge and refresh? We asked a few experts for their best tips.

All it Takes is 15 Minutes

Dr. Nekeshia Hammond, a child psychologist (and mom) who spends much of her time supporting parents, gave us a gentle reminder that 15 minutes can do wonders.

“Taking a quick walk outside for even 15 minutes can make a difference and change your mood,” she said. “If you like yoga, or want to try it, but do not have the time to devote to an entire YouTube class, consider doing a few yoga poses to re-center yourself.”

Work on the Habit of Building a Pause into Your Reactions

Jake Rubin, M.A., C.H.T., and founder of Mamazen, a meditation and hypnotherapy app for moms, reminded us to slow down before we react.

“Whether it's running to the crib when the baby cries or dealing with a tantrum, whenever something happens that challenges you as a mom, remember to stop for a beat and ask yourself ‘am I resisting this situation?’ or, ‘Could I accept this reality, adjust my expectations around it and instead react with love and patience?’ This can help add more calm and less anxiety into a situation.”

Do Things that Bring You Joy… Often

Even if we can’t do things for long periods of time, we should often do things that we really enjoy, Dr. Hammond suggested. Baking, reading, lighting a scented candle, listening to music or writing are a few examples she recommended.

Lean on Your Support System

We know that girl’s night out or date nights with your spouse may be sparse, but you need to know that your support system is still there to get you through.

“You have to recognize that you simply can’t grin and bear it alone,” Rubin said. So, grab coffee outdoors with your bestie, do driveway drinks with your crew or plan a date night with your husband and just let go.

Just Breathe

Erika Polsinelli is a Kundalini breathwork expert (and former third grade teacher), so she knows what it’s like to deal with kids all day. Polsinelli reminded us to take the time to breathe.

"Long, deep breathing is the best go-to and you can literally do it for 3 minutes,” she said. “Slowly inhale through the nose, fill up the chest and belly, exhale through the nose… squeezing out the breath.” This is known to help calm the body, refocus, energize, help the brain be alert, balance the body’s pH and so much more.”

Take a Break

Even if you may be hiding in your closet or pretending to fold laundry, cut yourself some slack and know that it’s more than O.K. to take a break. In fact, it’s a necessity.

“The most important thing to remember is breaks are necessary for your mental health and wellness,” Dr. Hammond said.

Laugh a Little

It’s often hard to find the humor in a stressful situation, but that doesn’t mean that other things aren’t still funny. According to Dr. Caroline Adelman and her partners at Chicago Psychotherapy, laughter is actually good for you.

“Did you know that there is actually scientific data supporting regular laughter as an evidence-based strategy for decreasing stress and anxiety, increasing social bonding, decreasing blood pressure, and increasing quality of life and resilience?” Their blog says.

So, give yourself permission to throw an impromptu middle-of-the-day dance party, stay up late and watch that rom-com or standup comedy special, or just simply laugh with your friends about something silly that happened in high school.

Give Back to Others

It may feel impossible to give to others when your battery is running on empty but doing so can actually help recharge. Whether it’s baking cookies for a friend, sewing masks or donating food, giving back can actually help make you feel better. “Not only does it help us focus on something other than our own worries, but it serves as the sort of values-driven action that can remind us that we are all in this together, and that we all still have very valuable, active roles to play,” Dr. Adelman said.

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