Motherhood isn’t for the fainthearted. There are moments when you feel like you’ve mastered being a mom to seconds later feeling overwhelmed and crying. Regressions, teething, tantrums, illnesses, you name it, take a huge toll on moms and can intensify Multiple Sclerosis (MS)-related symptoms or contribute to exacerbations. So, when you are wiped out or stressed, there are other forms of exercise (both physical and mental) and meaningful movements you can do to take care of yourself. If you are unable to do your formal routine, that’s ok. Taking care of babies and kids is a rollercoaster and no two days will be the same. There will be days you will need more calming and relaxing ways to feel rejuvenated after a rough patch.
Give yourself some space to recalibrate and you should NEVER feel guilty for doing so. Here are 7 ways to help you after a tough time.
Many studies have shown that meditation helps with reducing stress and inflammation while improving focus and resiliency. You can literally meditate anywhere. Your eyes can be open or closed, and you can do it lying down or sitting up.
As moms and also navigating MS, there are millions of things on your to-do list. It’s easy to think of checklists or something that bothered us earlier in the day but try to be in the moment of what you are doing, whether you are washing your hands, blowing bubbles with your child, etc. Being present and practicing mindfulness can greatly reduce stress, muscle tension, and anxiety.
Do diaphragmatic breathing
When we are stressed, we tend to breathe shallowly without ribcage or chest expansion. This can lead to headaches, shoulder and neck pain, and even low back issues. Practice breathing in through your mouth and out through your nose. Try to exhale for at least a few seconds longer than when you inhale. For example, inhale for 4 seconds and exhale for 6 seconds. Practice this throughout the day.
Perform calming yoga stretches
Some great examples include child’s pose, savasanah, needle/thread, cat camel or others that feel good to you. Feel your deep breaths and focus on your position as you release tension throughout your body. Hold the positions for at least 20-30 seconds. Use additional props such as rolled up towels, bolsters or pillows if you need more support.
Try Tai Chi
It’s incredible for flexibility, balance and being present in the moment. There are many great online classes and check out the Neuro Mama Tribe Library for some classes too!
Incorporate guided imagery: Think of a place or memory that brings you joy. It can instantly improve your mood, increase feel good hormones and gain a sense of happiness. You can do this with your eyes closed, lying down or sitting.
Try muscle relaxation techniques
Lay down in a comfortable space and start from the top of your head and finish at your toes. While taking deep breaths, engage your muscles on one side and then mindfully (slowly with intent) switch to the other side as you work your way down. For example, tighten your forehead muscles for 3-5 seconds and then release, next tighten your left cheek muscles and release and then engage your right cheek muscles and relax. For areas that feel more tense, perform the muscle tightening and releasing for a few repetitions. Do what feels good to you. You can also imagine the pain and tension melting away by visualizing colors, waves or anything that speaks to you.
Multiple studies have shown that spending time outdoors, even 10 minutes, does wonders for our wellbeing, both physically and mentally. It helps with vitamin D synthesis, too! If you don’t have access to an outdoor space, even opening a window to look outside or be in the line of sunlight is also beneficial.
Don't be afraid to try new things; you can be surprised (in a good way!) to learn more about your body and mind and what helps you recenter. Wellbeing is fluid, not rigid.