I'm starting to learn (so it's taken me a few years) about the importance of taking care of myself. A stressed mama isn't as effective as she could be, either at home or at work.
But sometimes, relaxation is hard to come by. Even if your life feels so busy that bathroom visits take too much time, there are still ways you can steal a few moments to take a breather.
1. Deep breathing
You'll be familiar with this technique if you've ever practiced yoga. But even if not, if you focus on your breathing for a few moments, it can really make a difference. It will distract you from whatever's bugging you and help you concentrate on your body so you can remove unnecessary tension from it. See if you can get your outward breaths to match your inward breaths.
2. Bubble baths
I know that not everyone is a fan, but the people who don't like long, hot baths are just wrong. But even if you're a shower person, warm water can do a lot to loosen tensed-up muscles. I get lots of great ideas in the bath and shower, too!
3. Yoga / Tai Chi/ Meditation
That's right, I'm a convert to the east. It isn't hard to find yoga classes at just about any gym, or if you want to go the cheap route, there are plenty of yoga and tai chi videos available at the library, your local media store, or online. I don't know exactly why the eastern arts work so well, but for me, it's a cycle: a calm body produces a calm mind and so on. It's all connected. Once you're familiar with the breathing and poses, you can even incorporate them into your routine. I've been known to do yoga breathing while ironing. It doesn't work as well as when I can focus completely, but it's a whole lot better than nothing.
At one point in my life, I was considering becoming a music therapist. That ship has sailed, but suffice it to say that music can have a powerful effect on mood. I have my favorite unwinding music (If you're not familiar with Sarah McLachlan's Angel, you should be!), but choose whatever works for you.
If you've got a couple of minutes while you're waiting for an email or the casserole to finish baking, why not stretch? You might already know where in your body you store tension--are you a jaw grinder, a neck tenser, or a shoulder huncher? Take a moment to stretch the parts of your body that feel tight or tense--sometimes you may not even realize you're tense until you force yourself to pay attention to your body.
Sometimes you've got to vent. Whether that's an in-depth sob session with a friend or an angry letter in your private diary telling your boss exactly what you think of her, sometimes it helps to get things out of your head and "out there" where they won't bounce around your brain constantly.
It might seem counterintuitive--what's so relaxing about sweating your brains out?--but using the muscles that are normally hunched over a keyboard or scrubbing crayon stains off walls can actually make a big difference in stress reduction. Exercise improves sleep and boosts endorphins. So it can help your state of mind, too.
This might seem like a long list, but many of these things can easily be added to your daily routine or combined with it. You can always start small by picking just a couple. Just do something--your health and peace of mind are worth it.