Guest post by Ann McCracken, author of How To Get Back Your Mojo
For busy working parents, the start of term can be a relief as routine returns to the household. But term has started and you’re still feeling worn out! If you feel you have lost your spark or ‘Mojo’ after six weeks of juggling, here are a few tips to help get your Mojo back:
- Plan your meals for the week. This may sound a really boring piece of advice, however stocking your store cupboard and freezer with the ingredients for healthy meals for all the family will nourish bodies and minds. This allows young people and their parents to function optimally. It takes the pressure off the parent who needs to get creative in the kitchen at the end of the day if there’s a meal plan. And if you’ve pre-made veggie pasta sauces or can defrost a bolognaise from the freezer, it makes your life easier.
- Create a great atmosphere with the smell of a favourite meal, a place for everyone at the table and opportunities to discuss your/their day over the evening meal. The mind has a profound influence on the body when it comes to how we metabolise food and a friendly atmosphere creates a positive mental state. Washing up or stacking the dishwasher, giving each family member responsibility for a particular part of the clean-up process, can be part of the whole experience!
- Create a positive aura. When you are feeling negative your body becomes de-energised and everything is a drag. When you feel in a negative state, take control and encourage yourself to think about a good time or positive experience. Putting a painting on the wall that reminds you of a happy memory, or a photo, can be a helpful reminder to pause, reflect and smile. When you are smiling (inside and out) you are back in a positive state and feel better resourced and able to make good decisions.
- Remind yourself you don’t have to do everything. Make a list of daily chores and divide up the jobs. Young people and partners can’t help if they believe that the ‘work fairy’ makes packed lunches, washes school uniforms, work clothes and gym kits, cleans football and hockey boots, as well as keeping track on all the out of school activities and school admin. Encourage responsibility from a young age and this will help your young people to understand how to organise themselves, it also makes the leap from Primary to Secondary to College/University so much easier.
- Create a small space for peace and tranquillity. In today’s hectic world many of us have become human ‘doings’ and forget to be human ‘beings’. There are so many demands from others on our time and energy and just as many demands from ourselves, that we can easily lose our Mojo. To nurture yourself is surprisingly easy. The body is a fantastic machine and the brain is a powerful instigator for a quick ‘relax’. Here is an advanced ‘deep breathing’ technique which, once learned, will be your ‘go to’ option for calm and rejuvenation.
Here is how you do it:
Place your hand on your mid rift, just below your chest.
Take a deep breath in through your nose and be aware that your hand is being pushed outwards by your diaphragm.
This is often described as’ breathing into your stomach or abdomen’. Make sure your shoulders remain in the same position (lots of people raise their shoulders when they take a deep breath but you are not breathing into your shoulders, you are breathing into your lungs/diaphragm.
Breathe out through your mouth.
Allow your exhale to continue for as long as possible.
Check that your shoulders are not raised and tense.
REPEAT at least five times.
Check your shoulders are relaxed and the breath is going into the abdominal area.
This breathing can be done when standing, sitting, walking, lying down, eyes open or closed.
In other words, you can do this anywhere anytime, anyplace – just keep your eyes wide open if you are driving or operating machinery.
By focusing on the act of breathing for a short time – feeling the air move in and out, hearing the sound of your exhale and inhale – allows you to clear your mind, aerate your body systems, allowing increased respiration, resulting in increased energy for you.
You become more perceptive and aware after this simple exercise.
This is the basis of Mindfulness where once you have focused your breathing, you are strengthening your muscles and your mind.
Ann McCracken is a scientist, psychotherapist, author and trainer in stress, wellbeing and resilience. She has decades of experience working with organisations and individuals and she is the former Vice President of the International Stress Management Association. Stress is her specialist subject! Ann’s first book, The Stress Gremlins – is a practical self-help book with exercises and ideas to support good mental health. This new book – How To Get Back Your Mojo – takes the Gremlin concept even further; as a unique way of providing an explanation about how we react to situations and helps individuals to recognise their reactions and inform their behaviour.