4 Ways to Recharge and De-Stress

I have always equated being a woman with sacrifice. The children, husband, work, home and friends come before she does. It was an unconscious observation, but one that created the foundation of what I thought it was to be a woman in this world. There was a hint of pride in taking care of others and not yourself.

This "fact" of life was so ingrained in who I needed to be, that I found myself going out of my way not to take time to "recharge my batteries". From working 14 hours a day in my 20s, to feeling the pressure of perfection when I became a mother in my 30s.

Now 40, I have finally realized what should have been so obvious. You can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. Being stressed, over-whelmed, exhausted and pulled in too many directions does not help you to help others.

So don't feel guilty doing necessary...and yes I say NECESSARY...things for yourself. You will find more pleasure and enjoyment in not only the day-to-day responsibilities, but where it matters most...interactions with the people you love.

Here are a few ideas to help you "Recharge Your Batteries":

- Turn on some music and Dance! Dance alone! Dance with family! Dance with friends! Take a dance class! It raises the heart rate and causes a release of feel-good endorphins into the bloodstream. It also reduces levels of cortisol – a stress hormone.

- Take a calm walk in a forest. Forest bathing is a cornerstone of preventive health care in Japan. It boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, improves mood, increases energy levels and improves sleep.

- Have a good laugh. Watch a comedy or have a girls-night-out. Laughter can stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, which can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

- Quiet time with a cup of tea, dark chocolate and a good book. Dark chocolate...and I mean dark, 70% or higher...has been shown to stimulate neural activity in areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, which in turn decreases stress and improves your mood.