Last June, my husband & I and three other couples took off for 2-weeks and sailed the British Virgin Islands (BVI). We hired a great nanny-friend to watch our boys while we were away, we put our businesses on autopilot and leaned into relaxing. It took a few days to get into the flow, but I quickly learned some things about myself as I was completely disconnected from my normal life...
The often mundane nature of our daily routines can get in the way of our creativity, rest and the real us. If you think back to those early days of dating when you were entirely in tune with your partner and self, it was great, wasn’t it? It was freeing, and you had more mental and physical time for the things you enjoyed. Then along came marriage (maybe), and babies, and businesses, then the stresses started to compound, and you started to lose a sense of yourself. Your time was all of a sudden highjacked by other humans; your tiny ones, your partner and maybe even a growing team in your business. Which is typical, but it sucks. It’s draining, exhausting and, especially for women, it’s a big selfless time of our lives.
You lie awake at night wondering where your youth went, where the time has gone and why the hell you have to wear moisturizing socks to bed at night. Business urgencies flow through you like your own blood, and you genuinely believe that sleep seems to be only for the young. Tiny parental events happen on the daily which completely derail your mental state (Like your F**** kid refused to get on the bus this morning and proceeded to make a scene in front of the neighborhood moms, or you breastfed baby decided today was the delay to unload all bodily fluids on you moments before heading to work.) And there goes all your patience.
Back to square one, exhaustion and self-pity. You wonder when it will all end.
Then, one day, you get a little break from it all. You start to relax and feel happy and inspired again. You cling to this feeling as though it is fleeting and embrace yourself for impact: when real life kicks in again. While in the moment, you write a blog post, print holiday cards for family and friends and invoice your customers (who are late!). You then take a bath with your favorite tea, and it doesn’t get cold!
Ohhh the luxury of it all. You start to SEE you again. You FEEL you again. You BECOME you again. Then you wonder “How can I make this a daily thing?”
It’s possible. And it’s highly recommended because your relaxed self is your true self. The stress-free mompreneur is the best damn mom and entrepreneur and wife, sister, friend ... anyone can ask for. Here are five reasons why:
1) You are at ease
Did you know that when you first wake up in the morning, your cortisol levels (i.e., the stress hormone) is typically at its highest? And if we head into the day already stressed, we tend to make poor decisions and bad judgment calls. The good news is that our discipline is also the highest in the morning. That’s why we typically eat better early in the day and can stick to out to-do lists a bit better before our 3 pm slump.
When we are our relaxed self, we are more at ease, and we don’t let those stress hormones take over our day. We feed the ease with healthy foods and exercise, with extra cuddle with our kids, and more intimacy with our partner.
When we are at ease, we have way more patience, which is key to being a better parent, being a great leader, and taking care of ourselves.
2) You are happier
Studies show that less stress = more happiness. “Positive emotions such as joy, contentment, or appreciation carry independent and lasting benefits...happiness broaden one’s perspective and behavioral repertoire and builds lasting personal resources including mindfulness, resilience, closer relationships, and even improved physical health as well as lower levels of depression and higher levels if life satisfaction” explains Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson.
Every time you do something nice for yourself, it makes you happier. When you are more relaxed both body and mind, negative emotions are lowered, and stress is minimized. Taking a bath, giving a compliment to someone else, or listening to your favorite album, all contribute to reducing stress levels and increased happiness.
3) You are healthier
When we’re relaxed and productive, we tend to focus more on our health. We rush less, so we have more time to make healthy meals and exercise consciously.
Now, stress I might add can still exist in those that eat well and exercise. We all get overstretched and feel added tension at times, but for those who use proper nutrition and exercise as a tool to combat negative emotions tend to be more optimistic and relaxed. Being happy promotes a broad range of lifestyle habits that contribute to your overall health. Happy people often eat healthier diets, with higher intakes of vegetables, fruits, and healthy meats/alternatives. They pay attention to what and how much they consume and influence others around them to follow suit.
We all want to eat healthy(ier), and we all generally know what that entails, but when we are stressed and overstimulated, we grab the ‘quick fixes,’ the chips, cookies, and pizza. It’s not our true selves that want that crap; it’s our angry selves that crave it. You’re essentially feeding your dragon when you grab for that bag of Doritos.
4) You are more in love
Going back to my trip on the charter boat this past summer, I realized what it was that made me fall in love with my husband. The time away from ‘it all’ was so relieving that I re-fell in love with him again. I didn’t think this was possible at that moment, but it happened. And it changed us.
It was the first time since having our first son, six years ago at the time of this post, that I was able to let go, and trust the process. I was in flow and truly enjoying my experience without worrying about work or parenting.
5) Your mindset shifts
When we are constricted by work, rigid schedules and trying to pack it all in, we become discouraged. With that we gain more negative thoughts, we lack self-esteem, and we chip away at the things we don’t necessarily want to do. Our mindset shifts and we easily fall into a funk; poor health choices, poor decision making and we tend to become highly disengaged. Yikes!
But when we are our true selves, we think more positively, and we are more hopeful.
“Our spirits soar when we feel unencumbered by fear or weight of conformity” - Brendon Burchard.
Mindset is an influential attitude. Fixed ones limit their progress. They are constrained by the belief that their talent and intelligence cannot be developed. They fixate on documenting their knowledge and talent rather than improving them.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication. They aren’t constrained by their ‘lack of talent’ because they genuinely believe they can make progress.
When we are our relaxed selves, we think with more optimism. Remember that time you were last out with some close friends, happy, and enjoying a glass of wine? You were inspired by your work and glad to kick off a new day. On Monday, while faced with multiple parenting/work challenges, you clearly think through the issues because you have mental clarity and a mindset that believes challenges = opportunity.
You see, being your true self, relaxed and able to tackle any challenge, contributes to your happiness. Fixating on the opportunity in every speed bump puts you at ease, makes you a damn good leader, inspires those around you and sets an excellent example for your children.
While I don’t suggest taking a 2-week chartered boat trip to find yourself again, I do recommend finding more margin in your day to sink into your true self. It will make you happier, more optimist, healthier, more loveable (and make loving easier) and a great parent.
Image: Photo by Roberto Nickson (@g)