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Being a Healthy (Busy) Mum – With the Wisdom of Ayurveda

Being a Healthy (Busy) Mum – With the Wisdom of Ayurveda

Monday, 18 March 2013 20:17

Not long ago I read that the average mother these days gets about 20 minutes to herself a day. (Seeing my sister with her 3 girls, I can hear her shouting, like I’m guessing you might be, “20 minutes, oh I wish!”)

As a mum these days (you not me!), it is an unbelievably difficult challenge to do what you desire for your kids, your family, your work, before you even get a moment to think about yourself. Equally, as they say, “Our greatest wealth is our health”. While nearly every mum will say that healthy kids is their number one priority, it’s also logical, though not necessarily easy, that looking after your own health is the absolute first step in looking after your family’s health.

With all this in mind, here are a few tips, that will take you little, if any extra time, but will hopefully give you a little bit more energy, balance, health and joy (or at least sanity), that as a super mum you truly deserve.

1. Stay ‘Optimally’ Hydrated

If you are so busy racing around each day looking after everyone else, you might be making one of the most simplest, yet damaging mistakes for your day to day energy, focus, skin health and overall health – simply not drinking enough water and thus living in a state of ‘perpetual dehydration’ (Arghhh!).

Although I’m sure you’ve heard this hundreds of times, estimates suggest that at least 50% of us compromise our health and performance every day simply by not drinking enough water.

Helpful Hints:

Make little habits and reminders for drinking more water.

Carry a water bottle or thermos with you.

Keep a water bottle or thermos in your car/handbag/on your work desk.

Drink a cup of water every time you go to the bathroom.

Every time you get your kids a drink have a glass (of water!) yourself.

Put pop-up reminders on your phone or computer. Seriously!

Remember that water = Life! Without water, everything … including you … dies!

2. Sip ‘Vata’ Tea (or other high potency relaxation tea)

Whilst you are in the habit of drinking more water, one of the absolute best things to keep your stress levels, anxiety, emotions and moods in balance is to simply add herbal teas that calm your mind and relax your nervous system. In Ayurveda, the 6000-year old system of natural health care known to be the world’s oldest, it is explained how there are three basic, governing principles of our minds and bodies. The principle responsible for the functioning of our nervous system, as well as thinking, speaking and

everything to do with movement and communication, is known as Vata. Stress, anxiety, worry, mental tension, fatigue, constipation, gas, dry or ageing skin right through to insomnia and mood swings (not to mention PMS) are all primarily related to Vata not being happy and balanced. Balance Vata and you will eliminate or significantly reduce all of these problems.

Helpful Hints:

i) Drink ‘Vata Tea’ – Vata tea is a special herbal formulation specifically designed to counteract the problems mentioned above. Drink it throughout the day, especially in the afternoon when the ancient sages suggest Vata is most likely to get out of balance. Vata tea is available in most good health food shops. If you can’t find Vata tea specifically, go for a general relaxation-based tea such as chamomile or lavender. Add a tea bag to your thermos or water bottle or leave it in the bottom of your mug and refill it throughout the day.

ii) Use Other Teas (Instead of Coffee!)

Remember too that you can use other teas to boost your performance naturally. E.g.

– ginger tea to reduce nausea and stimulate your appetite and digestion or

– peppermint tea to give you a mental spark up and boost your brain … maybe instead of that extra coffee!

3. Use Aromatherapy

Aromas are the ultimate time-efficient way for busy mums to balance mind and body. They are ideal at night for promoting settled sleep as they keep working ‘while you are sleeping’. They are also great for the office or main living area during the day.

Helpful Hint:

Get yourself an electric aroma diffuser and buy some aroma oils online or from a health/lifestyle type shop. Use 2-3 drops of whatever aromas you need at the time. E.g.

– Peppermint, Jasmine or Orange in the morning for stimulation.

– Lavender, Valerian or Ayurvedic Vata oil in the afternoon for calming the mind.

If you (or your kids) have trouble sleeping at night, use aromas in the bedroom. Put them on at least one hour before going to bed. The ones mentioned for the afternoon period above are good here too. Or go for warm, sweet blends – the names usually point you in the right direction, e.g. ‘calm temples’, ‘settled sleep’.

4. Save Time at Breakfast

Without going into detail here, according to the time-tested Eastern health sciences, the common recommendation that ‘breakfast should be the most important meal of our day’, is absolute bunkum. None of the healthiest, longest-living cultures throughout time have ever made breakfast a ‘substantial’ meal! Like the sun, the digestive fire that cooks our food is relatively weak early in the morning, and our bodies are generally not at their peak capacity for digesting large amounts of food.

Helpful Hints:

i) Get the lowdown why Breakfast should ‘NOT’ be the most important meal of your day.

ii) Save time at breakfast by just having small healthy snacks – some fruits, a healthy muesli or making healthy juices according to your appetite. For a great, quick and super healthy and satisfying drink perfect for breakfast, consider my Super Green Breakfast Drink

5. Get Creative with Exercise

There’s no doubt, getting an hour to go to the gym or do an exercise class is a luxury you may not have. However, that’s no reason to completely miss out on exercise. You just might need to get creative.

A great example of getting creative with exercise, was a woman who worked at Ericsson and attended one of my business seminars there a few years ago. She emailed me afterwards and told me that she was a full-time working mum with three young kids who could never find any time to exercise. Over the previous 12 months she had put on over 10 kilograms in weight and her blood sugars had gone through the roof, to the point where her doctor considered her diabetic and put her on medication. Motivated by the talk however, she bought a treadmill and put it in her lounge room. Once she got all her kids to bed by 8:30pm, instead of just ‘vegging’ out on the couch, she would then walk on her treadmill for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 or 4 nights a week while watching TV. This one, simple change, ended up with her losing all of the extra weight and literally halving her blood sugars within six months, to the point where she was no longer considered diabetic and was able to stop the medication.

So how can you get creative to get some more activity into your day?

Helpful Hints:

Here’s a few ideas to help you get some more exercise or activity into your busy life:

– Think ‘activity’ not exercise. I.e. ask yourself, “how can I get more activity into my day?” rather than, “how can I find time to exercise?”

* Your body doesn’t know the difference between lifting a wheelbarrow out in the garden and a dumbbell in a sweat-laden, BO smelling gym!

– Ipod It – Download books or the weekly news to your iPod and listen while walking rather than sitting down to read newspapers/books

– Mobile (phone) ‘Walk and Talks’ – make phone calls while walking rather at your desk or kitchen bench

– Dictaphone (e-mail) Walk and Talk – see voice recorder tip below

– Client/Friend Walk and Talks – catch up (gossip!) with girlfriends or clients while walking in the fresh air/sun rather than consuming an extra 1000 calories having coffee & cake in a café

– Watch ‘and’ WALK Kids Sports – rather than abusing the umpire or chatting on the sidelines, walk around the court or oval (while ‘encouraging’ the umpire to get some glasses!)

– TV Exercise – get a treadmill, stepper etc in your TV room

– Find Something FUN! Often we mistake “I don’t have the time” for “I really don’t enjoy this”. Again, don’t think exercise (which most people associate with pain or discomfort), think of things that involve moving your body that you enjoy.

6. Use a Voice Recorder for Your Computer Work

Imagine that instead of spending hours each day typing work emails/reports, connecting with your friends on Facebook, emailing builders or contacting online shops about baby clothes, you could still get all those things done while going for a walk, sipping lattes with the girls, waiting for Little Johnny/Jenny to finish their after-school sport or any number of other things you’d rather be doing than sitting in front of a computer screen? Well, you can.

Helpful Hint:

All you need to do this is one of the world’s greatest inventions…. a digital voice recorder or dictaphone. You can purchase these handheld devices (that will easily fit in your handbag – which I’m sure could do with something else in it!) for about $150. Most of the new smartphones now have them inbuilt too, though these don’t work quite as well.

Then whenever you are out and about – you’re in the car, at an airport, going out for a walk in the sun, you simply speak your email replies, work blogs, Facebook posts, or whatever else you write on a computer into your dictaphone. Once you are back home or in the office, you simply connect your voice recorder to your computer, and via voice recognition software (MacSpeech or Dragon Naturally Speaking – both available at www.nuance.com ) it types everything out. Then it’s just a matter of, cut, paste and send, cut, paste, and send. *

* Important Caution: I would however suggest that you also check that what the computer types is actually what you said before you send it!!! After speaking to a school group once, I followed up the next day with a thank you email to the male teacher who organised it. Let’s say he was quite ‘taken aback’ when he read that rather than me ‘thinking that “he had a great class”, he read how I thought “he had a great ass”!

7. Get Your Own Virtual Assistant

As well as using technology to save you time, you might also consider employing your own ‘virtual assistant’ (don’t worry, this can be for as little as $4/hr) to help you deal with the many day-to-day jobs that you just never seem to be able to get on top off. Virtual assistants are experts in their field that you communicate with online – they often are in other countries. You can get virtual assistants to help you with almost anything these days. Everything from sending and responding to emails, helping you write that book you’ve always wanted to do, buying things on the internet for you, researching the best prices for online shopping. (The more you buy the more you save!) If you work for yourself or are a ‘mumpreneur’ there is no end to the jobs a virtual assistant can help you with… and in the process help free up your precious time for other things YOU want to do. Yes, there is a cost, but it can be a fraction of the real cost it saves you either in terms of cash or time for yourself or your family.

Here are a few websites for Virtual Assistants:

www.odesk.com

www.taskseveryday.com

www.remotestaff.com

8. Look After No.1

Finally, while you are doing your great work looking after your family, never forget the old chestnut – that the most important thing of all … is to also look after yourself.

Yes, this is ‘good in theory’ but! Doesn’t putting yourself first and looking after your own health and wellbeing, somehow mean that you are ‘selfish’? How could you possibly put your own needs before your children’s or your partner’s?

Do you sabotage your own health and happiness, thinking that you have to be a martyr to everyone else? If so, occasionally remind yourself of the fact that you are absolutely no good to your loved ones, if you are not in a strong, happy, healthy place yourself. If we always put everyone else’s needs before our own, we will not only sabotage our health and happiness in the long term, but will likely become a burden to those around us. Instead of being our naturally loving and giving selves, we eventually become resentful and pass our frustration, anger and stress onto those around us.

Helpful Reminder:

Appreciate that nourishing yourself (in moderation) is the greatest gift you can give your family. As ancient cultures have taught for millenium, a happy mother is the best mother.

Even if it’s just 5, 10 or 20 minutes a day, what daily and/or weekly ritual can you create where you do something just for your own personal pleasure – to nourish your own emotional heart?

I hope something here has been of assistance in helping you continue to do the world’s most important job – being a mum. Happy mothering and look after yourself too!

Mark Bunn

Mark Bunn – is a leading natural health researcher specialising in Ayurvedic medicine, author of the three-time best-selling ‘Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health‘ and one of Australasia's most popular health and performance speakers