By Chrissy McCullough, Physical Therapist at Lyndhurst Gynecologic Associates

When you’re a mom, the days are long and the nights are short. You rarely take time for yourself and often that time might mean hiding in a corner to quickly eat a cookie before your 2-year-old catches you crying “Want some!”. Here are a few tips to get you through those crazy days and to help you get back to the pre-baby calm, cool and collected diva you once were:

BREATHE: When we’re busy finding lost binkies, cleaning high chairs, planning meals and intellectually stimulating growing minds as creatively as possible we often don’t take a moment to breathe. Breathing for relaxation (the most common technique is called diaphragmatic breathing) has a profound impact on the body by reducing our anxiety and tension. This type of breathing relaxes muscles, increases blood flow and helps us to regain the focus and strength needed to continue to face the day. Make a daily appointment with yourself to practice this for 5 minutes. Good times to schedule this mini relaxation are as soon as nap time begins or right before you gear up for “second shift” (i.e. after afternoon snack, before dinner plans commence).

Lie on your back in a comfortable, supported position. You may want to rest in a recliner or on a bed with pillows under your head, arms and legs. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest. Close your eyes. Inhale through your nose letting your belly rise into your hand while your chest remains still. Gently exhale through your nose or mouth letting your belly fall. Repeat for 5 minutes. To make sure you devote adequate time to unwinding and re-energizing, you may want to set a timer for those 5 minutes (a kitchen timer or the “time out” timer work perfectly).

LOOSEN UP: Months of cooking dinner for your family with a toddler on one hip and a phone crammed between your ear and shoulder wreaks havoc on your body. A few simple stretches can help reverse these painful positions we often find ourselves in. A great time to fit these in is when you’re in the shower, your body is warm and no-one is hanging on you.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze: Stand with your weight evenly distributed on your feet and clasp your hands together behind your bottom. Let your shoulders fall away from your ears and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Imagine your chest opening and your shoulder blades sliding across your back. Hold for 3 seconds, repeat 3 times.

Ironing Board: Stand with your hands on a counter top or, if you tend to be on the less flexible side, on a wall at shoulder height. Walk your feet back as you tilt your bottom toward the ceiling. Continue walking backward and hinging at your hips until your head, arms and back are in a straight line (“ironing board”), you will feel a pull in your calves and/or hamstrings. Hold this stretch for 5 deep breaths then walk back toward the wall to come out of it.

Standing Back Bend: Stand with your weight evenly distributed on your feet and place your hands on your bottom as if putting your hands in back pockets. Gently and slightly press your hips forward as you arch your low back and, if comfortable, look up letting your head fall back. Hold for 3 seconds, repeat 3 times.

STRETCH YOUR LEGS AND GET SOME FRESH AIR: With the beautiful fall season creeping upon us, plan at least one daily activity that takes you and your little ones outside. A great idea to get you moving is to go on a nature walk around your neighborhood. For older children try to find items that start with a letter or color of your choosing, for younger children see how many dogs, cats, birds, etc. you can find. This exercise is a great soul refresher for you and will help your children to appreciate the world around them!

So, the next time you find yourself painstakingly planning organic, all-natural, balanced yet tasty meals and snacks for your children while you dig in your purse on the way to gymnastics realizing you forgot to eat breakfast and hoping that the fruit snacks you find have some sort of nutritional value to them, remember the simple exercises above. Your mind and your body will thank you.

Chrissy is a physical therapist specializing in the field of Women’s Health. She received her Master’s degree in physical therapy from Texas Woman’s University in Dallas, Texas, and shortly after graduation, she opened a successful practice in the Dallas area where she treated women with chronic whole body and pelvic pain, prenatal and postpartum pain, urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and more.

Along with her husband, Heath, and 2-year-old daughter, Eva, she relocated to Winston-Salem in July of 2008 in order for Heath to complete a residency in Radiology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. They are currently expecting another little girl, Zoe, in mid-November. She recently began treating patients at Lyndhurst OB/GYN and is absolutely loving it! She has shared some fantastic tips today for moms when we need to take some time for ourselves.