Being a parent is joyous and rewarding — and also stressful at times. Whether working or staying at home, parents face a barrage of demands and self-imposed expectations.
As parents, particularly mothers, we are constantly comparing our parenting skills with others and are often our harshest critics, said Lateefah Watford, MD , adult, adolescent, child and forensic psychiatrist and chief of Behavioral Health Services for Kaiser Permanente in Atlanta.
Here are some ideas for making Mother’s Day a time to help mom relax and de-stress.
While flowers and chocolates are always appreciated, go for a gift that will significantly improve her mood and well-being.
“In today’s busy, ever-on, always-connected world, we sometimes forget that it is not always things that bring us feelings of peace, contentment, love or appreciation,” Dr. Watford said. “Sometimes it’s the simple, heartfelt ‘thank you!’ or some guilt-free quiet time that speaks to us far more on Mother’s Day, so try to give your mother something that will show her your appreciation!”
A few gift ideas that will increase mom’s sense of well-being:
“Mothers generally focus on meeting the needs of others, and it’s important that we take care of ourselves, too,” said Elizabeth Dueñas, MD , a Family Medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente’s South Bay Medical Center in Harbor City, California. “Being physically active is one of the best things you can do for your emotional and physical health.”
Instead of having a family gathering in the living room or dining room, lace up those athletic shoes and get moving, because exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals. Take a walk or a hike — getting outdoors in nature is essential to our health and well-being.
“Our busy schedules during the week often make it challenging to regularly fit in enough daily exercise, so weekends are the ideal time to get in dedicated physical activity,” said Suzanne Deschamps, MD, family physician in Salem, Oregon, and co-director of Physician Wellness for Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and Southwest Washington. “And why not incorporate physical activity into a Mother’s Day celebration for your fabulous mom?”
Here are ideas for a physically active Mother’s Day:
Mother’s Day celebrations often center around meals, and there’s a connection between our mental well-being and what we eat — the gut has been called the “second brain.”
If mom is the primary meal planner, why not let her take the day off and prepare a meal for her?
“Certain food choices can help soothe stress and anxiety, and some of these same foods can also improve gut flora, which can improve mood,” said Michele Gilson, RD, registered dietitian with Kaiser Permanente in Denver. “Happy mom, happy family!”
Find recipes with the following stress-reducing foods:
“It is important to know that every day is Mother’s Day, but on this particular day you can take the time to relax and make it about you,” said Anabel Castrezana, a licensed marriage and family therapist for Kaiser Permanente in Anaheim, California. “Your daily life and routine will be waiting for you the very next day, so it is OK to take this one day to celebrate all you do.”