- December 3, 2015
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SAHM: Staying Sharp When Your Colleagues are Kids
As a stay-at-home-mom, I sometimes feel like I’m losing my mind a little bit. 24/7 with no one to talk to but a jabbering toddler and a drooling baby will do that to you. If you, too, feel like your mom brain is reaching unreasonable levels, here are some ideas to keep your mind sharp, even if only to win Scrabble during your next game night!
There’s no easy way to say this, but when you’re a SAHM, life can be a little isolated, mentally. And while you’re accomplishing many great and important things, your brain might begin to lose some of its former glory. According to scientists, mom brain is a real thing that is still being researched, and there’s proof that even being pregnant creates long-term effects in your brain! Although these new findings aren’t the least bit surprising to us parents, there are solutions. Here are some simple “brain kegels” to keep your mind sharp during the childbearing/rearing years:
1. Neurobics + Aerobics
Your body and your mind are closely linked, and it’s only sensible that exercising both will be mutually beneficial. Of course, it’s important to get the physical exercise you need in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but did you know that your brain actually functions better with physical exercise? And, when regular exercise is coupled with cognitive exercises, you can become unstoppable, even increasing your intelligence level altogether.
However, this will only work if you pursue exercises (both mental and physical) that interest you. So, if you only feel “meh” about your latest workout routine or spending 30 minutes a day practicing a foreign language, branch out and try something you actually enjoy.
2. Turn the Tables
Studies show that people who switch hands every once in a while benefit from increased focus, concentration, and even memory. Try reading your watch upside down or writing with your left hand. Using chopsticks can also increase your dexterity and hand-eye coordination. As long as you’re doing something outside of your routine muscle memory, you’ll be increasing brain activity. It might be frustrating at first, but can actually result in increased mental flexibility. What mom doesn’t want that?
There’s a reason why so many moms wear yoga pants. Yes, it’s mostly because they are comfortable and make your butt look fabulous, but it might also have something to do with the fact that countless moms find things like yoga and meditation beneficial to their daily life.
Yoga isn’t the only way to meditate, so explore your options. Whether it be focused or free meditation, find ways to silence your to-do-list for at least 10 minutes a day. This will reduce stress, restore a positive mood, and increase greater self-confidence; not to mention it will also create sharper vision and hearing when you learn to really see and listen to what’s around you.
4. Try Something New
Doing things outside the routine can be extremely beneficial to your mental health. Take a different route home, or start gardening. Camping and travel are also great ways to use all of your senses which helps with creativity and motivation. But, if you’re too busy mom-ing to do all that, just try a new book, talking to new people, or investing some time in a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. From latin dancing to knitting, there’s always something that can provide enjoyable “me” time while also helping you continue to learn and dust away the mental cobwebs, so to speak.
5. Connect with People
Having a social life might seem nigh impossible if you’re in the trenches of parenthood, but it doesn’t have to be. Having a conversation with someone in the checkout line at the grocery store can help you maintain your mental capacities. The act of initiating and contributing to a conversation keeps your mind on its toes, so to speak.
This is why having a “mom tribe” is so important, but don’t forget to make new connections when you can, too. Engage with someone new at the next PTA meeting, or start taking a class at your local community center to meet new people. All it takes is a little effort; you’ll immediately notice the benefits of new connections, believe me.
With the help of a nutrient-rich diet and regular exercise, the above steps will increase your cognitive function and mental strength. We’re constantly bombarded with promises of “how to get your pre-baby body back”, but focusing on mental health can help us achieve a more balanced lifestyle which in turn benefits our physical health! Well, I’m off to write my grocery list backwards.
Featured Image PC: @salty_blondes
Rachel graduated from Brigham Young University in 2014, and now works from home as a freelance writer. Among other things, Rachel enjoys trying new recipes, exploring the world, and reading good books. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and young son.