1) Dream Steam: Put your smart phone in an empty mug to amplify the sound and head for the bathroom. Find the Reggae station on Pandora, or your favorite music streaming site, grab some (preferably tropical) body wash and take a shower or bath. Mini vacation. You're welcome.
Even Better: Get the house to yourself so you won't be wondering if the kids tired of watching Caillou and suddenly learned how to turn on the stove top while you were soaking.
2) Paint Alleviate: Buy an inexpensive canvas, some acrylic paints and a few paintbrushes from your local craft or art supply store. Tell the kids it's time for everyone to play in their room for 30 minutes, then find a place you can set up your creative space. It doesn't matter what you paint, or if this happens to be your first painting ever. Putting color to canvas can free some pent-up emotions that need to make an exit.
Even Better: Find a nail and a hammer. When the paint dries, you can hang your original art, which will remind you that you are more than a milk producing, toilet cleaning machine.
3) Brain Gain: The Lumosity app (or website), with games like Pinball Recall and Color Match, are designed to help you find a bit more focus and think a mite more clearly. Three brain games in under ten minutes, and you'll feel like a champion when you beat your previous best score. Another personal favorite app - Fit Brains by Rosetta Stone. According to Dr. Paul Nussbaum of Fit Brains, engaging in brain health activities regularly can "balance your mood and help reduce stress and anxiety that can cloud thinking or even damage the brain."
Even Better: Combine this activity with a bag of chocolate chips (okay maybe not a bag, but a handful), just because you can.
4) Endorphin Morphin': Yes, all the research is TRUE. Along with physical benefits of increased strength and fitness, exercise releases wonderful chemicals called endorphins. These are your body's own personal opiates, and they can lessen anxiety and depression, improve your sleep, and reduce your perception of pain and stress. Even if you can't get to the gym, I challenge you to do something every day. Jumping jacks while the kids are getting dressed. Lunges down the hallway while they're brushing their teeth. You Tube or Comcast fitness videos are available all day. Try one BEFORE you check Facebook during naptime!
Even Better: Get to the gym, or take a brisk walk outside.
Heather Doran, free lance writer.