If you’re feeling stretched and pulled in a million directions, you’re not alone. Here are some of my favorite ways a busy mom can de-stress… that aren’t a freaking bubble bath.

When you’re a mom, whether you work inside the home or out, it’s not always easy to find time for YOU.

I’ve struggled with this forever.

Because sometimes, trying to relax when I know there is a mountain of laundry to fold or bills to pay or dishes to wash and my daughter needs permission slips signed and my son needs new socks but Amazon is a black hole of scrolling and, and, and… it makes it really difficult to actually chill out.

And honestly? Sitting in a bubble bath doesn’t do it for me. Neither does a mani-pedi (I literally get antsy waiting for the polish to dry).

I’m too wound up for relaxing, I used to tell my husband.

Side note, he is REALLY GOOD at relaxing and not doing anything. And nope, that’s not a dig. He just knows how to turn his brain off and it makes me jealous.

But I’ve been on the hunt lately for ideas that work, that don’t require me needing to scrub the bathtub out beforehand or hold hands with a stranger for 20 minutes while she tuts at my lack of cuticle care.

Here are my 7 favorite non-cheesy ways to relax as a busy mom with many balls in the air:

Journal I’ve gotten into bullet journaling lately, and while the activity of journaling my thoughts is not always a soothing activity for me, mindless doodling and coloring makes my brain calm down like no other.

Podcasts and Walk Is the new Netflix and chill, as far as I’m concerned. I rush around a lot in a typical day, but sometimes my favorite way to unwind is a walk/hike in aimless directions with a good book or podcast in my ears. Preferably also with a decent coffee in hand.

Skype with Old Friends My husband and I have moved a lot in our 16 years together, and I feel like some of my closest friends are flung to the far reaches of the planet. Decompressing with an old friend is just as goods as having wine together, and bonus if we are drinking together on Skype/Whatsapp.

Solo Lunch Date In the middle of a busy day, sometimes it’s nice to go grab lunch by yo’self and people watch for a bit. Bonus points if you can go the whole lunch without scrolling Instagram.

Meditate I’ll be the first to hold up my hand and say I am not a woo-woo kinda person, and meditation never seemed my thing. But a friend recommended Headspace to me a while back, and it has been amazing for keeping my head clear! Headspace (and Calm, and a number of other similar apps) take you through guided meditation, often centered around a theme. The meditations are 3 to 10 minutes long (you choose the length) and they are perfect to use in those pockets of time on the train or commute, waiting at school pickup, trying to fall asleep but your mind is racing with your to-do list, etc. Grab it here on Google Play or in the App Store.

Here’s the thing: self care is not a one-off thing you do when you’re feeling stressed to the max. It has to be a regular thing if it’s going to work at all.

Make a promise to yourself that you’ll keep your working mom self-care breaks.

One of my favorite books (that I listened to on a de-stressing walk, because I don’t have time for sitting down with real books anymore) is Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis.

In it, she talks about setting promises to yourself and then keeping them. Think of it this way: what would you think of a friend who constantly promised you they would do stuff with you, and then flaked at the last minute? Treat yourself as no different. Keep the promises of self care, of quiet  time, of working out, of you time, because you are as important if not more important than the promises you make to your family and friends.

Sending self-care vibes to you, busy mama bird. You deserve the break!