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Motherhood is a constantly demanding, 24/7-job filled with endless laundry piles and to-do lists to check off, so it’s not like you can simply switch your out-of-office notification on once you’re home. And with most workplaces closed due to circuit breaker, mums have to multitask more often than before now that you’re working from home.

However, constantly giving and cramming your life with obligations, without setting aside time to unwind, is indeed a health hazard.

If the highs of stress aren’t offset by the lows of leisure, your cortisol levels remain sky-high, hampering your body’s natural ability to recharge. You end up wasting her precious free time with things you “should” be doing, rather than planning things that produce happiness, or just simply being. It’s all about balance – and making sure to incorporate times of relaxation and leisure. 

What is most important is not trying to develop a fool-proof strategy for avoiding all of life’s challenges – because that’s simply unrealistic – but instead finding effective techniques that allow you to press pause and reset when stressful moments do inevitably arise. Here are five simple strategies to help you find your calm and reclaim that downtime you deserve:

Aim for “good enough”

Give those perfectionist tendencies a rest. Maybe you can’t cook every meal from scratch or tick off everything on your to-do list, and that’s okay. Celebrate the small victories. We asked eight Singaporean mums to share how they’re coping during the Covid-19 circuit breaker – read what they have to say here!

Set a chore deadline

Before starting tasks, think about what’s absolutely necessary and what can be dropped to make room for fun. Ask yourself, “Will my world collapse if my clothes aren’t washed and ironed for a few extra days?” Set an alarm for a designated amount of time. Spread the domestic load over the week.

Use your senses

Stress often leads to overthinking and focusing too much on the past or future, rather than what is right in front of you. To ground yourself in your body and come back to the present moment, take a minute to do a short sensory exercise. Notice five things that you can see, four things that you can feel, three things that you can hear, two things that you can smell, and finally, one thing that you can taste. 

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Self-affirmation is key

Experiment with affirmations such as “I am calm, relaxed and at peace” or “I am letting go of all tension” to generate the kind of energy you want to feel.

Release tension in your body

Yoga works wonders, but in the middle of a dilemma you can’t exactly roll out your mat! For a fast fix, there is a lot you can do between the top of your head and your chest. Relax your furrowed brow, unclench your jaw, let your tongue fall from the roof of your mouth, drop your shoulders, then start to breathe deeply from your belly, rather than shallow breaths from your chest. Even the subtlest changes can make a massive difference.

You can also try combat breathing, a technique employed by the police and military. It involves counting to four during each stage of the breathing process – inhale for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, then exhale for four counts and repeat as necessary. 

Text:, Additional reporting: Elizabeth Liew