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3. Free Your Mind

When your body experiences stress, feelings like being worried or feeling like you have no control, your body reacts by releasing the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. When you’re in physical danger, these hormones give you the strength to flight (fight or flight). But if the stress is in response to emotions such as with new moms, these hormones build up and cause fatigue, irritability and weight retention or even weight gain. Increased cortisol levels make you crave fatty, sweet, salty, crunchy foods. To attempt to decrease the stress, we’ve come up with these behaviors:

Sleep When baby Sleeps: Let your mom do the laundry and let your husband do the dishes. The extra sleep helps your body wash out stress hormones. Missed sleep can induce insulin resistance, a condition that negatively affects metabolism and ability to burn calories, according to a new study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

The Lowdown on the Rubdown: If you don’t have time or money for a spa, ask your partner to give you a massage. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine recently published a study showing that adults who received a deep-tissue massage experience significantly lowered levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases in oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.

Go Outside: If you can, change your baby’s playtime to the outdoors. Spending time active outside can increase happiness and decrease stress. Even five minutes outside are said to improve mood, self-esteem, and well-being.

Six Minutes of ‘Me Time’: Recent research has shown that even six minutes of reading can calm frazzled nerves and reduce stress levels by 68%. If you are not a reader, listen to music. Music listeners showed decreased stress levels by 61%. Or make yourself a cup of a tea and drink it alone. The idea is to get lost in a distraction, which slows your heart rate, the physiological change that promotes relaxation. The distraction could be music, tea, books, magazines, tea or coffee, or even a bath.