Healthy Stress Management for Parents in a Cost of Living Crisis

Healthy Stress Management for Parents in a Cost of Living Crisis

Parents are often under a lot of pressure to juggle their work and family responsibilities, especially during the cost of living crisis.

 The demands of budgeting, managing family life, and coping with the challenges of life can cause significant stress, which can negatively impact mental wellness and overall well-being, both for the individual, and the family as a whole. Therefore, it is crucial for parents to develop effective stress management techniques to mitigate the negative effects of stress. 

In this article, I discuss five stress management techniques to help parents during the working day in the cost of living crisis.  

Prioritize Self-Care:

Parents often put their own needs last, but self-care is essential for managing stress and overall well-being. Prioritizing self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, or even reading, can help parents reduce stress and improve their mental health. This can lead to increased mood, better mindset, and improved family life, as parents are better able to manage their stress levels and cope with the challenges of life.

Create a Daily Schedule:

Feeling overwhelmed with work and family responsibilities can contribute to stress for parents. Creating a daily schedule that includes work tasks, family responsibilities, and self-care activities can help parents manage their time more efficiently and reduce stress. This can lead to increased productivity, better budgeting, and improved family life as parents are better able to prioritise their time and focus on the most important tasks.

Connect with Other Parents:

Parenthood can be a lonely path, and social support is crucial for managing stress. Connecting with other parents, whether through online communities, parent groups, or playdates, can provide emotional support and a sense of community. By sharing their experiences and challenges, parents can gain valuable insights and support, which can lead to better improved family life, and reduced stress.

Practice Gratitude:

Gratitude is a powerful tool for reducing stress and improving mental health. Parents can practice gratitude by taking a few minutes each day to reflect on the things they are grateful for, such as their children, their health, or their job. This can help parents maintain a positive outlook and reduce stress, which can lead to improved family life, and increased productivity.

Take Regular Breaks:

Parents often feel like they have to work non-stop to manage their work and family responsibilities. However, taking regular breaks throughout the day can actually increase productivity and reduce stress levels. Short breaks, such as a ten-minute walk or stretching session, can help parents recharge their batteries and return to their tasks with renewed energy and focus. This can lead to better improved family life, and increased productivity as parents are less likely to make mistakes due to stress-related fatigue.

Parents face significant stress during the cost of living crisis, but implementing effective stress management techniques can help mitigate the negative effects of stress on productivity, mental health, and family life. 

By prioritising self-care, creating a daily schedule, connecting with other parents, practicing gratitude, and taking regular breaks, parents can help keep their stress levels to a minimum, and cope better with the challenges of life.

Incorporating these techniques into the working day can lead to greater success and sustainability for parents and their families. 

The role the Vagus Nerve Plays in Stress Related Illness.

The role the Vagus Nerve Plays in Stress Related Illness.

What is the Vagus nerve?

The vagus nerve is one of the most important nerves in the body. The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body that starts in the brainstem and extends all the way down to the colon, it plays a crucial role in regulating our autonomic nervous system, which controls our heart rate, respiratory rate, digestion, and other important functions in the body. By activating the vagus nerve, we can help to reduce stress and improve our overall well-being.

One of the most interesting functions of the vagus nerve is its role in the body’s stress response. When we experience stress, the vagus nerve plays a key role in activating the body’s “fight or flight” response. This response is important in helping us deal with immediate threats, but when it becomes chronic, it can lead to a number of health problems.

What role does the vagus nerve play?

Understanding the role of the vagus nerve and its connection to stress-related illness can help us better manage our stress and improve our overall health. Here are just a few of the benefits of understanding this connection:

  1. Improved stress management: When we understand how the vagus nerve is involved in the stress response, we can learn to activate it intentionally to counteract the effects of stress. There are many techniques that can help activate the vagus nerve, including deep breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga.
  2. Reduced inflammation: Chronic stress can lead to inflammation in the body, which has been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Activating the vagus nerve has been shown to reduce inflammation, which can help prevent these and other chronic illnesses.
  3. Better mental health: The vagus nerve is also involved in the body’s relaxation response, which can help us feel calm and relaxed. Activating the vagus nerve through techniques like deep breathing can help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.
  4. Improved digestion: The vagus nerve plays a crucial role in digestion, helping to regulate the release of digestive enzymes and the movement of food through the digestive system. Chronic stress can interfere with these functions, leading to digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Activating the vagus nerve can help improve digestion and reduce symptoms of IBS.

How to activate the Vagus nerve

Here are some ways to intentionally activate the vagus nerve:

  1. Deep Breathing: One of the most effective ways to stimulate the vagus nerve is through deep breathing. Slow, deep breaths can help to calm the body and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation. Try breathing in slowly through your nose for four seconds, then exhaling slowly through your mouth for six seconds. Repeat this several times, focusing on making your exhale longer than your inhale. Always work within your own limits.
  2. Meditation: Regular meditation practice has been shown to increase vagal tone, which is a measure of the strength of the vagus nerve. Meditation helps to reduce stress and improve emotional regulation, making it an excellent tool for improving overall well-being. Try meditating for a few minutes each day, focusing on your breath or a particular mantra.
  3. Cold Exposure: Exposing yourself to cold temperatures, such as taking a cold shower or jumping into a cold pool, can help to activate the vagus nerve. Cold exposure stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which can help to reduce inflammation and improve immune function. Start with short exposures and gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable.
  4. Singing or Humming: Singing or Humming can help to activate the vagus nerve, as it involves controlled exhaling and a deep diaphragmatic breath. It can also be a powerful way to release emotions and improve mood. Try singing along to your favorite songs or finding a chanting practice that resonates with you.
  5. Exercise: Regular exercise can help to increase vagal tone and improve overall health. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and increase cardiovascular function. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.

Incorporating these practices into your daily routine can help to activate the vagus nerve and improve stress management, leading to greater overall well-being. It’s important to note that these practices should be used in conjunction with other stress-reduction techniques, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and practicing mindfulness.

Take out some time to learn more about this important nerve and how you can activate it to improve your health today!

10 Mental Health Benefits of a consistent Meditation Practice

10 Mental Health Benefits of a consistent Meditation Practice

There are many benefits having a regular meditation practice can have in supporting mental health and wellness. 

Have you heard  about  how incredible meditation can be for your mental health? Want to know more?

I have been practicing meditation full time now for almost 6 years. Before that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I have taught my signature style fusion classes to students all over the world, and watched like a proud parent, as each one has grown and transformed through their own journey with their mental health, supported by their meditation practice.

There are just too many mental health benefits for me to list in one go, so I have chosen ten, for now. Take a look.

Here are ten mental health benefits:

  1. Reduces stress and anxiety: Meditation can help to regulate the body’s stress response, leading to a decrease in anxiety and stress levels.
  2. Improves focus and concentration: Meditation can help to improve focus and concentration by training the mind to be more present and aware of the present moment. 
  3. Increases self-awareness: Meditation can help to increase self-awareness by encouraging the practitioner to be more present and aware of their thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
  4. Enhances emotional well-being: Meditation can help to regulate emotions, leading to increased emotional well-being and a sense of overall happiness and contentment.
  5. Increases compassion and empathy: Regular meditation can help to cultivate a more compassionate and empathetic attitude towards oneself and others.
  6. Improves sleep: Meditation can help to improve sleep by calming the mind and relaxing the body, leading to a better quality of sleep.
  7. Reduces chronic pain: Meditation can help to reduce chronic pain by decreasing the body’s perception of pain and increasing the production of pain-relieving hormones.
  8. Improves cardiovascular health: Meditation can help to improve cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.
  9. Boosts the immune system: Regular meditation can help to boost the immune system by increasing the production of antibodies and white blood cells.
  10. Increases feelings of gratitude: Meditation can help to increase feelings of gratitude and appreciation for the present moment, leading to a greater sense of overall well-being.

The health benefits meditation can have on the health of our body and mind is endless. So much more than the ten incredible examples listed above. If you would like to start your own regular practice or discover tools to help you better support not only your mental wellness but your physical health too, you can take a look at the website and book in a free consultation for some bespoke support.


Laura Rowe founder of Align Lifestyle

Everyone thought I could meditate

Everyone thought I could meditate

I’ve practised Yoga for over 20 years. People always assumed this meant I could Meditate. But I couldn’t.

No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t sit still for long enough. I couldn’t bear the silence!

I couldn’t even keep my eyes closed – always peeking around the room to check people hadn’t played a trick on me, got up and left the room. No matter what, I couldn’t stop thinking of random crap. So I’d quit. I’d get up off the floor, defeated. Resigned to the fact that meditation just wasn’t my thing. Maybe next time? And in a couple of months I’d put myself through it all over again. Same actions, same results.

How were other people doing it? Why was it so bloody hard? What was I doing wrong? And how the hell do I stop myself from thinking? All those benefits, unreachable to me.

YouTube video after YouTube video, class after class – they made it look effortless! I couldn’t fit in, I couldn’t relate. Frustration was an understatement!

Then one day I discovered you don’t have to sit in silence. Huh? You don’t even have to sit still. Whaaa? Best of all, it was actually easy! Wow! Just wow! I was hooked!

All those years frustrated & it was so simple all along?

Why couldn’t someone have shown me this YEARS ago?


How to meditate ‘properly’

The first thing I learnt is that thinking is a normal part of meditation (mind blown) We can’t stop our brains from thinking anymore than we can stop our hearts from beating. This actually makes so much sense when you think about it, right?

This was the beginning of my eyes opening wide and my mind switching over to a new way of looking at meditation. The first thong I discovered was how it’s more about being kind to yourself. Not getting pissed off with the way you think things ‘should be’. How you are enough just the way you are. No force, no effort – compassion. Massive life lessons right there!

I discovered how every meditation experience is different. That it doesn’t make it right or wrong. It doesn’t mean one time worked better than the other. It gives you exactly what you need at that moment in time.

The power is in you, it’s always been there. It’s just about settling that busy mind enough to hear it.

If you’re uncomfortable the way you’re sitting you can move, if you get an itch you can scratch it. Otherwise let’s be honest, you’re just going to sit there distracted, waiting for it to be over.

For years I was convinced there were strict rules on how to ‘meditate properly’ and that’s just not true. Maybe I was just watching the wrong videos & going to the wrong classes for me?

Now I’m all about spreading the word about just how EASY this practice really is. Meditation is magic!

The health benefits are endless!

Check some of these out:

  • Reduces stress
  • Controls anxiety
  • Improves relationships
  • Encourages mindfulness
  • Promotes emotional health
  • Enhances self awareness
  • Lengthens attention span
  • Can generate kindness
  • Helps fight addictions
  • Improves sleep
  • Pain management
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Lower heart rate

You can literally practice meditation anywhere, anytime. My meditation classes are for everyone and offer a unique fusion of breath-work, mindful movement, meditation and relaxation. Take a look here for more details.

Love Laura x

What’s so important about mornings?

What’s so important about mornings?

I want to talk about cultivating a positive mindset through a morning routine.

For years I hated mornings! I did not want to get up EVER! Bed is the best! I would always lay in until the last possible moment and even then I was rushing around, still with my eyes closed, Stubborn!

I’m almost certain I’m harbouring a childhood trauma from when my poor mother would be hanging by a thread trying to get me up for school. As a last resort she would pull the covers off me and drag them out the room. Noooo! Equally as traumatising every morning! To this day I have irrational reactions to anyone trying to take my bed covers off me. Actually hilarious when I read this back!

I digress…

Now, I love a lay in as much as the next person – so don’t get me wrong. These days I’m looking for more of a balance. Overtime I have come to realise that the more I’ve implemented these small changes into my morning the more positive and uplifted I have become.

Morning routines really are so important!

They set the tone for the whole day and really do improve your mood and mindset!

Remember, energy goes where intention flows!

Starting out positive creates a ripple effect. We are turning slow and sluggish into energised and focused – no drastic life changes required!

Below are my 6 top tips for manifesting the highest of vibrations!

1. An attitude of gratitude

Mindset is everything!

It’s about appreciating the fresh start of a new day. Excited for the adventures this new day is going to bring.

Let’s face it, hitting the snooze button over and over is creating a negative mindset. It’s reinforcing cant’s before we even start the day. What we are looking for here is to be swapping “I cant” for “I can”. And that gentle flip in mindset really makes all the difference. Let’s start the way we mean to go on!

2. Smile

Super simple this one, and it takes no time out of your day!

Smiling is infectious!

It releases ALL of those feel good happy hormones – Serotonin, Endorphins, Dopamine – the lot! Smiling even sends in the big guns – Neuropeptides, those are the big stress busters. Win win!

And the best bit? You can literally share a smile with everyone you meet and ripple those feel good vibes all through the day. Yes!

3. Yoga

Stretch your body.

Moving helps to prevent negative energy becoming stagnant in the body and manifesting into disease or illness and increased immunity.

Practicing Yoga for as little as 10 – 15 minutes per day, regularly, can result in higher levels of serotonin being released into the body (our happy hormone). The brain’s gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels can also increase. High GABA levels are associated with lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Yoga really is suitable for everyone. If you are a beginner I recommend little and often, slow and steady. If you have a body you can do Yoga!

4. Meditation

Meditation lets you clear the mind and focus your intentions. How do you want to spend your day?

Meditation can literally alter our brain chemistry! It can release us of negative thought patterns and beliefs. The increase in production of Alpha and Delta brain waves created during meditation is not only responsible for rest and relaxation but for those lightbulb moments of clarity and confidence.

A short practice of 5 10 minutes a day can be enough to create a steady self care routine.

5. Affirmations

One of my favourites!

Affirmations are positive words, phrases or statements you repeat to yourself as a goal in its already completed state eg. 

I am worthy of love.

I am brave enough to achieve my dreams.

I am perfect as I am.

I am grateful for what I have.

Repeating positive affirmations can be incredibly powerful in helping you challenge and overcome self-sabotage and negative thinking. You can say them to yourself in your mind’s eye or out loud if you wish. Either way, the high frequency of your intention is out there!

Law of Attraction – If you believe it then you will receive it.

6. Boiled water

First thing of a morning, on an empty stomach, drink a cup of cooled boiled water.

In Ayurvedic tradition this is how we kickstart our Agni (digestive fire). It’s seen to be the best way to clean out the digestive system of all the impurities and stagnant waste from the day before.

Digestive health plays a huge role in our mental health. They call the gut our second brain, and with good reason! 

Poor gut health has been scientifically linked to anxiety, depression and other psychological conditions.


Take time for you. Breathe. Align your thoughts. Reset. 

Love Laura x