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Take care of yourself for a change!

Wouldn't it be great to chuck the to-do list and the diapers, and simply check out for a while? You'd focus just on your needs, from wake-up to lights-out, until you were refreshed, emotionally recharged, and ready to dive back in.

Okay, back to reality. You might not be able to do the slacker-mom thing wholesale, but you can make an ordinary day a mental-health day by infusing it with small hits of good-for-you moves, starting first thing.


Eat a mood-boosting breakfast. An easy three-cup version: one cup each of whole-grain cereal, skim milk, and sliced strawberries or a banana. "The combination of lean protein, whole-grain carbs, and nutrient-rich fruit allows the brain to form more feel-good chemicals," explains Dawn Jackson Blatner, a Chicago-based spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Ban the word "stressful." Describe a situation as "difficult" or "challenging" instead, says Scott Sheperd, Ph.D., a psychologist in St. Louis and author of Who's in Charge? Attacking the Stress Myth. "That small switch gives you the power to do something about it. Words not only describe emotional states -- they create them."

Sing with your kids at the table. Belting out a tune with other people improves your outlook and your ability to cope, according to research at the University of Sydney.

Hang the right air freshener in your car. Breathing in scents of cinnamon or peppermint can decrease frustration and increase alertness as you drive, say researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University, in West Virginia. Even a few sticks of cinnamon in a cloth bag will do.

For longer-term benefits, sprinkle a tablespoon of flaxseed on your cereal; the omega-3's protect against depression.