No matter how you slice it, parenting can be overwhelming. The responsibilities feel like they keep piling up, and it's common to feel like you can never get ahead. We constantly read about the importance of self-care, but the strategies available seem either too expensive or too time-consuming! Mothers need a way to find a sense of calm that isn't time-consuming or cost-intensive.
Anchor, Breathe & Engage
- Anchor - When your brain is spinning and sinking under to-do lists, we need to bring the mind back to the here and now. For this reason, it's helpful to have an anchor. An anchor is something we can use to bring the mind back to the present and stabilize the speed of our thoughts. To do this: stand tall with your feet shoulder distance apart and plant them firmly into the ground beneath you. If sitting, sit tall with feet planted on the floor. Notice the support underneath you and imagine drawing energy up from the floor/chair beneath you.
- Breathe - The breath can halt the brain's stress response. One example of breath work practice might look like: Breathing in for a count of four, holding at the top for a count of seven, and breathing out for a count of eight. If you feel anxious when holding your breath at the top, reduce the count to something that feels manageable. Repeat this breath practice three to five times.
- Engage - Another technique that allows you to step into the present moment is to engage your senses. Notice three things in your immediate environment. To do this: Name one thing you can smell, one thing you can hear, one thing you can see, and one thing you can feel.
Why Anchor, Breathe & Engage Matters
It can be tempting for parents to put themselves last, but taking care of yourself when feeling overwhelmed is essential. Why? It's impossible to pour from an empty cup.
Additionally, stress impacts everyone around us. According to a study done by the American Psychological Association:
Two-thirds of parents think their stress level has slight to no impact on their child’s stress level. However, only 14% of tweens and teens reported that they are not bothered when their parent is stressed.
Children soak up and mimic their parent's behavior. Therefore, when they watch their parent manage stress in unhealthy ways (over-consumption, emotionally checking out, volatile temper, etc.), they will grow into adults likely to lean on those same tools to navigate stress. In the same way, if children grow up with positive examples of stress management, they will grow up with healthy coping mechanisms.
If you allow self-care to be a priority, your children will be better equipped to make self-care a priority as they become adults.
You're Worth it
It doesn't matter if you're a working mom, single mom, stay-at-home mom, or work-from-home mom, we all tend to put others' needs before our own. It almost feels like a job description of motherhood. Making time for yourself is easier said than done.
However, being a loving and attentive wife/mother/neighbor/employee/PTA member/girl scout troop leader is challenging when you're constantly overwhelmed. Your stress level impacts your relationships, both with others and yourself.
If no one has told you lately, you are worth being on your priority list. You are worth taking a few moments to anchor, breathe, and engage.