Many of us are spending our thought energy in the past or the future; projecting or ruminating. This is anxiety-making and contributes to stress and overwhelm as a parent. I have found after all my studies thus far, that coping skills are paramount.
#1. The first practice I want to offer you is this:
Inhale and think of the words: “Breathe in this moment….”
Exhale and think of the words: “Breathe out the next moment…”
You can replace the words to suit your preferences:
Maybe saying “breathe in the moment, breathe out the next…”
But essentially this combination of breathwork and affirmations supports me to bring myself to the present moment, especially when I’m noticing tension in various parts of my body, or finding myself increasing in speed as I parent, increasing the pitch of my voice (high pitches can alarm the amygdala), or increasing the number of words I’m using in my day to day functions and as I parent.
More often than not, breathwork doesn’t work for a lot of people because we aren’t breathing in a way that stimulates the vagus nerve and tells our nervous system to go “Ahhh, you’re okay. You can ‘rest and digest’.” (A.k.a. ‘relax’). Expanding the belly in our breathwork supports us to do this (therefore this is our objective when using breathwork to support our nervous system and regulation). And affirmations can work because we consciously tell our mind “what to do” and this provides instructions to our body.
Effective breathwork has been proven by countless scientific studies (remember the word effective…)
#2. The second practice is to focus on PLEASURE.
Finding pleasure in everyday activities is an important part of self-regulation and well-being. This means savoring the little moments that might bring us joy throughout our day. Maybe savoring the sips of hot coffee, or savoring the dessert after dinner a bit more (instead of simply ingesting it…), or savoring the pleasure in joy-inducing activities. For me, dance is an important outlet for emotions and a source of play and self-expression. But this also means I may cry often or feel anger in my dance movements. But after my dance sessions, I feel the pleasure on a cellular level.
#3. Focus on the decision, not the outcome.
This one has saved me from countless episodes of suffering, anxiety, overwhelm and frustration. We become less consumed or attached to the outcome of a decision, and focus on having made the decision instead. For example, I focus more on the decision that I did everything I could to get us to school in time in the morning, instead of focusing on if we actually did or did not make it on time (the outcome). I don’t control my child’s behaviors, whether they put their shoes on or not, or whether they have a meltdown in the morning. But I do control how I show up, my efforts, how I support them in the mornings, the strategies or skills I employ, or any of my own actions, thoughts and even emotional responses. I aim to focus on the decision to do what is in my power to get to school on time without over-powering my child or controlling my child.
I sent my husband a meaningful message yesterday, and he responded with a few random words not really making sense to me. And I was like “Did he actually read it or not?” But then, I decided to focus on my decision to have sent him the message and not the outcome of whether he read it or not.
As you engage in these practices and model them for your kids, you are influencing their own self-regulation skill development in life.
Let me know what you took from this email; just hit reply and I’ll get your message.
If you are looking for Parental Support, feel free to reach out for Free Parent Coaching Consultation. I am a Certified Master Parenting Coach, a Somatic Trauma Therapy Practitioner, a Certified SEL educator, and Certified Kids Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence Coach. Visit this page, and Choose “Parent Coaching Consult” to book a time. You may also choose a Kids Confidence Consult to discuss support for your child.