As families we share many experiences - joy, love, laughter, first steps, first words, first teeth, mood swings, accomplishments, heartbreak, to name but a few!
We do our best to empower our children to value themselves and others, to enjoy life, manage life challenges and to flourish and grow. Sometimes however we may be faced with an unexpected challenge in terms of our childs mental or physical health. In such situations feelings of helplessness, self-blame, inadequacy and fear may surface for parents. These feelings are normal. However when prolonged they may damage your health and won't help the situation with which you are faced.
This page looks at tips on how we can engage Mindfulness and Meditation to help us care for ourselves in our everyday life. Remember no child wants to have these challenges and as parents we may need some help along the way to remain healthy and balanced ourselves.
Mindful Parenting - Stress Less Sometimes we are faced with a challenge that we don't expect. When this happens, as well as professional help, we need everyday tools to help us to maintain a sense of perspective. A childs mental or physical health challenges may take different guises but as parents the impact can be similar.
We may become so immersed with the situation at hand that we forget who we are, what make us tick, what we love to do. We may even feel guilty at the thought of enjoying ourselves when someone else in our family is suffering, or feel we don't have time, or get so bogged down we find it hard to surface. Remember parents need to look after themselves so they can parent and lead by example.
Here are some self-care tips:
Make a list of all the things you love to do. Do at least one a day.
Learn to meditate
Take a walk in nature. If your thoughts intrude, say "not now" and continue your walk.
Take time out from technology. If you feel more comfortable inform people when you will be doing this.
Notice what triggers your stress or anxiety so you can be prepared
Notice 'how' you react to triggers. i.e arguing, suffering in silence or seething in silence
Be kind and compassionate to yourself
Do your best to build in a healthy night time routine
Stop looking at devices after 8pm
Get to bed at a reasonable time
Take a warm bath
Listen to relaxing music
Avoid over stimulating television
Do some gentle movement to unwind your body
List 5 things you are grateful for - no matter what kind of day you've had this helps.
When stressful emotions begin to take over, when we find 'panic mode' setting in, Mindfulness and Meditation teach us 'how to' reduce the intensity of highly charged emotions.
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor - Harvard scientist says that when a person has a reaction to something in their environment there is a 90-second chemical process that happens in the body: "Chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body, it takes less than 90 seconds.This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away. After that, if you continue to feel the emotions, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that are re-stimulating the circuitry that is resulting in you having this physiological reaction over and over again.”
Edith Ediths daughter Fran came home from school, slammed the front door and stormed up the stairs. Within seconds, Edith went from relaxed to feeling uptight and tense. She began to worry at the cause of her daughters mood, distress chemicals flooded Ediths body, her breathing quickened, her heart rate increased, her body tightened and she felt worried and fearful. Edith then reinforced her stress with her thoughts and stories, "Did someone in school say something to upset Fran? Is she being bullied? Did I do or say something to upset her?" Then she began to catastrophise about the year ahead in school and the atmosphere that would, (in Ediths mind) ensue for the rest of the evening. By now Edith had a knot in her stomach, her mind was racing, she could feel a headache coming on and she started to panic.
Edith allowed her mind to mange her, rather than the other way around. This happens to all of us from time to time, we are human after all. While logically we may know we are being irrational, it's like we don't know how to stop.
Practicing Mindfulness Had Edith stopped and noticed her body and mind reacting as the distress chemicals flooded her body, she could have recognised what was happening , connected to her breath to self-calm while she waited for 90 seconds, watching the unleashed chemicals settle.
In other words she could take steps not to reactivate the circuitry of stress by not going back to her thoughts about the situation and thereby stoop putting herself into panic. Now nobody says this is easy, but it's infinitely worth the practice to self-calm and get perspective on our thinking and the situation at hand.
As Edith self-regulates she becomes open and prepared to listen should her daughter choose to share. The situation can be approached in a calm manner. Being mindful Edith can now notice her internal reactions during the conversation with her daughter and respond in a way that is balanced and at ease. She knows that should the stress chemicals rise again during their conversation (and they most likely will) she has a moment to moment method to self-care and self-calm and can regulate her emotions. With the various techniques of Mindfulness she can balance and rebalance where necessary.
Edith presents a balanced presence in her child's life which has a strong potential for the lines of communication to remain open between them.