Back to reality
So, the schools are back after the Christmas break and if your house is anything like mine, it’s the calm week before reality kicks in!
I’m lucky as my girls really enjoy school so I don’t have that hurdle to overcome but we do have our fair of share of challenging morning moments. Moments that (usually depending on me and my response/ reaction) can easily turn a calm morning in to utter chaos.
I really do think the majority of kick- offs in my house happen due to how I deal with the situation. My mood, my tolerance levels etc. With that said I thought it might be helpful to share my ‘emotion emergency’ practice to get through the moments where you feel like you are about to explode! Yes, you know what I mean, you have been keeping it together all morning, dealing with the wee niggles and coping pretty well with it all – then that one thing happens. That one teeny tiny thing that sends you in to full on volcano eruption. Like ‘Anger’ when he is out of control in the ‘Inside Out’ movie and the flames bursts out of his head. (If you haven’t seen inside out there is a great clip here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HQIg3ZwAs0) Can you relate? – I know I can.
So, what do we do? Well, as soon as you notice the bubble of that volcano beginning:
- Stop – what you are doing (just for a moment)
- Take Notice – of what you are feeling (Name it and where you feel it). What you are saying in this moment either out loud, to yourself or both – Notice the chatter. A lot of the time we internally wind ourselves up so its great if you notice what you say and ask if it is helpful to you at this moment. Usually its not.
- Observe – your breathing and consciously slow it down. Try to really breathe right down into your stomach. When we breathe this way, we send a signal to our brain to let it know everything is ok. I am ok and there is no threat, allowing the stress response to calm. Try breathing in for the count of 4 and out for the count of 5 (up the duration of the outbreath as the breath flows easier to 6, 7 and then 8)
- Proceed – move forward with a clearer, calmer response. Once you have dealt with whatever it is, let it go! Don’t hold on to it, or churn it over in your mind, move on. I was (and still can be a holder and its not an easy thing sometimes to let go, however it really is a great technique to master.
There is a story about how African Hunters used to capture monkey’s which is a powerful metaphor and looks at the act of simply letting go!.Hunters used glass jars with an opening just bigger than the a monkey’s hand. The put treats such as bananas and nuts in them to lure the monkeys in. Sure, enough the monkey would reach in for the treat and grab it making a fist. The monkey’s hand in a fist was of course bigger and did not fit through the opening of the jar. The monkey therefore was trapped. The monkeys never let go of the treats in order to escape. The held on and were captured. The simple act of letting go would have made such a difference for these monkeys and it will for you too. Let go of the things that don’t serve you well. Don’t go over or wait on things happening because that is what’s happened before. Treat each morning as it is a fresh start, a new day.
My Morning Moments
Finally, think about what you need and your own self-care. You will find you are much less reactive, if you are taking care of yourself and starting your morning in a positive way. Here are my top tips (what works for me):
1. Set your intention as soon as you open your eyes– I have a mantra I use every day: Today I will be the best I can, I am me and that’s enough. Or, I cannot control everything it is not my job. Or something more general such as; Everyday in everyway things get a little better.
2. Try and get up before the kids – I usually get up at least 30 mins before the kids to allow me time to get myself ready or have a little space first thing. I use my shower to bring my awareness to the present so rather than planning the day. I listen to the water, feel the heat of the shower, smell the shampoo, notice the bubbles etc…. it’s a great way to start the day.
3. Be organised – get as much as you can ready the night before. Never fall in to the trap of ‘I’ll do it in the morning’ it never works! Seriously even at those times where you truly can’t be bothered, it still a better choice than leaving it until the morning!
4. Get the kids organise what they can too the night before.
5. Breathe – no matter how busy the morning gets take a moment to just breathe.
6. Set the time to be ready 5 minutes earlier than needed. Our mornings usually get a lot more stressful when we are actually trying to get out the door, with toilet trips, missing shoes or forgotten snacks. I have found by adjusting the time to be ready for it has dramatically reduced the stress
7. Walk to the school if you can / Get Outside. On the walk up to school, try and be mindful and get the kids involved too. Notice what you can see, hear, and feel as you walk. If you are in the car you can or if the kids walk up by themselves try and grab a short walk before work. Even if you park a little further away or get off at the stop before. It’s a great way to transition from home to work. If this is not possible, if you drive, when you arrive at your destination, sit for a few moments before getting out of the car and bring your awareness to the moment. Notice yourself sitting on the seat, the feel of the steering wheel etc. Take a couple of conscious deep breaths.
Life is so full of hustle and bustle that sometimes the way to make changes is to change the way you do something you are doing anyways. Give it a go and see how you get on, remember small changes make all the difference so even if you can only manage to embed a couple of these steps you will still begin to notice a shift.
Remember this is a list just for you – I will be sharing my top tips on easy family mindfulness soon.
I would love to hear how you get on as well as your own top tips
Remember no matter how stressful life may seem – you are enough – you’ve got this.