Let me start of by saying that I am not writing this post from a place of mastery. I am not an expert on peaceful parenting. Anyone who actually knows me is laughing hysterically because I am not really an expert on peaceful anything. I don’t do yoga (minus the pants) because I have anxiety about not being able to calm my mind enough to calm my mind. And yes, I realize that is totally counterproductive. If you want tips on how not to be stressed in the first place, I may not (yet) be your girl. I’m a work in progress. I’d suggest checking out this post by an awesome fellow blogger, Corinne, over at the Pragmatic Parent. For those of you looking for a firehose for your flame, I am your girl! This is a collection of techniques I have found either through friends, professional contacts in healthcare, or personal experience. I will lay them out based on how much time you have until your metaphorical pot bubble over.
Find something cold. I know this sound ridiculous, but something that works for me when I am about to scream obscenities or at least say things that I cannot take back is to center my mind with cold. I lay my hand on my solid surface kitchen countertops and count to ten or 97, depending on the mood.
Mindful breathing. I know you can’t even read this post anymore because your eyes are staring at the ceiling in a hard HARD eye roll, but trust the process. Or trust the girl who has a lot of experience loosing her shit. Two good ways to breathe (I know, I know) are the classic in through the nose out through the mouth while counting or focusing on something happy or at least less annoying in your mind or square breathing. Square breathing is a great one for me because it does the work of visualization for you. While you inhale visualize the vertical side of a square, hold your breath while you visualize the top of the square, exhale on the opposite vertical side, and hold again for the bottom to close. I aim for counts of four because even numbers are pretty.
Naming your feelings. This is my new favorite with my toddler. And will likely be featured in a future post entitled “I Get It. I Also Throw Tantrums in My Early Thirties: An Open Letter to Toddlers.” It goes a little something like “Mommy is feeling frustrated because you peed on the couch so I am going to put myself in timeout before I am reduced to stunting your elimination development by speaking in four letter words.” Just kidding. Really it makes me think about my emotions before I say something I regret or worse do something I don’t want to like scream or take away screen time for a decade. Also works with adults, but they often get annoyed when you use the sing song voice while describing your emotions. You have been warned.
Shower. And by shower I mean cry and shower. Sometimes we all just need that good release of runny mascara and clean hair. Showers are designed to be soundproofed for a reason. Not only so innocent ears don’t fall victim to poor renditions of Party in the USA (Yes, I googled most popular song to sing in the shower because I am just that cool.)
So consider the one hour mark to be a flow chart. Are you angry/hormonal? Then I’d say exercise. Get some endorphins flowin’. Let your body’s natural mood booster work for you. You may not be into the idea at the start, but I have never run better (and I am not a runner) than when I run pissed off. I think that is the only time I have ever experienced a “runner’s high”, of course that may have been lack of oxygen to my brain.
Are you weepy/exhausted? Nap. Or at least rest. I love LOVE books on tape. I find I can plow through books even when I feel too tired to keep my eyes open. Maybe you just need a little time in bed with your eyes shut. Sleep often evades me when I am super stressed. However, a relaxing escape into a serial killer thriller (or beach read- to each their own) is just what the doctor ordered.
Well now this really depends. Have you noticed that the longer the time period the more flow charts are needed? My go to would be date night. That is often not possible for me with my husband’s schedule. Additionally, sometimes we’d rather hang with the girls to relieve some stress because I never take my motherhood stress out inappropriately on my husband (heavy sarcasm). If this sounds familiar, you might enjoy Dear Husband, I’m Sorry You’re My Scapegoat. In any case, I’d say a girls night out or in. On the other hand there is absolutely nothing wrong with losing yourself in a craft, baking, old Grey’s Anatomy or whatever mindless scrolling you’d like to do. Vegging is stress relief. Even if it’s a veggie tray for one. Often as mamas we don’t get a minute to wipe our own bottoms solo all day. This isn’t a complaint but merely fact. Solo time is the most restorative of all. Just don’t stay up all night doing it. Another trap I often find myself in, but that will have to wait for another post.
What are some ways you decompress in the moment?