Attempting to relax is difficult, for most parents nigh on impossible. Amidst the piles of washing awaiting space on the radiator as, though it’s summer the rain will not allow you the pleasure of seeing it swishing on the line, whilst the kids thunder down the stairs in age order, for some strange reason, you come to realise you have not had one moment of rest from your critical inner voice. Constantly distracted by the endless lists of things to do, things you haven’t had the chance to do, things you wish you’d done, pulse raising. There’s not much time left. Your heart-beat jumps as one of the children begins to start screaming from upstairs- an accident? One of the others has hit him/her? Visions of an ambulance, another hospital admission for the hyperactive toddler. You’re a terrible parent. A smell of charred pizza emanating from the oven alights your senses to further demonstration of your inabilities to conduct simple activities. It’s all too much. Drenched in sweat, shaking from head to toe you contemplate running away to the circus. Does this sound like a phenomena which happens often in your house? Would Super-nanny run screaming from your family if asked to assist?
In my first instalment of self-help strategies for the busy parent I aim to offer you simple and effective ways to learn relaxation which can be slotted into your busy schedule without pushing other priorities too far aside.
Step 1: HALT (Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely Tired?)
Forgetting to eat is easy, as is eating unhealthy fatty, sugary snacks instead of wholesome foods when having to feed a baby, prepare a separate meal for the rest of the family and sit down to eat yourself. Anger, at anything from the current situation or something which happened in work earlier can also impact on your physical health as well as mental capacity to deal with daily struggles between work/home life. Loneliness can be felt even when in a room with others. Perhaps you don’t feel heard or are a single parent and the only conversation you get with an adult is from the boss. Tiredness is not just mental exhaustion, a natural, normal process requiring sleep to quieten it’s strength, but also physical. Perhaps you are doing too much, juggling many roles (wife, mother, work colleague, student), trying too hard (to please, aspire to, complete).
It’s time to REST (Relax, Evaluate, Stress reduce, Time):
Meditate on a candle flame (if safe to do so), breath deeply in and out using the three-fold breath (3 time in, 3 times out) until pulse/heart rate slow, have a bath (if you can), listen to soft music for 5-10 minutes. Evaluate once your head is clear the reason you felt such immense feelings of stress, was it the boss thing? Was it the housework? The children? What part do you play in this? Were you holding back? Being selfish? Expecting too much of yourself/others?, Ensure you create space and TIME for this process daily or whenever the need arises.
Next time we will take a look at life goals and motivation. If you wish to contact me for further advice you may do so by email.
Louise Mullins (MNCS) Counsellor, Coach and Personal consultant