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The Most Important Act Of Self Care You Can Do Right Now

​I wake up most days feeling full of energy and ready to take on the challenges ahead.

I get the kids fed and ready to start their day…and have my first of 597 cups of coffee (all of them equally amazing). Things are OK. 

As the afternoon wears on, by about 3 pm I can start to feel the energy drain from my body. I get slow and lethargic and my limbs feel heavy. 

So much for exercising or cleaning the kitchen floor…

I hate this feeling. I hate feeling tired, unproductive and irritable. There are still things that need to be done, darn it. 

The day wasn’t supposed to go this way… 

Maybe it’s the opposite for you. Mornings might find you feeling like a wet blanket…and then by lunch, you somehow work up the motivation and positive energy to play with your kids or do the laundry. 

Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve been learning in all of this stay-at-home craziness:

Wherever I’m at emotionally is OK. 

While this may seem simplistic at first glance, accepting moods and emotions just as they are, has proven very challenging for us human beings. 

Especially when you’ve been taught throughout your life that to feel SAD, MAD and SLOW isn’t OK. 

We internalize all of those ‘don’t cry’s and ‘you’ll be ok’s’ and ‘be tough’s’…and now we’re fully grown adults who get mad at ourselves for having very normal and healthy emotions. 

Why does this matter?

During my clinician training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (basically just a popular curriculum for teaching mindfulness developed by Jon Kabat Zinn), I learned that this phenomenon is a concept known as ‘secondary pain’ and it matters A LOT because when you RESIST and FIGHT your emotions, you end up making things 10 times worse. 

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Not only are you experiencing the discomfort of your primary emotions… you then invite in a bunch of guests known as ‘secondary emotions’ to the party. 

What does fighting or resisting your emotions look like? Well, it can look like all of these things and many more: beating up on yourself internally, excessive anger, numbing with screens, food, shopping, alcohol, exercise, or distracting yourself with work.

Essentially, instead of being present with and allowing yourself to feel emotions of overwhelm, sadness or anger you dig an ’emotional hole’ that ends up being much much deeper. 

Here’s a quote that I’ve been holding close right now:

“The best way out is always through”

It’s a quote from the poet Robert Frost, but it’s been adapted in many contexts to symbolize the importance of allowing ourselves to feel our emotions… in order for that emotion to pass in a healthy and natural way. 

After all… that’s what our emotions are designed to do. To come and to go, while serving the purpose of communicating something to us

Emotions as a chemical reaction only exist for a mere 90 seconds. 

Related > 10 Insights of Remarkable Parents from a Family Therapist

So, while I hate my mid-afternoon energy slump and not getting any cleaning or exercise in, I’ve been getting a whole lot of practice learning how to soften and accept, after my initial knee-jerk response of irritation and frustration.

This usually sounds something like this,

“It’s ok that I feel yucky right now. It’s understandable. There’s a lot going on and I did the best I could today. My body and emotions are trying to tell me to slow down and I don’t need to fight this”.

I’m doing my best to roll with the waves of my emotions, preventing them from becoming a tsunami. 

After all, life is offering up plenty of ’emotional tsunami’s’ right now as it is. 

Related > 25 Mindfulness Activities for Kids (they’ll actually want to do!)

Wherever your moods take you throughout the day is OK. If you need to take the afternoon off- for Pete’s sake lie down on the couch for a few hours.

If you need to break down and cry, let those tears flow mama. 

If you don’t have the energy to make dinner tonight let the kids eat cereal… for all 3 meals. 

If you’re a crabby lunatic for the first hour of ‘schooling at home’, forgive yourself, let it go, and move forward. 

If you need to scroll for a bit on social media, don’t stress about it, just be aware of your actions and explore other outlets too. 

Listen to what your body and emotions are telling you and find the peace and empowerment that exists in LETTING emotions BE and letting things GO.

This, is the most important self-care you’ll ever do. 

 

Other related articles:

Parenting in a Pandemic: How to Protect Your Child from Stress and Anxiety

How to Raise an emotionally intelligent child

10 Everyday Ways to Improve a Child’s Behavior and Mood

75 Calm Down Strategies for Kids that Work {Printable}

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