I had a very different article originally planned to share with you this week, in honor of my series for working mom’s balancing life & parenthood, during March and April.
As life would have it, things have changed, fairly swiftly, and thus my intended message to share with you has changed for today as well.
Life is fickle in that way, isn’t it? It requires a kind of stable flexibility, or flexible stability, to really feel like you can make your way through things without getting whipped around too much.
As important as it was to me to consistently connect with you and share what I believe will be relevant and helpful, it’s just as important for me to be willing to flexibly shift my message, when I believe it will serve you better at a given time.
During this COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a lot of fear, uncertainty, anxiety and confusion. There’s been a lot of talk about what people should do and what they shouldn’t.
When times like this arise, fear can kick into overdrive, and it can become hard to know what to do. Things can easily feel overwhelming and panic can set in.
Humans don’t function optimally when panicking. It is not helpful to our minds, our bodies or our relationships.
When anxiety and fear are steering the ship, things tend to feel heavier, more chaotic and more stressful. It can feel impossible to get through challenges, transitions and uncertainties when the only lens we are looking out off is one of fear and overwhelm. It’s hard to make clear-headed decisions in this state, and that makes it harder to navigate the day.
These overwhelming feelings can feel amplified when you’re trying to figure out how to effectively work from home, and appropriately parent your children in the house too. If we all want to maneuver through these times as best as we are able, it’s essential that we choose to tap into tools that help us stay grounded, especially as parents.
As a working mom myself, I know the delicate balance required when working and parenting. It requires that same kind of stable yet flexible handling that I mentioned before.
What a stable yet flexible household looks like for one person, may be very different from another’s. So, rather than go into details about how to structure your day, I wanted to offer two tips that will help you to start your day off centered.
By starting your day off anchored in a more hopeful or peaceful state, you’ll feel better equipped to move through your day in whatever stable yet flexible way works for you. You’ll be better able to demonstrate to your kids how to navigate stressful times without losing yourself. You’ll create more opportunity to experience a clearer-mind, so that you’ll feel more focused and productive while working.
Top tip #1
Set aside time for yourself each morning.
Whether it’s 5, 10, 20 minutes or more. It’s important to intentionally start your day off with a moment for yourself. Use this time to turn inward and connect with yourself. For some people, this may mean waking up earlier. For others, it may mean closing a bathroom door, or putting work to the side for a few minutes longer. Regardless of what shifts you may make, the benefits of having a few moments to yourself, for yourself, in the morning, are undeniable.
The mornings can be stressful for many parents. Schedules may be off, leading to disarray. You may try to sleep in and get woken up by the kids. Perhaps you’ve been trying to get work done before the rest of the house wakes up, and eventually get hastily interrupted. Starting your morning rushed or crowded will ripple effect throughout your day. Choosing to set aside time specifically for connecting with yourself and harnessing an emotion that feels-good to you, may sound simple, but it’s powerful.
What you choose to do during this time, is up to you. The critical piece is that it’s something that feels good to you and isn’t focused on getting anything externally completed- like work or breakfast. It’s a “you time”. It’s a time to allow yourself to decompress without other demands pulling you every which way.
Focus in on engaging with something that brings you to an internal sense of peace, joy or hope. Some ideas are: reflecting on what you’re thankful for, prayer or meditation, yoga, read an inspirational book, put headphones on and dance, sip tea while watching nature through the window, or write.
Once you’ve completed top tip one, you can hop over to top tip two.
Top tip #2
Be clear about what’s in your control and what’s not.
Anxiety, fear and panic thrive when it seems things are out of control. So, rather than focus on all that’s not within your control, like schools shutting down, clarify what is within your control.
Write it down. There’s no need to create an extensive list. You can write down whatever is on your mind, or what you know is on your children’s minds. Sort it into two columns. Three things per column is plenty. One column is what you can directly control today, and one column is what may be on your mind, but can’t be controlled by you. Fold the page in half so that you can only see one column at a time.
Turn the paper to the side of what is within your control for the day. Anytime you notice your mind focusing on what you can’t control, remind yourself that you can’t focus on both sides of that paper at the same time, without splitting your focus. Bring yourself back to that emotion that you grounded yourself in, for tip one. Breathe.
This is a good, quick activity, that you can use by yourself or with your kids. If at any point anxiety feels like it’s spiking, you can look at your list to remind yourself which you are choosing to focus on at any given moment. Whether you are focusing on what you can control or what you can’t, it makes a big difference.
Let me know how these tips work for you.
Dr. Toni Warner, LCSW, MSW, MeD, is a mother of three, a transformational life & wellness coach for busy professionals seeking balance and a licensed psychotherapist in Pennsylvania. She’s been in the helping professions field for over a decade.
Dr. Toni is the founder of Dr. Toni Coaches, LLC, a coaching, educating and consulting business. It’s mission is to inspire and enact meaningful change in the world by helping heart-centered impact makers create work, life & relationship balance, allowing them to more deeply and meaningfully live, love, connect and share their gifts, enhancing their lives and the lives of others.
Dr. Toni is also the founder of Authentically Me Psychotherapy, LLC, where she supports high achieving and creative individuals who are struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, burn out and disconnection, to get in touch with their core selves so they can live more fully and authentically aligned lives.
For therapy in PA: www.authenticallymepsychotherapy.com
For transformational life coaching: http://bit.ly/drtonicoaches
***Please note that coaching and therapy are not one in the same; they are separate services and the above mentioned are separate business entities. If you are unsure which service best fits your needs, simply reach out and ask: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com