Breathe – everything will be all right in the end
Stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed, guilty.
These are some of the words that working Mums use to describe themselves according to Caitlyn Collins, professor of sociology at Washington University and author of Making Motherhood Work. Read the full interview on Harvard Business Review:
Becoming a parent is definitely one of the most significant life changing events and will result in a big values shift. Becoming responsible for a vulnerable little human being can be especially stressful for Mums when they return to work.
A working Mum regularly experiences rising levels of stress while attempting to juggle their multiple roles. Just how much stress will depend on many environmental factors such as the support available to them, family values and cultural norms plus the standards and expectations set.
Stress can lead to experiencing internal conflicts, often between the heart and the head as well as in the gut.
Feeling torn between going to work and spending time with your children can cause varying feelings of guilt.
Trying to spend enough time in the office and at home can be an endless struggle.
Scheduling child care support, school runs and activities on top of your working schedule besides managing your home, being a partner, a friend, a daughter/sister/aunt and all the other “roles” you have is certainly exhausting!
Not to mention that many parents become so busy that they have less time to take care of themselves and can end up feeling a sense of losing their own identity.
All of this further feeds the stress levels and can eventually lead to burnout!
Remember the flight safety announcement: “You must first put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others”.
TIP #1 BREATHE!
By consciously taking control of your breath… you can slow things down for a moment… by slowing your breath and continuing to breathe deeply and evenly for a minute or two allows you to connect with yourself and get into a more “balanced” state. Controlled breathing is an entry point to access your autonomic nervous system which controls your emotional state.
- Before you respond to an angry client – take a breath.
- As you step into an important meeting – take a breath.
- Prior to making a decision – take a breath.
- When a driver cuts in front of you in traffic – take a breath.
- As you turn to respond to your child’s tears – take a breath.
- When it’s time to interact with your kids – take a breath.
- As the quality time you had planned goes in a totally different direction – take a breath.
- As you transition between the office and home – take a breath.
Practicing this quick and easy balanced breathing technique allows you to focus more clearly and creates a little moment of calm. There may not be time to get to your regular yoga class or meditation sessions, but you are going to breathe anyway, so make it work for you and help you to control and manage your emotional state.
With multiple roles comes multiple responsibilities, duties and tasks. Most Mums can easily get tied up with attempting to fit everything in which then results in even more stress.
Reality check: You only have one pair of hands, you can only physically be in one place at any given time and there are only 24 hours available in a day.
TIP #2: (apply TIP #1) check in with your heart…
What does your heart tell you that is important right now?
Your heart holds your values, what is truly important to you and which guides you of what is right/wrong, good/bad. When what you are doing is not aligned to your values, it feels like a struggle and can lead to a strong sense of dis-comfort and worst case scenario could lead to dis-ease. Allow you heart to guide you to what is true for you.
TIP #3: Be the best you.
Whichever role you are doing, be the best you can be while you are doing it. When you are playing with your children, be the best Mum playing with her children that you can be. When reading a bedtime story, be the best story teller that you can be. While at work, be the best employee / manager / leader that you can be. When a friend confides in you, be the best friend that you can be.
And at times when you simply can’t be at your best, just be kind to yourself. You are human after all.
"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down." — Lily Tomlin
Article written by Wendy Shaw - mBrainer Trainer & Coach and founder of mBrain.me. Based in Dubai, Wendy loves helping individuals, teams and organisations literally pull themselves together by aligning the intelligences of the Head, Heart & Gut.
Wendy offers 1:1 Coaching and mBraining workshops for professional mums, coaches, leaders, managers and therapists to discover the powerful multiple Brain Integration Techniques.
Email Wendy for more details: wendy@mBrain.me