If we are anxious, our nervous system becomes agitated. If we are depressed, the system slows or shuts down. In both cases, we are overwhelmed by our emotions.
Life can be overwhelming, and it's essential to address the physical and emotional challenges that come with it. Here, we explore ways to navigate these feelings and find balance in your journey.
Most parents have experienced physical and emotional challenges, whether it's dealing with the unexpected twists of parenthood, managing work and family, or coping with changes like pregnancy, childbirth, or moving. These times can be unusual and unpredictable, leading to moments of overwhelm.
Here are six strategies to create a strong foundation for our physical and mental health:
1. Stay connected
It is vital to maintain and nourish relationships. Try to be open and vulnerable with others in order to give and receive support as needed. A person cannot support you if they don’t know what is going on with you. Reach out regularly to meet, have a call or text those who are trustworthy and who do not agitate or upset you. If there are some people in your circle who you trigger you, kindly limit your contact with them. It is essential to set and maintain boundaries.
2. Create structure
Another easy tactic is to maintain or create structure in your day. Think of it as the
scaffolding that keeps us safe and secure. Try to get up at the same time, eat, work, care for children.
The benefits of exercise for our physical and emotional health has been well
documented, so make sure to engage in it daily. This doesn’t have to look like traditional methods of exercise. Do whatever makes you feel good as long as you are moving. This could simply be getting up from your computer every half hour to do some simple stretches, dancing to your favourite song with the kids, or rearranging your furniture.
4. Healthy eating
My mantra to my kids has always been food is mood! Research shows that what we eat
actually does impact our emotional state, as our food provides the fuel for our brain. In
addition 95% of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, appetite,
mediate mood and inhibit pain is formed in the gastrointestinal tract. The relatively new
field of nutritional psychiatry studies this brain/gut connection. Healthy eating doesn’t mean cutting out all the foods you love, but limiting processed food and adding as much nutrition to meals and snacks as possible. This is particularly hard to do when we are stressed as we seek comfort foods, so just do your best.
There are a lot of misconceptions about Mindfulness. Put simply, it is a process of
slowing down and noticing sensations in the body as well as the comings and goings of
thoughts, without judgment. Don’t get stressed out if your mind wanders or you have
trouble breathing the way the practice suggests. Just try to relax and enjoy a few
minutes of solitude. Yoga Mamas provides in clinic and online yoga classes to help you slow down. There are also a few apps for those on the go, recommended by Parent’s Magazine: Smiling Mind, Expectful, Gentle Birth, The Mindfulness App and Insight Timer.
Self-compassion is just what it sounds like; directing compassion towards yourself
instead of being hard on yourself. This tendency to self-shame through negative self-
talk is called the “negativity bias." Evolutionary psychologists think this mechanism in
the brain and the nervous system was designed to keep us safe from physical danger.
Unfortunately it causes us to focus on the negative more readily than on the positive.
We can learn to recognize these negative thought patterns, name them, investigate
their source, allow them to dissipate and replace them with kinder, more gentle
assessments of ourselves. Try the 20min RAIN meditation by Dr. Tara Brach to practice
If you think you may need some help in managing your mental wellness, feel free to
book an appointment.
I look forward to meeting you.
Until then stay well,
Susan Haller MSW RSW, Psychotherapist