Creating Calm During Tough Times
Updated: Jun 8
It’s been a tough few months. There has been a lot of upheaval. Life has changed all around us and challenged us in many ways. COVID-19 has impacted how I am able to teach and interact with the families I support (it’s all Zoom, with which I have a real love/hate relationship right now, alternating between gratitude and wanting to pull my hair out!) On a personal note, the pandemic has been just another deep twist on an emotional roller-coaster ride that began earlier this year supporting a dear family through a traumatic birth experience followed by the unexpected loss of my mother. I was teaching two classes simultaneously at this time. Maintaining a strong ability to self-regulate (a.k.a keep calm) is especially important when life throws its crazy curve balls.
As a parent myself, I need to work to keep it together, find a way what to handle whatever is going on, and to try meet the emotional needs of my children as a safe and reliable person in their lives (to the best of my ability – no one is perfect here!) When I am teaching and working with new families, I need to stay grounded and focused, able to be a source of strength and calmness that they can tune into. For you as a parent, knowing how to center yourself, to stay grounded, and to stay connected to your internal wisdom are skills you can work to cultivate daily so that those skills are there when you most need them. As the mother, your child will attune to your states. We cannot prevent bad things from happening. That’s just life and life happens. We cannot prevent our feelings – those are important guideposts for us – to show us when there are matters that need to be attended to. However, we can make an effort to respond to situations in a way that supports ourselves and, especially, that provides a safe and attuned place for our children.
This is true when you are pregnant, too. So, how do we go about handling such challenging times? When we practice behaviors and take part in activities that fill us up and calm us, this helps us cope and builds our capacity to handle difficulties. In psychology, this is called resourcing yourself. In class, I talk about doing things that "Create Calm" – which is a way of resourcing yourself.
Resources are anything that helps you cope with stress and being activated (like when we are going through a pandemic and normal life has been suspended followed by righteous protests to honor black lives and to instigate profound changes in our society – yeah, I guess that qualifies for stress!) When you develop your resources and have these to turn to during challenging times, you will be better able to handling what’s going on. (This is actually what we work on in birth classes – preparing and resourcing so that you can cope with the major stress of labor/birth and early parenting). Each of us will have different ways that help us cope, so there isn’t a right way. Less helpful ways are those that undermine our health and well-being physically, mentally and emotionally (like drinking alcohol, using drugs, excess sugar intake, exercising excessively, avoidance etc.) Your body is a glorious instrument – resourcing directly involves using your body and your senses to help restore you to equilibrium.
Here are some ideas to build your Resourcing Powers and to Create Calm in your life:
Hold hands with someone you love and care for (yes, you can do this with your quarantine bubble buddies!)
Have a conversation with a loving friend or family member
Go out in nature
Take a walk
Walk barefoot on the earth or grass or sand
Lie down on the ground – breathe and take in everything around you
Get some sunshine on your skin – breathe in that life energy
Dance to a song you love
Sing along with a song you love
Take a warm bath with Epsom salts
Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salts and essential oils
Buy flowers to have in your home (I love orchids from Trader Joe's – they last months!)
Enjoy a cup of tea (nettle leaf, red raspberry leaf, peppermint and chamomile are all great for pregnancy)
Turn off your devices after 8 or 9 pm. Light some candles.
Write in your journal.
Draw or doodle.
Meditate or pray.
Practice a relaxation exercise.
Practice gratitude. Write down or say aloud what you are grateful for in your life.
Reading this list, I realized that I’ve been indulging in too many sweets the past few days – which means I need to find other ways to resource. Today, I was able attend my remote Kundalini yoga class (love!) and I plan to light candles and dance later (I am setting my alarm so I make a date for myself and do not forget to do this - even if it's for five minutes). What are your plans to fill yourself up? To care for yourself (and thus care for your baby?) What are your favorite ways to resource and calm yourself?
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