As parents, most of us can relate to feeling overwhelmed. When we let these feelings fester, they can cause a lot of consequences internally, or lead to an external rupture. Let’s be honest, what parent hasn’t blown up before?
Laura van Dernoot Lipsky is a trauma exposure pioneer and the founder and director of The Trauma Stewardship Institute. At a recent ParentEd Talk sponsored by Metro Parent as part of a series of talks with parenting experts, she offered strategies for navigating and easing the burden and impacts of overwhelm in our daily lives.
Protect your morning
Lipsky cautions parents from reaching for an electronic device or exposing themselves to anything that is going to unnecessarily jack up their nervous system when they wake up. Social media and turning on the news are both huge triggers for most people – give yourself a break from the constant pressure to stay informed.
Science shows that being outside has a positive impact on our nervous system. She says that parents who have a few minutes to spare throughout the day can benefit from a little time outside.
Reset your nervous system
Everyone resets their nervous system differently. Some people do it with a workout at the gym, or through meditation, acupuncture or a cold-water immersion.
“Whatever you do, you want to release something from your nervous system at least six days a week to stay your best,” says Lipsky, who notes that spending time with animals can be a helpful and fun reset.
Assess your relationships
Whether it is with family, friends or colleagues, Lipsky encourages individuals to take a deeper look at the various relationships they are in, and ask themselves if they are edifying and healthy or promote toxicity. If the latter, reconsider the need for those relationships.
Pay attention and notice what is going well in your life and stop and take it in, Lipsky says.
Be mindful of addiction
If navigating addiction, be wise and safe with kindness and compassion towards yourself.
Simplify your life
Be aware of decision fatigue and cognitive overload. Lipsky offers a free resource on her website to aid parents through the process.
Prioritize your sleep
Sleep is critical for so many parts of our body and mind.
“There is every reason you might not be sleeping well,” Lipsky says. “But sleep scientists tell us not to get into sleep deficit.”
Clarify your intentions
Think about why you are doing what you are doing. Be mindful and think about how you can refrain from causing harm and contributing meaningfully.
Lipsky says that pure humor is a sustaining force.
“Humor gives me physical and psychological energy; as I have become more open and alive, my laugh has changed,” she says. “I laugh really loud now, from deep in the belly, and that’s a good thing. Physiologically that gives you an internal massage of your organs.”
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