How to: Deal With Stress Purposefully

How do we respond when we are in high-stress situations? Our bodies react in certain ways: Fight, flight or freeze. This is to protect us from dangers, but in everyday parenting often the situations we are in aren’t necessarily dangerous to us or our child, yet we still react the same.

At Citywise we know how difficult these situations can be for parents, we want to support parents to enable them to deal with stress purposefully and find ways they can express self-care to themselves.

How can we respond to our children instead of reacting?

Mindfulness is a buzz word today, you may have heard of it before, you may practice it yourself or, like me, it may seem like something you’re not fully convinced is something that would help.

“Mindful parenting means that you bring your conscious attention to what’s happening, instead of getting hijacked by your emotions.”

Mindful parenting means that you’re paying attention to what you are feeling, you’ll still feel negative emotions, but instead of reacting to them, you’ll take a pause before responding more purposefully.

Motherly, a parenting blog, suggests the benefits of mindful parenting are:

  • You become more aware of your feelings and thoughts
  • You become more aware and responsive to your child’s needs, thoughts and feelings
  • You become better at regulating your emotions
  • You become less critical of yourself and your child
  • You become better at standing back from situations and avoiding impulsive reactions
  • Your relationship with your child will improve

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like something I would like to explore more!

How does it work?

Motherly explains,

“Think about your most recent argument or a frustrating situation with your child. What feelings are triggered? Are you angry, ashamed, embarrassed? Try to experience your emotion or trigger as a wave coming and going. Try not to block or stop the emotion. Don’t push it away. Don’t judge or reject it. Don’t try to keep the emotion around. Don’t cling to it. Don’t make it bigger than it already is. You are not your emotion and you don’t have to act on the emotion. Just be there, fully mindful of it. Remind yourself that you don’t need to blame yourself or your child for what happened.

Next, try to see the conflict through your child’s eyes. If you can’t see goodness in your child during a tantrum or argument think of a time when you felt connected with your child and responded with kindness. Try to remember that version of your child when you are triggered.

As you go throughout your day make an effort to notice when you start to feel anxious or annoyed. That may be a signal that you are being triggered. Once you figure out your triggers, you can move to the next step.”

Breathing and finding space in moments of stress is the most important part of this. Focusing our attention on our body and breath allows us to slow them down which in turn regulates our emotions, in turn, our ability to respond well increases.

Listen to an example of mindfulness in the player below. You can listen to the audio of guided meditation, produced by UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC), in the player below; if it doesn’t play, you can find it here or download it from MARC’s website.

Want to find out more? Read the full article here.