Tag Archives: sad mom

stressed for meditation

Too stressed for meditation.

As a mom, I relate to different states of mind. Though meditation has become part of my everyday being, still, there are situations when I’m too nervous, tired and overwhelmed with thoughts that won’t let go. Too stressed for meditation. Relaxed breathing just doesn’t happen that easily in these cases. What to do then?

Observe. I observe myself being nervous and I listen to my fast beating heart. I don’t even try to meditate or relax since it won’t work right away. Observation is the first step: it distracts me from one thing – negative thoughts and brings me to another thing – of moderate tranquility. From there, it is possible to move on to steadier breathing.

Observe also means accept. I accept my state, my craziness, my darkest thoughts and malicious fears.  After accepting, I cut them off naturally with one word. You choose your own word, I have mine.

Now, my favorite techniques on how to get going:

So, where do I start if I am too stressed for meditation?

These are not magic ways or special self-treatments. These are ordinary methods of relaxation that work only because I want them too.

Down count breaths.

As I wrote in another post, counting breaths is a simple and powerful technique. Yet, down-counting is another way to calm when ordinary breath counting does not help. The same down-counting method helps when you are working out in the gym: to do 10 push-ups is easier when you start from the 10th. The same goes for meditative breaths: I set myself a goal of, let’s say, 7 breaths, and start from the 7th to the 1st. A silly mind trick that works.

When stressed for meditation – don’t meditate. Act.

Breathing is good but sometimes it’s not enough. Physical action, dynamic meditation, movement. This movement has to be chaotic, useless, silly, purposeless. Dancing, jumping, shaking, scratching stretching and so on.

Do it alone.

It’s not always possible, but being alone works best for me. What if she cannot be alone at this moment, what if she is surrounded by children who want a happy mom?

Then, I tell them the truth, at their level of understanding. “Mommy is tired. Mommy needs a few quiet moments. Mommy will rest for just a few minutes and then will come out and play/make cookies/stay on her head.

Laugh. Or pretend to.

Remember that laugh scene from “Witches of Eastwick”? I believe, that laughter can do magic wrinkles and if not make you literally fly, then at least give that same feeling. The feeling of freedom, relaxation and transcendent joy. When too stressed for ordinary breathing meditation, mom can laugh or pretend to laugh – the extra short exhales that make the belly work hard and a faint of a smile. Slowly, mom can get used to create that pseudo-laughing image of herself on a regular basis (it is funny when you think about it). Self-irony has lots of benefits when you think about it.

 

Who will save the mom?

I’m so tired I never want to wake up again. But I’ve figured out now that it was never them that made me feel that way. It was just me, all along.”
Maggie Stiefvater, Forever

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/tired

Mom’s routine is mostly predictable. It’s the energy resources that can unpredictably end. Then she, multi tasking super-hero mom, feels on the edge of collapsing.

The sudden wave of fatigue is so spontaneous, I cannot always see it coming.

It’s not exactly that you bite off more than you can chew.

It’s more about the fact that a mom is already in the crazy agenda, moving forward slowly like heavy artillery and every shift to the side adds an unbearable weight to her every day life.

This slight shift can be anything: an unexpected project, an evening with friends that ends late at night, an exhausting day with lots of tasks and no option for anything that resembles rest… and the list goes on.

This post was inspired by an unusual wave of fatigue. It has reached a point where daily tasks and headache coincide into one painful shiny point somewhere between the hypothalamus, the Pituitary gland and the 7th chakrah.

I have created a list of virtues and evils, that help me avoid falling into the trap of self-pitying, misery and depression.

First, comes the “bad” list which consists of one thing – a thing I would almost never do.

Complaining (even to yourself) is useless and is taking your energy away.

Ever time I stand in front of the mirror (I try not to do it in the morning, not to scare the mirror), this feeling of age, time and self-criticism is covering me like a stinky mixture of negative emotions, which I did not ask for (or did I?) So here’s the thing. Every woman – mother or not – is gifted from birth in finding leaks and disadvantages in the way she looks (contrary to men, who never find any, even under a microscope).

The unhealthy self-criticism in a form of passive complaining. Do anything to avoid it, unless you want to find yourself in a loop. As for myself, I use the mirror for practical purposes only – teeth and eyebrows. The rest can wait for better times.

Silence is a true friend who never betrays.

Confucius
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/silence.html

Another form of complaining…

…is setting a competition with other mommies discussing whose life sucks more. (Just like some old people like to boast with their diseases). My golden rule is – if there is nothing constructive and positive I can talk about, I shut up. If another mommy wants to share her misery, well, she can do it. I will listen and nod with respect.

Complaining in any form – to yourself or to others – brings you nowhere. It drains you empty without giving anything in return. For me, the mere thought of all the things I could have done rather than complaining, gives me wings and inspiration.

Now for the good list:

Postpone all possible tasks for better times – leave only the most critical ones.

By critical I mean –

    • go and get some sleep
    • pick your kids from schools (unless no one else can do it).
    • buy some cooked food, fruits, yogurts – anything that doesn’t require watching the blue gas (or the red electric stove) burning and your hand stirring, stirring, stirring… they will survive, don’t worry about it.

By non-critical I mean –

    • helping kids with homework
    • cooking (you’ll be surprised how well they can manage)
    • cleaning and doing laundry (you’ll be surprised how fast the house will turn into a mess, but… I still think it’s not critical when it comes to “saving the mom”).
    • A lot of other things I did not bother writing, because they are too unimportant, for example reading this post, checking on People You May Know in LinkedIn or staring into your smartphone.

Breath deeply and count your breaths breathing-suslik

This is a primitive but one of the most efficient, productive and available methods invented especially for exhausted moms. It chases all the junk thoughts away filling you with oxygen instead. The more self-aware I have become through the years of pain and joy, the more precious I find this method to be. It works well no matter how stressed I am and it’s sort of pulling one up by their own hair. Amazing and simple, no negative side effects.

Keep a healthy diet

hot-chocolate

This is more of a general advice applicable at all times, however, it becomes super important in moments of emotional and physical crisis. My living cells, for example, react acutely on any wrong action I take in time of weakness. Therefore, my goal is not to trigger the stomach, pancreas, liver or any other digestive organs. The author of this post uses a golden rule – better eat less and drink more than eat “something”. When I learned to listen to my body and understand what it is trying to tell me, things became a lot easier. This brings me to another rule: healthy does not always means best for me at a given moment. If your body screams for a mug of hot chocolate and a piece of creamy nut cake – don’t torture yourself with salad. Go wild.

Set sleep as your top priority

sleeping dog

How come, that knowing all about the benefits of a good sleep we, moms, still procrastinate and hit the buttons of our smartphones instead of just diving into the world of Morpheus? How can we allow ourselves this forbidden luxury that eats us up, steals our beauty and youth and gives us absolutely nothing in return? (Why yes, it gives wrinkles if you wish). I am not talking about screaming babies, growling stomachs, husbands with a flu or other factors that cannot be ignored. This is about silly and unreasonable procrastination – an ugly habit, that takes away crucial hours of beauty sleep. The funny thing is, that children help mom avoiding this trap once she decides to fall asleep at the same time as they do. Children have this amazing gift of structuring moms’ (and dads’) time. You will not wait till midnight to put them to sleep, therefore, as a mom, you will be obliged to at least pretend you’re asleep, at around 9 p.m.. However, it only works for moms who directly participate in helping their child fall asleep (in my case, I still secretly enjoy it, as I am officially forced to relax).

Minimize communication with people who steal your energy

vampire-bat

Especially Even if they are family members. Yes.

This is a very important and largely underestimated rule. Every mom is different: some need attention, conversations and play dates with other moms and children (because it’s so boring to be with your child on the playground and watch her do things), others crave for silence. However, regardless of these differences, every mom knows exactly what type of other moms and people she should or should not interact with.

Annoying and preaching aunties family members, friends who ask for favors, other friends who constantly complain about life – all these should be kept away at a respectful distance at any cost (yes, there is price for everything, but isn’t your mental tranquility worth it?)

Managing mom’s relationships is a separate topic I will bring up later, while in this post – I only mention what’s based on my own experience: when mom needs a rest, the less people she interacts with, in general, the better.

And the last one, a friendly reminder: remember, that nothing lasts forever – neither the good, nor the bad.

This too shall pass

Persian Sufi poets

silly

Absurd self-pitying helps mom survive the day

When I started this blog I had a vague idea what it is going to be about.
I knew there were a lot of things I could share with the world. But I wanted to be selective and not try to please everyone.
Most of the posts concentrate on how to be a meditative, happy and balanced mom, not to burn yourself on silly things, unnecessary tasks and hassle.

So, as a “balanced” and “meditative” mom the big question came up today was:

does mom always have to be happy? And what if she isn’t? Does she have to do something about it right away?

Why does the rest of the world put up with the hypocrisy, the need to put a happy face on sorrow, the need to keep on keeping on?… I don’t know the answer, I know only that I can’t.
Elizabeth Wurtzel

http://www.brainyquote.com/

We are led to think positively, bad mood and fatigue is something not fashionable, not something you’d like to talk about in a social event, party or business conference. Because it hurts your image of success, your brand or whatever you are trying to promote. Successful people must stay cool, isn’t it so?
But I’m not trying to sell you anything, so I have the luxury to be honest.
In the past few days I haven’t felt particularly happy. There is no special reason for that other than physiological exhaustion and the desperate need to refill my energy.
I’m sure there are lots of mom who feel constantly drained out by daily tasks, but they (the moms, not the tasks), would reluctantly admit the fact that they want to drop everything. Just everything. The kids, the dishwasher, the laundry, the partner, the family holidays, the morning routine. And take a rest in a forest, on the beach, on the 30th floor of some luxury hotel or anywhere else you can think of (I, personally, choose the forest, what about you?)

The goal of this post is to remind us, moms, that it’s OK to feel bad and it’s OK not to do anything about it at the given moment. At some point you will have to do something, since you cannot drag yourself on autopilot forever (there is a high price for that in the end). But right now, in the middle of the day, just allow yourself to fall into the weakness.

What helps me in extreme cases of fatigue, when I’m on the verge of tears from my own helplessness, is to bring the situation to its very absurd.
Usually, I hate pitying myself and hate when others do. But in extreme cases, I do pity myself in a derisive way to make things look so ridiculous that it would, eventually, make me laugh.

You can find your own words for absurd self-pity, but remember the rules of the game: it must be totally grotesque, no real pity. For example: “..oh, poor girl, such a poor girl. She barely stands on her feet and she has so many things to do today…  Things she cannot postpone, cancel or delegate… Her babysitter has cancelled, her husband had gone on a business trip and she faces it all alone. What a tough world… time after time she has to pull herself on and never stop for a rest… at night she has to make the laundry, at 5 a.m. she has to milk the cows, then mend shoes and sue holes in shirts and pants… her bloody fingers cannot move from pain, and she also has to cut the woods to make some fire… it’s so cold outside… wild animals run around, she must keep on the fire… oh, don’t let her sink in the sea of her own tears. How sad life can be… Are there words strong enough to describe how much she wants to drop dead on her pillow, close her reddish eyes, let her hand dive into her hair and just stay still like this for about a century? Why, oh why, can’t there be a miracle to let things happen by themselves. Why can’t kids show up home by themselves, why can’t the damned laundry make itself, why can’t the dishes jump out of the dishwasher and settle themselves properly on the shelves. Why, oh why does she have to do it all? There is also some mental work waiting to be done… poor girl, her brain is not working well, she has memory leaks, she is going to lose the job and probably homeless since she is the one who earns all the money in the family… what a shame, and there is no way out…”

The most important part is the intonation. Even if you don’t say it out loud, the merciful song has to play inside accompanying every silly question. I assure you, that after these lamentations, if you work hard enough to bring it to an absurd, you will eventually laugh and find some bits of energy to continue through the day with more optimism. Life is not that hard, after all, and you don’t have to cut the wood to make fire.

Of course it cannot work like that forever. At some point, the sooner the better, you will have to regain the gas in a traditional way (read = sleep). But this surrealistic method has helped me so many times, that I can surely tell – it works! If it’s not new for you and you have your own anti-crush recipes, you’re welcome to share. I’m always willing to learn new survival techniques.