It is a fact that, if you are human, at some point in your life the sh*t will hit the fan. If you’re a parent the odds are even higher. And if you’re a mother, let’s be honest, sometimes the shit will hit the fan more than once a day. #truth
While the sh*t hits the fan in our house quite regularly (I have 3 young kids after all!), something happened a few weeks ago that involved one of my children that was a little more serious. Read the whole story here.
In the lead up to this I had been practising 5 strategies to train my brain for when the sh*t hits the fan, because at some point it definitely will… and it did!
Below is one of these exercises. I encourage you to read the purpose of these exercises and how to practice them effectively by reading the introduction to this series prior to getting into the exercise.
Exercise 4: Nurture Yourself
As mothers, we spend so much time nurturing our children, that we often forget to look after ourselves. Or maybe we just don’t have enough time.
Or… maybe we don’t make it a priority (I am definitely guilty of that!).
However, when the sh*t hits the fan, we can use it as a tap on our shoulder to remind ourselves that this is exactly what we need to do: nurture ourselves.
A good way to start this is to speak to yourself as you would to one of your children, if they were sad or in a crisis. Be kind and gentle.
Ask questions, such as:
- What are you feeling right now?
- What can you do for yourself in this moment to make yourself feel held and looked after?
They may seem like simple questions, but you need to give yourself permission to dig deep with your answers and be really curious. The more you can tap into yourself, the better your answers will be.
Then DO whatever came up for you in question 2!
Imagine you are wanting to give yourself a big cuddle.
How would that look for you?
For me, on the day of the great pink dressing gown incident (a reminder of that highlight of my life (NOT!) HERE), I really needed something sweet to eat. So, I dived into a can of condensed milk.
Mainly because that is all I could find in the pantry. But, oh mama, did it hit the spot!
I didn’t eat the whole can, ha ha ha, and I don’t always have sweets when the sh*t hits the fan for me, but on this day it was just what I needed.
Other days, I exercise – sometimes it is a vigorous run or workout, other days it’s a long slow walk with my dog. It really depends on what I feel I need. That’s why it is imperative for you to tap into yourself (which the previous 3 strategies in this series will have helped you to learn. Revisit them HERE).
Ask yourself questions like the two above, as if you are your parent or your best friend.
Below are examples that may inspire some ideas of how you can nurture yourself.
You deserve it Mama!
- Eat something yummy
- Drink something you love (preferably not alcohol!)
- Watch something interesting, inspiring or encouraging
- Take a walk
- Listen to some music or a podcast
- Run, hit the gym or dance
- Have a warm relaxing bath
- Read a good book
- Bake or cook something you enjoy
NB: please do not overindulge in any of the “treats” listed. They are called treats for a reason.
The brain loves you nurturing yourself. It recognises it as a reward (there’s a hint there!*) and activates the reward centre of your brain.
Thereby the neurotransmitter dopamine is released which will make you feel more positive, energised and give you a feeling of achievement.
It might even make you feel a little bit happy *wink*
Also, new neurons are being wired together (in other words new neural pathways are created) because you are training your brain in new ways with your thoughts and actions. This will strengthen your brain to remember to nurture yourself again and again, creating a wonderful make-yourself-feel-good loop.
At this point, I would just like to say that all feelings are worth feeling. Making yourself feel good should not always be the end goal. Living in constant happiness is unrealistic. There are many lessons and much growth in feelings other than the ones we label as “positive”.
Please get familiar with them. Acknowledge them. Explore them. Just make the conscious decision to not live there.
Nobody is coming to save you!
You must look after yourself; for yourself and your children.
Give yourself permission to be kind to yourself, nurture yourself, and put yourself first.
You deserve it, and your brain will thank you for it too.
This is exercise 4 of 5. I will share each exercise one at a time, so you have plenty of time to implement it, and start training your brain. So, be sure to check my blog regularly, or sign up to get priority access.