So, I read this online this week:
“Being a parent is full of so much love and joy, and it also can have a big impact on the nervous system because of how much time, energy, and effort it requires.”
The post was related to living with chronic pain, but the tips seemed invaluable whatever your wellness-state:
“If you are a parent, you know that time for yourself can be a big hurdle in [insert anything you’re trying to get through, be it work demands, keeping your business afloat, doing a big creative project, self-actualising, finishing a book, having a thought or a moment to yourself, surviving pandemic year 3, or doing the work it takes to heal from chronic pain]. Here are some suggestions on how you can prioritize your [healing/self/wellness]:
- Take small steps. Even just 5-10 minutes of focusing on your breath can be helpful
- Once your little ones are in bed, commit to spending 15-20 minutes on a healing exercise, as you can soak it in with less chance of interruption.
- Ask for help and support. If taking time for yourself and your healing feels impossible, see if others can help take something off your plate.
- Let go of any “parent guilt” you may have because of your pain or symptoms.
You are doing your best, and that is enough.”
Uh, does anyone else need a small list of self-care tips like this? Of reminders of how to be kind to yourself, and tend to yourself just as you tend to a houseplant you love, or a creature you are inordinately fond of, or a beloved grandparent, or friend, or some other being that you can conjure in your mind and that will make you feel all soft and swelly-uppy on the inside?
This was a meditation practice that the wonderful Susan Reifer introduced me to this year, in her “Whistler Meditates” offerings through the Whistler Public Library (FREE! ONLINE! AVAILABLE TO ALL! particularly pandemic-proof! 7-8pm the second Wednesday of the month) — to conjure that feeling of chest-bloom, for someone easy to love… and then, WOAH, direct it at ourselves.
It’s unsettling how hard that can be.
And it’s really lovely to receive that beam of tenderness.
Today is Christmas Day. (Merry Christmas, by the way!) And if you have been busy tending to the needs of many other people today, this week, this year, your whole life it seems… OR if you are wishing you had beings to tend to, but are on your own… OR if you are feeling deep pangs for someone you can’t pull close right now… perhaps, one of these practices might help… might be a gift to self, that you deserve.
Take 5-10 minutes to focus on your breath. Outside might be a particularly nice place for that.
Say 3 times, in different voices (stern voice! kind voice! plain voice!): you have done your best and that is enough.
Put your hand on your heart and just hold it there. It’s quite magically soothing to the entire central nervous system.
Here’s a list of lovely ideas from writer and ecotherapist Brigit Anna McNeill.