From Worrier to Warrior
There is no other way to put it, I am a worrier. I have always been anxious, worrying, planning stuff. I have always wanted to be 100% prepared for whatever may come, writing to-do lists, creating scripts in my mind for certain scenarios are the normal for me. Since becoming a mom, the amount of stuff to worry about has skyrocketed and I cannot keep up with the emergency plans. It takes a lot of effort to quiet the worrying thoughts in my head and call up that very gentle voice speaking from my heart that says:
“This is all fine! It’s okay to not know, it’s okay to worry! You are a wonderful worrier and the world needs worriers too!”
That loving part of us is always there, all it takes to hear it is to be able to turn down the mind-chatter. I have collected a few practices here that really help me tuning into my inner best friend voice.
Talk to someone
Let’s start with a big one. It is hard because on the really bad days it feels impossible to talk because it’s hard to find the words to name feelings and thoughts. Calling someone or talking in person, does not matter, just make sure you talk somehow. Even if you text and send only emojis, keep communicating in some way and don’t stop. These talks do not necessarily need to revolve around your mommy life. For me the best talks were the ones where I was distracted by my friend’s love life or her silly jokes. Talk to your partner, talk to your family, talk to your friends, talk to your midwife, talk to your doula, talk to your support group members, talk to your social media companions. Talk.
Check in with your emotions
By taking a few minutes to actually think about how I feel helps me to acknowledge what is happening. I sit down and I imagine myself as my own best friend sitting by my side. I imagine this best friend being absolutely loving and non-judgmental, so I can share anything. Then I start putting into words either in my head or by writing down every physical sensation and emotion that I can recognize with no filters on. On some days it is only one short phrase ‘I don’t know’, on others thoughts are pouring out for long-long minutes. Being aware of how I feel physically and emotionally, bringing these sensations into the level of consciousness gives me a bit of perspective and creates space for new emotions to surface. I go back to this practice very often, it helps me many times to take a step towards reconnecting with myself and with my emotions.
Have a good old cry
When I feel exhausted of all the little and broken sleeps, when I feel like a terrible mom and the guilt peaks, when I feel powerless next to my desperately crying or sick child, when I feel overwhelmed because too many people try to tell me how I should do things, when I feel like I don’t exist, when I feel alone with everything, I just need to let it out. Maybe you too. When I let it out, relief comes, love takes over, the mind clears, self-pity ends. All happens in just a few minutes, then I go back to where I left things. Maybe you too.
5 minutes of lying with legs up the wall
If I had to choose only one yoga pose for the rest of my life, I think it would be the Legs Up the Wall pose. I will probably write a separate post just about this pose, it is so gentle and beneficial for both body and mind. Look for a wall space in your home preferably with a carpet underneath so that you feel nice and warm. Lie on the ground with your buttocks touching the floor while your legs are up and resting on the floor. No need to force straight legs, keep a nice and generous bend in the knees. Stay here still for a few minutes while breathing. You can also close your eyes and place your hands on your belly to feel your breath moving through your body.
Watch out for your social media usage
Social media can be great, after having a baby I found people, resources and reassurance that helped me through difficult moments. Sometimes it was a distraction, other times it made me laugh. But I always found someone out there who was going through the same or almost the same thing. And there are the traps. The addictive nature, the fear of missing out, the gamified likes and follows, the mindless scrolling... I find that in stressful, anxious periods social media doesn’t make me feel good, so I try to take a break and come back only when I feel a bit more grounded.
Create your emergency self-care tool box
An emergency self-care tool box is basically a little reminder for challenging days about a few small little tools that make you feel better in stressful situations, anxious moments. All you need to do is to take a piece of paper and write down 5 things that will help you the next time you have a difficult day. (For example my tool box includes breathing, taking a few minutes walk, doing a particular yoga pose etc.) Once you have your little list, put it in your wallet or add the items to your notes on your phone.
Trying to fight against my worries sometimes makes them even worse, so accepting that I have a tendency to worry and being aware of the moments when it starts to build up helps me feel more in control. And of course, I also keep repeating in my head: “It’s okay to worry and the world needs worriers too!”
Original of thumbnail image is from Unsplash.