As mothers we often stress over things that only MIGHT happen.
Stress is essentially fear, and very often this fear based reaction is based on something that hasn’t even happened – we find ourselves getting worked up about what MIGHT happen. This is VERY common in motherhood because we are worrying about not only ourselves but for our whole family. This is detrimental to our own health and here’s why:
Lisa Rankin M.D (Mind Body Medicine Physician) said the following ‘The body is beautifully equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that know how to fight cancer, prevent infection, ward off heart disease, and aging. But these self-repair mechanisms are turned off every time the body is in stress response. This wouldn’t be a problem if your body was only in stress response once or twice a week, since stress responses are only meant to last 90 seconds beyond when the ‘threat to your life is over. But this is not what happens.
Modern-day humans experience over 50 stress responses per day—Most of them stemming NOT from real threats to your life but from thoughts about imaginary threats that will most likely never come true.’
So practical things we can do right now?
When we begin to have the familiar feedback loop of worrying/stressing about what ‘MIGHT’ happen. We need to flip our body from the stress response to the relaxation response. From fight and flight mode to rest and digest.
We need to bring our mind’s back into the present moment. Helpful tips to do this:
1. Bring yourself into the present moment: Start by looking around the room, notice the sounds, the temperature & the energy of the room. Be as conscious as you can in this moment by noting all you can, so it takes over your mind. Or even better go straight outside into nature, touch it, breathe it in and listen to all the sounds. Go for a walk if you can.
2. Gratitude – Helps with perspective. This takes extreme focus especially if you are worked up – name 5 things you are grateful for in this moment, such as: My warm house, mine and my children’s health, (my first world problems) food on the table, the big things we take for granted.
3. Breathe in for 4, hold for 7 and breathe out for 8. Repeat as often as you need.
4. Diaphragmatic breathing – Deep belly breathing. This means breathing deep into your belly, filling and emptying from the bottom of the lungs allowing your stomach to go out as you breathe in and contract back towards your spine as you breathe out. Meditate if you can.
5. Ask yourself – will this matter a week from now? Or a year from now?
6. If it’s still REALLY bothering you – this technique can really ease your worry - WRITE down the possibly scenarios to get it out of your head and come up with quick solutions for each one so you know whatever happens you have a game-plan in place.