Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bring A Sense Of Calm To Your Day

I attract high achieving, determined and Type A moms to my coaching practice.  These women come to me because the way they lived pre-children does not work when they are forced to go at a slower pace, have patience and embrace the monotony of everyday parenting.  Due to this population (and the fact they all happen to be moms) it is not a surprise that most- if not all -of my clients I have ever worked with feel stressed most of the day.  I hear common complaints such as:
  • I feel like I'm spinning all day.
  • I go through my day on auto pilot.
  • I don't enjoy the moment because I am always worried about what I should be doing.
  • I'm always rushing around and hurrying my kids.
  • I can't sit still or turn off. 
  • Even when I have time to myself I can't enjoy it. 
  • I have a restless mind during the day and at night.
  • There is no time to connect with my partner.
  • I multi-task all day long and feel like I am spread too thin.
  • I'm not tasting or enjoying my food, yet I'm eating too much.                                                       
If you can't take anything away from your to do list, you might as well feel better doing it! 

I'm not going to promise you that I have the magic answer, or if you do these four methods that you will be "Zen Like" for all eternity.  What I do believe is that awareness goes along way. If you start with just listening to your thoughts, tapping into your feelings and permitting yourself to focus on where you are experiencing stress in your body-you will automatically feel a bit better.  If you go the extra mile and are open to flexing some new muscles and committed to adopting some new perspectives-then you will feel a whole lot better overall.

Here are the steps to bring a sense of calm to your day (along with how I do them in italics):

Step 1: Decide how you want to feel.
How would you like to feel throughout your day?  Stop focusing on all that needs to get done, but how you would like to feel while doing it.

 I want to feel calm, in control of myself, focused on gratitude, connected with the people I love on a daily basis and stay in the moment with whatever I am doing.

Step 2:  Create a mantra, find an inspirational quote, poem or story that reflects how you want to feel.    Once you find or create your words get to know them well.  Decide what the words mean to you.  Post these words in your car, by your bed, on your computer etc... Read them, feel them and reflect on them often.


Step 3: Do a body scan  before getting out of bed each morning. A body scan is simply allowing yourself to sit still for a moment or two to actually tune into your body.  Are you thirsty, hungry, have tense muscles or have to pee?  Take care of your needs by drinking, eating, stretching, taking a warm shower or using the bathroom.  I know this sounds silly, how many of you don't take your first drink or bite of food until lunch time? Do you still have a child that wakes you up screaming each morning and you jump out of bed to tend to their needs?  Either make them wait 5 minutes (if you can tune them out) or do this scan directly after their immediate needs are met.  This is also a time where you may find you are feeling a little run down or are holding stress in your shoulders or jaw.  See if any patterns come up for you.

I perform a body scan each morning before getting out of my bed (sometimes despite the dogs whining to go outside or a kid already jumping on me or yelling at me to help wipe their butt).  I usually find my muscles are tight and I am thirsty.  I stretch upon getting out of bed and drink a glass of water before doing anything else.  

Step 4:  Practice the body scan and mantra several times a day.  If you find during your body scan that you need something, allow yourself to have it.  When you call back your mantra if you discover that you aren't in alignment, give yourself permission to identify whatever it is that is getting in your way and restart. When you first start experimenting with this you may forget the entire day to call back your mantra or practice the scan.  However, you are training yourself to be in touch with what is going on with you emotionally, cognitively and physically.  It is a practice on slowing down and becoming aware. It will get easier.  If you can't seem to remember to do these exercises throughout the day, set a timer.  You can start with 2-3x a day if that is all you can manage right now.  When the timer goes off-stop, do the body scan and call back your mantra.

I often find that my shoulders are up to my ears from stress, that I am not drinking enough during the day and that I had not been mindful of what I have done since my last body scan.  I give my body what she needs and allow myself to figure out what is preventing me from being calm, content and connected and then call it back.

What do you think?  Is it worth a try?  It may sound complicated at first, but like anything new-it takes practice.  Any takers?  I would love to hear from you after you try it for a couple weeks.