I am a parent to two young children, a military wife, and a recovering shout-a-holic. Having struggled with an anxiety disorder my entire adolescence and adult life thus far, yelling, crying, and panicking used to be commonplace behaviors for me, even in my parenting. But as I grow as a mother, I am able to work on being more self-aware and more compassionate in my communication with others, and also to be more compassionate with myself.
There are lovely meditations, imagery, prayers, and physical activities that can help with anxiety and stress, but many parents wonder what can be done in the moment – when the dishes are clanging on the kitchen floor because the toddler thinks it’s fun, you haven’t yet had time to even look in the mirror, one child is screaming, the other is crying, somehow, there’s something sticky in your hair, and you feel like the whole world is laughing at you. . .
Quick, simple mood-balancing techniques are vital for me – and I hope that these three can be helpful to you as well.
1. Take a Deep Breath. Breathe in through your nose and fill your lungs, allowing your ribs to expand. As you breathe in, count to ten. Hold this breath for a split second before slowly exhaling while counting down from ten, and allowing your face, neck, shoulders, and wherever else you hold tension release. Repeat, if necessary.
When done fully, taking one deep breath is usually all I need to help balance my mood and undercut an anxious spiral.
2. Get some exercise. Even if it is ten jumping jacks, a series of crunches, dancing to music, or sprinting around the house, getting your heart rate up and energizing your body releases endorphins that help you calm down.
Exercise can also help to calm those little ones in your care. A screaming match can quickly be diffused to a foot race or a song and dance, and all of you will feel better as a result!
3. Change your environment. This can be as simple as stepping outside or going to another room. Changing scenery gives you a moment to be distracted from the stress at hand, so that you can take a parental time-out if needed, or simply do number 1. or 2. to balance your mood before continuing on with your day.
Remember that it’s not only OK – but imperative – to take a break to balance your mood and take care of yourself as a parent. I wish that I had known that scream-free parenting was easily in reach when I took care of myself and found ways to balance my mood and care for my needs. With these three easy tips, you can start to care for your own parenting heart in under a minute!