29 Jun Taking Care of your Child by Taking Care of Yourself
I don’t want to add to any existing ‘parental guilt’ by giving you anything else to stress yourself over, but I do believe if a parent knew just how much their own stress could affect their child they might just make some changes and start taking better care of themselves.
Children are like sponges, we know that; we also know that stress happens, it’s a normal part of life and sometimes helpful in that it is a natural response to challenging circumstances. Normal everyday stress can be beneficial in that it can motivate you into dealing with difficult issues, however, longer periods of stress can become toxic and impact on those around you. Children imitate what they see, they see how their parents display emotions and watch their interactions and do the same.
Many of us have experienced traumatic events that have led to periods of stress and I imagine that we all know others that have too. When those who suffer are people close to you, it will more likely have a profound impact in that you will feel and experience it. A child who experiences the impact of trauma and stress early in life might struggle to cope with stressful events as they happen in their own lives.
Whether you have children or not, you have been a child yourself and would have been affected by what was going on for your parents. I have wonderful memories of love and laughter as a child, I remember watching my mother celebrating a small Premium Bonds win and that joy filling me up inside. I also remember watching her from the doorway crying after my dad left. I was only a toddler myself, but I felt the power of those tears, the fear and sadness of being alone, the hurt and worry for her children. In those moments standing unseen in her bedroom doorway, I took on her feelings of abandonment. I knew I had to be a big girl and look after my mum so that she didn’t have to worry and wouldn’t feel alone, I gave myself the role of care taker.
Studies have shown that parental stress affects children of all ages, it is harmful in that it can lead to emotional and behavioural problems as well as a number of health problems such as mental health issues and addictions. Stress experienced in childhood does not just go away as the child develops; it can affect a child’s whole makeup, and can be carried through to adulthood.
So often, as parents, we trundle on thinking we will get to the other side of whatever it is that is causing us stress, hurt or anguish, and yes, we do get there if we’re lucky but at what cost? Life is full of challenges, you know that, and your challenges are helpful to your children in that they teach them how to survive, they learn how to tackle the world, but if this is ongoing and causing more stress than you can deal with you need to act.
Parents often compensate for whatever is going on by spoiling children, throwing money at them to keep them happy, letting behaviour slip by not picking up on them in fear of making them unhappy. It’s never ending when this happens and it’s not necessarily making children happy, because their parents are not focused in the right place, they are not considering themselves within the family. When you acknowledge that your stress has gotten out of hand and seek help for it you are taking the right steps in helping your children.
There are a number of ways in which you can take charge and start taking care of yourselves from therapy to daily self-care, whichever you choose or can afford, although I’d like to think the benefits to you and your child’s future wellbeing will outweigh any financial outlay.
Taking time out to meditate, even if for just 10 minutes a day can go a long way towards reducing stress and anxiety. There are a number of guided meditations online that are designed to reduce stress and relax you, try a few and decide which one feels good for you. The first step is to take time out, sit quietly in silence and take a deep breath. Try a meditation class for a meditation that will keep you on task, it’s easy to give up when it doesn’t seem to be working after a few minutes. There are plenty of classes about and you don’t have to have any experience of meditation before.
Meditation helps in stressful situations by allowing you to put things into perspective, in the silence of meditation you can use the peace to calm the mind and still the stress. Practiced regularly, it will allow you to move away from daily stress, ‘get to the heart of the matter’ in terms of worries and the make longer term changes so crucial for your peace of mind.
Meditation is fantastic for children and is now being used in some schools in place of detention. When you have learnt to meditate yourself, you can teach your child the practice of meditation and meditate as a family.
Like meditation, mindfulness allows you the space to see things for what they are, and sort the real life demands from the unreal. When you train your mind through the practice of mindfulness, you become more aware of your thoughts and learn to step back from them and see them for what they are. Through practice you will lower stress hormones and increase your mental resources, being more able to find solutions.
Mindfulness meditation is like a gym for the mind, it keeps the mind fit and healthy which allows you to handle stressful life events. Daily practice allows you to switch your attitude to stress and face life head on, knowing you have developed the skills to deal with whatever life has to throw at you.
Mindfulness can be brought into the home easily, it’s fantastic for children as well as adults as it helps children in paying attention and calming themselves when needed. Mindfulness is said to help children with their emotional regulation.
#Relaxation of Body and Mind
Relaxation sessions are different from flaking out on the sofa in front of the box at the end of another stressful day. True relaxation will allow you to let go by helping you to calm and relax your whole body, bringing about a deep state of rest, a response that is completely opposite to the stress response.
You can practice relaxation at home, but it’s not just chilling out in a quiet room, it’s actively participating and using relaxation techniques that will produce the relaxation response in your body and mind.
Like meditation, relaxation starts with the breath, breathing deeply from the abdomen, long deep breaths. From there you move into a progressive muscle relaxation, often starting at the crown and moving down the body, through all the muscle groups. When your body relaxes, so will your mind and you will find peace.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the benefits of relaxation for children. Teaching them how to relax is an life skill that they can take with them, throughout their lives.
Get away from the stresses of life by using visualisation to go elsewhere. Use your imagination to transport you somewhere you feel calm, choose somewhere where you will find peace. Choose a place you’ve visited and been at peace in before or create a safe and peaceful place in your mind. Enter this place and feel it all around you, experience the feel of it, the colours and any sounds you might hear. Allow your imagination to create the scene, let your mind drift and body relax.
You can do this anywhere, at home, or in a session with a therapist experienced in guiding you into deep relaxation.
Children are usually able to visualise easily, play is creativity after all, they are used to creating wonderful worlds, go with them!
Hypnotherapy is known to be a powerful stress reduction tool and can certainly help you with stress. As hypnotherapist can help with relaxation and visualisation taking you to a place where you are deeply relaxed and able to create. On learning these skills, you will be able to use the techniques and incorporate them into your daily life.
Choose a trained professional to help you achieve your goals, you could consider doing a little research and trying self-hypnosis for yourself but I would advise visiting a professional in the first instance. A hypnotherapist will teach you techniques you can use between sessions, once experienced you can use these techniques for years to come.
Hypnotherapy helps you in achieving a healthy lifestyle by assisting you to make the changes that will reduce stress in your life. A good hypnotherapist can help you in identifying the root cause of your stress, once the cause is identified you can then consider a life without this stress and agree upon a treatment plan that helps you achieve your goals.
Whichever avenue you choose, whether it’s at home, in a group in a 1:1 session with a therapist, you owe it to yourself and those around you.
Take Care of You
L & T