Let’s face it. We’ve all experienced those brutal days when it takes every. single. ounce. of energy flowing through our bodies to make it to bedtime. We put the kids in bed and it’s then when we can punch out on the figurative time clock. Whether you work inside or outside of the home, we all know what it feels like in those daunting moments when you long to punch out early and run far, far away – and fast.
You’re crumbling with what feels like your child’s 100th meltdown of the day – and it’s only 10 AM. Or you’re dragging into the evening with moody and tired children after working an intense day at the office.
Regardless of what circumstances are pulling you under, you want to grab hold of some inner peace to help you stay afloat through the waves of insanity.
So, how can we stay afloat? Here are 4 practices that can be used on a daily basis but especially when you’re hanging on for dear life until punch out time. Try the “set it in motion” tip that I’ve included with each practice to help get you started. These are practices, so engage in them often and they will start to feel more natural after while.
1. Just Breathe.
By taking a moment to pause and focus on your breath, you suspend your thoughts about what’s coming next. Dread over your toddler’s tantrum and your inner critique of how well you’re handling the tantrum are interrupted when you pause to breathe. By letting the in and out of your breath enter your awareness, you can allow your experience to be just as it is.
Set it in motion: “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I am peace.”
2. Acceptance of What Is (And What’s Not).
It’s pretty easy to accept our experiences when we’re happy and life is going as planned. But what happens when circumstances do not line up according to plan? Typically, we try to reject and change what’s wrong.
Your child isn’t getting the hang of potty training as fast as you’d like, or nursing isn’t going like you imagined it would, and you’re agonizing over what’s going wrong. You also get caught up in the should thinking.
With acceptance we recognize that things are the way they are without trying to judge, control, or resist what’s happening.
Notice that acceptance doesn’t mean approval. So, I don’t suggest that you figure out how to leap for joy about stress. The next time you find yourself smack dab in the middle of disorder (an argument with your partner/spouse, difficult financial circumstances, or misbehavior from your kids), don’t focus on what shouldn’t be happening but rather accept the experience exactly as it is. See if you find yourself softening a bit towards what’s happening.
Set it in motion: “I accept myself and what’s happening in this moment.”
3. Be Kind.
When we fixate on what’s wrong with our experience or ourselves, the tendency is to beat up on ourselves. We focus on the things we’re not doing perfectly and we harshly judge our actions. As you go about your day handling tantrums, sick kids, potty training adventures, and the mistakes you make at home and work, take notice of the self-criticism. By offering ourselves kindness, we bring a gentle space to hold our experience and ourselves – flaws and all.
Set it in motion: “May I be kind to myself through this storm. I will offer myself gentle loving care.”
“Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss joy is to miss all.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
4. Turn Towards the Light.
Our minds are trained to focus on what’s wrong and naturally we go about the business of fixing it. Often, when we’re caught up in this cycle we lose sight of the joy. It’s as though the fixating, like big storm clouds, blocks the light from coming in.
Help the light to shine through by turning towards it. Make a point to seek out the joy and the gratitude.
You’re drained from the day’s events and all you long for is a nap, and your five-year-old demands “look at this Mommy!” You look up and she shows you an impressive drawing of her handprint turkey walking underneath a rainbow. You see her eyes twinkling with pride over her work. And you pause to smile because you see the light. Maybe in that moment you realize too that soon enough the difficult, overwhelming days will be over. Possibly even missed at some point down the road.
Set it in motion: Look for the light by acknowledging the joy that happens in the ordinary moments throughout your day, such as your child’s laugh, smile, or innocent curiosity, the sound of your children’s feet on the bare floor, and the sun on your face.
These practices can help lead you in the direction of receiving more joy into your daily life. And while they may not completely quiet the I-just-want-to-run-far-far-away voices, they may help you get one step closer to punching out on the time clock with your sanity intact.
If you’re struggling to find joy in your life, know that you don’t have to walk the journey alone. Contact me for a private consultation.
Image credits: Gavin Terpstra and Carolina Farion via stock.xchng