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Throughout the election season, I was careful to shield myself (and my family) from sensationalized, mainstream media and heated discussions.  Instead, we tried to gleam information from various sources and sides, so that we could make up our own minds.  At home, we talked as a family about the issues, the candidates, the rumors, and the truths. My goal was for my kids to be knowledgeable and informed, to form opinions as they saw fit, but never to feel fear or panic.

Despite my best intentions, there were times when I felt the emotional overload that comes from too much stress.  I know I’m not alone.  I also heard many discussing how distressed their children were.  So if you or your family are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, sad, mad, or any kind of negativity, I find the best thing to do is to get distance from the cause of your troubles.  Some ideas?

Shut Off Electronics

Put down the smartphone, laptop, tablet, and remote.  Disconnect from social media, news media, and anywhere else you’ll get exposure to current events.  Even as you’re feeling better, be mindful to limit exposure so as not to reintroduce the upsetting issues to your psyche.

Get Outside

Whenever a mental reset is needed, surround yourself with nature.  Take a walk, go to a favorite spot, or gaze out at a body of water.  Stare at natural beauty and ponder the bigger picture.  I’ve gone on meditation hikes led by a local Rabbi, and allowing ourselves to consider the universe and how we’re little more than a blip in history can help alleviate feelings of immediate stress.

Retreat

Sometimes, being alone can help.  Sleep, read, watch tv, laugh, cry, and do whatever you feel you need to help process how you’re feeling.  It can be hard to move on from your feelings until you’ve allowed yourself to flesh them out and come to peace with whatever is on your mind.

Connect

When you’re done being alone, spend time with friends and family.  Steer clear of politics, but share in something you enjoy, whether it be a meal, physical activity, or downtime. Recharging through a social connection is a powerful coping mechanism.  For those who are religious, spending time with fellow congregants or at a place of worship can be healing.

Keep Entertained

At times of true emotional burnout, I find that only a distraction will keep anxiety at bay.  This election season has elicited higher levels of fear, anxiety, and emotionally-charged battles than I can recall seeing in a long time.  I’ve learned that sometimes the only technique I can use to keep calm is to immerse myself in a pleasurable distraction.  I turn to a favorite tv show or movie, something I can easily follow without too much thought.  It’s therapeutic to allow oneself to be entertained and get a break from heavy thoughts.  Other times, music works wonders, and can be calming or uplifting.

Accept Help

When all else fails, reach out for help.  If you feel yourself suffering without relief, or those around you are expressing concern, don’t be ashamed to talk to a mental health professional.  You might wonder, “What can a counselor do that I can’t do for myself?” but a therapist trained in resolving grief and anxiety can get you back on a healthier path.

It can be difficult to pull oneself out of a dark place, and recent events have certainly offered plenty of crevices within which to get stuck.  As parents, we can’t let ourselves fall too deeply into those depths, as we need to be there for our loved ones.  We try to model healthy coping, respect, love, and kindness.  We want to show our kids how to persevere and take care of themselves even when it feels impossible to do so.  During this emotionally charged time, I wish everyone the strength to keep going.  Ask for help when needed, and surround yourself with people, places, and things that encourage feelings of happiness, hopefulness, and determination.  Feel free to share your experiences and ideas with our readers, below.

It can be really hard as a caregiver to untangle your needs from those of your family. Last week it was really on my heart to speak to all the moms out there who give everything for their family so I wrote an open letter to the self-sacrificing moms out there. Here’s the rest of the letter.

My Needs Are Supposed To Come Last, Right?

I can get really mad if I dwell on it, but if I’m honest, REALLY HONEST with myself I know that the person I’m really angry with is me. I’ve fed myself this bull that what I want will come eventually, when we have more money, when the kids are older, and when it’s finally “MY TURN.” It’s a lie and I know it. It’s not anyone else who puts my needs last; it’s me. I don’t feel worthy. There is a nagging voice that tugs at me whenever I dare to think about wanting something for myself and I listen. I give in.

My husband will just say, well why don’t you just go get whatever it is that you want. I tell him that he doesn’t understand how our finances work. I get his requests to purchase this item or that for himself and unless it’s something totally unreasonable I usually say yes. Why is that? I weigh my kids’ requests and I make informed decisions about if and when they should get something. Yet with myself the answer is always “NO” and I’m the one saying it.

Being a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) really has changed the way I view my worthiness in the grand scheme of things, but most of it is just motherhood that has slowly eroded the me that existed before children. Sometimes I don’t remember who that girl is.

The Quest To Untangle “ME” From “MOMMY”

Now for the truth I’ve been avoiding – I better remember and do it quick because that’s the person my husband fell in love with, and that’s the woman I want to show my kids as an example. If they were to take me as I am now and model it, they would say a mom doesn’t care all that much about herself. Now that I’m about to have my second daughter, I NEVER want my girls thinking that.

I’ve recently started going on “girls’ night” outings with other mom friends of mine. It’s only once a month, but it’s a baby step. It’s a night where I can go have conversations with other women like me who maybe need a reminder too that they are more than someone’s wife and mother. My husband supports me, even if the kids do refuse to go to bed on his watch. It’s worth it for those few hours of remembering the funny, smart, capable person I really am, not just the self-sacrificing mom the world sees.

So self-sacrificing mom, I get you. I am you. It’s my hope that one day you’ll throw caution to the wind and do what you want to do. Take a class, write a book, maybe visit someplace new. If we don’t start serving ourselves first once in awhile, those girls we used to be will forever be lost to the world and that would be an awful shame.

 

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!sharron

Sharron Phillips is a champion of self care for women! She will offer ways to learn or remember how to take care of yourself and as a result enjoy your parenting, gain perspective, and become a valuable role model for your family and community.

Here’s a tip for taking really great care of yourself as a Mom. Make time each week to get out of your house, in all seasons, without your children in tow. Create a space in your parenting time so that you can remember and appreciate who you are as a woman. What will that look like for you?  Playing Mahjong with a group of friends? A date night with your spouse or partner? A manicure/pedicure? A walk down the street while the kids are in school? A bubblebath? Solo grocery shopping? Lunch with a friend? A Pampered Chef party? A game of golf, tennis, ping pong with a friend? Quiet time at a library or museum? At the very least, step outside your house onto the porch and breathe in the fresh air and appreciate the phenomenal, magnificent goddess you are!A change of scenery and routine will boost your spirits, perspective and energy level. I also invite you to soak in the experience by thanking yourself for putting YOU at the top of the list for a moment.

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