How do I deal with stress?

I learned to practice on myself something I already knew.

Tuning in.

As a Mom I’m trained in tuning in to the needs of my family. From knowing what foods they’re eating or not eating to noticing and looking for the signs when they need a hug, a place to run or time with friends.

I have an acute tuning system into understanding when they’re hungry after the intense training of having a newborn (twice) who needed to eat every two hours, and then, once in a while on no apparent schedule, they’d cluster feed for forever. My tuning adapts and changes as they change. I expect it now. Currently, with a nine and a five year old I’ve begun to look forward to what might happen next. How are they going to show up today?

These past few years I’ve turned that tuning system on to myself. I’ve watched and listened to what I do, what I want and what I need. I’ve noticed times when I’m hard on myself, stressed or burned out and what makes it better. For me, I take a walk, even just twenty minutes, it resets my brain and reconnects me to my body. I love to garden, helping something grow, weeding and minding my plants creates a lovely sense of purpose in me. Baking a new recipe or returning to an old favourite is like being in a flow state, practicing my effortless excellence. A friend of mine says she runs because it makes her a nicer person at home.

I’ve seen what happens when I put my needs last and the culmination of stressors that leads to burnout time and time again. I’ve taught myself how to listen to myself without judgement. I’ve painstakingly learned how to listen to others.

When I tune in I accept that I’m human, have limitations, needs and wants just like everyone else I tune into. With practice, practice and more practice I’ve gotten good and noticed and meeting my needs and wants.

I’ve always believed that parenting is modelling the behaviour that you want to see in your children, but I haven’t always lived that value. Actually modelling it is the hardest work I’ve ever done.

It’s worth it to me to keep practicing because it’s something I value highly. When I fall down and screw up, yell, act thoughtlessly or am triggered into an old pattern, I notice it, stop and begin. Again. And again. And again. It’s like in meditation, when your thoughts run fast, you stop, return to your breathe and begin again. With practice, you get quicker at returning to the new pattern.

With time and consistent change you get to be different.