How to shake off anger, depression, anxiety, or resentment, and get back to enjoying your family
We all get taken by a sour mood from time to time. It’s part of being human (and a big part of being a parent!). Here are 5 tips for shaking off anger, depression, anxiety, or resentment, and getting back to enjoying your family.
1. Take Care of Yourself (nobody else is going to do it)
Adjusting to life with kids is like learning to swim after the tsunami. Self-care is usually the first thing to go as we scramble to meet the needs of a newborn, or life wth multiple kids.
However, if your tank is empty, you are far less likely to find joy and connection, and far more likely to experience resentment, isolation, and anger.
It can feel selfish to take some 'me time', but it’s the kind of selfish that everyone in your family needs more of (even if they don’t thank you for it at the time).
'Me time' looks different for everyone. Some people need to spend time with friends and offload. Others need quiet time to rest. Many people feel recharged after a bit of time at the beach, or in the bush. Whatever it is, schedule it in, and head back home with a smile.
2. Acknowledge the thoughts and feelings
We are trained from a young age to avoid uncomfortable feelings, and most of us are pretty good at it... until we become parents.
Parents of young kids are too busy, too tired, and too responsible to do the things that worked before, whether it was escaping for a weekend with girls, having a big night out, or gaming for 14hours straight.
Without the usual distractions, the feelings can become overwhelming and distressing. So what do you do? According to acceptance and commitment therapy, you stop trying to make it go away, and start paying attention to the thoughts and feelings.
The key is not to get caught up in the thoughts, but simply ‘notice’ them.
Try to take a mental step back and say “ah... when I feel like this, I start thinking that, and when I think that, I start feeling more of this... how interesting”
Whatever is lurking in the subconscious is struggling to be heard, and the simple act of acknowledging the thoughts and feelings can help a lot.
3. Be more like your kids
Kids aren’t very good at regulating emotions, but they are incredible at letting go of a bad feeling and moving on. From watching my kids, I’ve learned that saying your piece is much more important than being right. They scream, cry, have a tantrum, or all of the above, and the next minute they are smiling like puppies.
As adults, we often get stuck in the content of the thing causing the frustration, and find it hard to move on without a rational resolution. How about next time you’re feeling frustrated, be a bit more like a kid. Say your piece, accept that you’re probably at least partly wrong, then get on with your day.
4. Share it with someone
Talking to others about whats going on inside helps impossible things feel less impossible. The key is to find a good listener... someone who isn’t going to respond with a whole lot of answers, or “it’s not so bads”. Someone who can genuinely listen, and maybe identify a bit with whats going on, without bombarding you with solutions.
You might be lucky enough to have a partner who can listen, or a close friend. Otherwise, there are some great counselling services around which are there to do just that. Some are free, and some are available 24hours a day by telephone.
5. Practice gratitude
Being grateful is not an all the time thing, and for a lot of people it’s not even a sometimes thing, but if you can feel gratitude for the things you all ready have, then it’s easier to experience moments of joy and happiness with your whānau.
I think it’s natural to strive for more. Let's face it, overwhelming persistent gratitude was probably not high on the list of adaptive traits for our cave dwelling forbearers. However, gratitude is like a muscle, and the more you flex it, the stronger and more available it is.
Check out this article by mindful, for some gratitude practices your family will be grateful for.
If you have your own tips for shaking off a sour mood and getting back to enjoying your family, we'd love to hear about it in the comments below.
Mellenium Consulting (2020). Acceptance and commitment therapy. Retrieved from https://millenniumconsulting.co.nz/acceptance-and-commitment-therapy/
Mindful (n.d.). How to practice gratitude. Retrieved from https://www.mindful.org/an-introduction-to-mindful-gratitude/
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