November 5, 2011
(One week after the storm)
We were finally able to escape to warm weather after surviving a huge snow storm in New Jersey and being without power for days. Thankfully, Continental now has Direct TV which made traveling with a 3 year old much more tolerable. If only the rental car companies would install your car seat for you I would have no complaints about the day. Looking back on the last 8 days I feel as though my patience has been tested more than any other time in my life. We lost power the morning after the storm so my daughter and I went to stay with family friends. There weren’t enough beds for my husband who stayed with a different friend each night or my poor poodle Zoe, who had to get boarded. Since I have a private practice and only work 2 days a week, when Terra Sky was without power I also had to cancel all of my clients as I couldn’t imagine them feeling comfortable having a therapy session in the cold and dark.
During this time I could literally feel the stress in my mind and body. My muscles were tense, my head hurt from worry, and I noticed I was much more cranky than usual. Fortunately I was mindful enough to recognize that I was not myself and if I didn’t take care of myself I was quickly going to get out of balance. Although there were feelings of guilt that surged in me I knew that if I didn’t focus on my self-care that it was only a matter of time before I began to lash out at those closest to me. I did not want to lose my temper with my daughter then have feelings of regret about it later (although I may have snapped at my husband just a little bit...sorry Pete).
Can you think of a time when you felt like this? Maybe you didn’t feel in control of your actions or emotions? If you are a parent I would put money that you have. Life stress is inevitable, but is their a solution?
Here are a few things that I recommend:
- Tune into your feelings regularly. Take 3 minutes in the morning or right before bed to gauge what you are currently feeling. Don’t analyze or judge what comes to mind just note the emotion with a kindly, gentle awareness. If you do this often it will give you a baseline and help you to recognize when you are experiencing stress or negative mood states. It will allow you to be proactive rather than reactive.
- Schedule time everyday or, at a minimum, weekly to take care of yourself. Get a pedicure, go out with friends, or read a good book for an hour. Do something that fills up your energy bank. Feel guilty for it but do it anyway!
- Get a good night’s sleep or try to fit in a power nap. Our moods are much more extreme when we are sleep deprived. If you find that you are having trouble falling asleep or are waking up with thoughts on your mind please consider getting help from a specialist as sleep issues are a symptom of many mood disorders.
- Ask for support from friends and family. Be honest about your feelings and let them know what they can do to support you. It may also feel good to help someone else in need, especially during stressful times.
- Eat a balanced diet, one that keeps your blood sugar stable and get some form of exercise every day. Park at the back of the lot or take the stairs-just move your body.
If you find after taking care of yourself, getting good sleep, eating right and exercising that you are still feeling angry and frustrated don’t be afraid to get professional help. You can find therapist in your area at www.PsychologyToday.com.
(Four weeks post storm)
I am happy to report that my feelings of balance in life have returned and I am no longer feeling as though I could scream at any minute. I have noticed that in response to my shift in mood that the people I come in contact with, especially my daughter, who seems much more at peace as well. Ah, it’s so nice to enjoy the moment while I wait for the next storm.
Jennifer Bronsnick is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Holistic Health Coach. She has her Master’s Degree from New York University School of Social Work and Health Coach Certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Jennifer has a private practice in Terra Sky Center for Wellness in Summit, where she specializes in helping teenagers and women struggling with anxiety, depression, and general stress & health issues.
She is the founder of Mindful Mommy, a website where mothers can get support from professionals and connect with one another. The mission of Mindful Mommy is to support mothers across the globe to lead happy, healthy, and fun-filled lives by offering a space for self-exploration, education, and meaningful connections with other mom's.
Jennifer is the mother of a 2.5 year old little girl and is currently expecting her second child in January 2012.