18 Ways To Build Your Resilience – and make mum life feel more manageable
Don’t Confuse Resilience With Being Stoic. Or soldiering on. Or bouncing back.
Resilience isn’t about pushing away the hard times or trying to dodge them. There’s no stiff upper lip with resilience.
Stay Open. Stay open to the different experiences and emotions that life brings your way. Be able to sit with them all. Know that it’s ok to feel whatever you’re feeling, even if it’s raw and complicated. Doing this will bring you emotional flexibility and acceptance. And with that comes freedom. Freedom from believing that our emotions dictate what we do and freedom to choose how we want to feel going forward.
Be Vulnerable. Be brave enough to open yourself up to the risk of pain.Because without that, we’re never really letting ourselves feel the joy. We’re always holding back, protecting ourselves just that little bit.When you shut down to protect yourself from pain, you also shut out the joy.
Get It Out. Do what you need to do to acknowledge what you’re experiencing – cry, rage, vent to a friend, write it down, just get it out. And then make peace with it. Resilience is knowing that life is going on around you, in all its beauty, chaos, horror and wonder and that you are finding your own way through. It’s having the wisdom to know that from all of your experiences, the joyful and the painful, the exquisite and the heartbreaking, will come something unique. It will mark you but it will also create you. This is resilience.
Be Kind To Yourself. So often us mums really aren’t very kind to ourselves. Or each other for that matter. Be Kind. Look after yourself and each other. It takes a village? Well, let’s be a village then. Being resilient requires compassion: shone out into the world and turned in on ourselves in our darker moments.
Nobody ever said that we must enjoy every second of being a mum. It’s just that somewhere along the way somebody thought they did and we’ve been confused about this ever since.
Understand that emotions are just states that we’re in. States that fluctuate and change. Emotions are our internal responses to the world around us and to what’s going on in our heads. Sometimes our emotions are spot on. Very often they are ludicrously far off the mark. Acknowledge them. Give them a nod. And then get on with whatever you were doing before the emotion showed up.
Accept your experiences for what they are and don’t try to label or fight them. Just be with them and know that they will alter and shift and morph into something new and you will still be there, riding this wave of life.
Lean in to the joy. That’s it, just lean in and let it soak into you.
Lean back in life when you need to. Know that it’s ok to stop. Know that it’s ok to not be continuously pushing forward.
Learn how to look after yourself and listen to what you need to take care of yourself. If you can’t have what you need right now, make a promise to yourself that you’ll pick it up again just as soon as you can.
Let yourself be present in the moments of your life, really present.
Practice gratitude. Gratitude is how to counteract challenges and pain. Gratitude grounds you and gives you perspective.
Know that wherever you are in your journey of motherhood, you are moving. You are changing. And there are many wonderful things up ahead, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
Reach out your hand for support. Whether that’s to someone further along the mum road than you who can offer you words of wisdom; asking for professional support when you need some help changing things; or simply someone to sit with you and hold that hand.
Enjoy some moments, and don’t enjoy others. You don’t have to love every minute with your kids. Remind yourself of the goofy, quirky, sweet things about them that you love. And know that’s it ok to have the moments when you wish you were somewhere else.
Keep your emotional reserves topped up. Because your kids are sure as hell going to deplete them. Bring in small things that you can do on a regular basis that keep you feeling good, feeling like yourself and help you to process the stress of life in order to be able to tackle each new day and each new situation.
Hang on in there, mama. You’re doing the best you can.
Clare Flaxen is a cognitive behavioural therapist, a mum, and founder of Resilient Mums. She helps women manage the day to day emotional wear and tear of being a mother.