We’re forced to adapt. Our kids develop new routines, needs, rapport, schedules and activities. We’re dealing with new bodies, sleep schedules, org structures, hormones, rules with our spouses…new everything. Often. Ridiculously so.
If you’re blessed with healthy children, their developmental changes are expected and (mostly) joyful. Our own career, physical and environmental changes, maybe not so much. On difficult days, it’s hard to know where the anchor is.
The ‘anchor’ can quickly become ‘the work.’ For a while. It’s easier to pick up toys at the end of the night, or email, than self-reflection or a new pursuit. It can be soothingly productive to enter a messy kitchen and emerge from a spotless one. It’s hard to ask the big unsettling questions when we’re constantly occupied. Unless we stop and make space.
Resilience to Counter Stress
Mom’s Hierarchy of Needs survey results have been aligned with national studies. Moms, coupled or not, are overwhelmingly responsible for the mental load and to-do’s for all-things-childcare-and-household. For many, doing so while working as co, primary or sole breadwinners. Added to the mix, there’s little downtime…and when there is, whatever habits we honed to unwind pre-kids, rarely make sense in Mom-land. The American Psychological Association reports in its annual stress survey, the gender gap “women consistently reporting higher levels of stress” remains. Women are also 2:1 times more likely to suffer from many common anxiety and stress disorders. Studies, about how caregivers (for children or adults) report higher levels of stress and less sleep, abound. Stress, whatever the level, is exacerbated when faced with family health, money or career concerns.
Resilience, the ability to recover from difficulties, is all the rage. Yet progress towards meaningful macro solutions for mothers and families remains slow. Can Moms harness our change mastery, learn to slay stress and break through to well-being?
Reimagine Self-Care to Build New Capacity
There are as many ways to recharge as to find bliss. The magic, however, is in the maintenance. And yes…making time for it. The ability to recover, from injury or disappointment, is key to staying well. A holistic view of self-care prioritizes physical and emotional strength. After interviewing 3 amazing Moms about how they became physically stronger and more flexible, this part two, focuses on emotional resilience.
When I asked Dr. Stephanie Corrado, a neighbor and primary care physician, to talk about resilience through the Mom-lens she said, “Many people are reluctant to try mindfulness or other forms of meditation… but it’s huge for resiliency in every aspect of life. Work, family…even getting coffee!” She pointed to the counter, where we had to wait patiently for our beverages, and I laughed. After many years in traditional practice, she spent 3 years on staff at the Benson Henry Institute, globally renown for advances in mind body medical research. She’s integrated this training with patient care. “I learned a lot about the power of mindfulness to support healthier outcomes.” She said.
The mind-body connection is well-documented and Stephanie explained how mindfulness helps us move away from the hardwired ‘fight or flight response’ to stress. “(It creates) a pause before your reaction. You never want to be reactionary with your relationships!” So wise and difficult to remember in the moment. There are countless studies on it’s positive effects for psychological and physical health and she described the dramatic benefits. “It lowers blood pressure, inflammatory conditions and your risk of disease. (Mindfulness) is tapping into what religion has given people for thousands of years.”
When I met with Andrea Evans, a former colleague and part-time yoga teacher, she shared the role yoga and meditation has played on her path to greater resilience. “Now, I acknowledge things are always changing and ignoring that just creates pain and suffering.” Sigh. Yes! She shared the many positive effects including her ability to choose a different response. “…My daughter came downstairs one morning when I was centered and ready for meditation. I’ll admit, although my instinct was to say ‘go back to bed,’ I had the space to pause and respond differently.” She said her daughter came over to quietly sit in her lap and they enjoyed a beautiful moment together.
Empowered And Clear!
Regina, an award-winning body builder and personal trainer, said “Moms waste time with the indecision of squeezing in… fitness or taking time away from family to be healthy… always putting something else first. Schedule a time for you. Just do it and don’t let it rent space in your head!” She admits at first, weight lifting was about body change. “Now it’s about… feeling healthy, physically and mentally.” Regina works with a lot of Moms as a trainer and described the transformation she’s seen over and over again. “When women gain strength, it’s empowering! They advocate for themselves more… ‘I am not a weakling. My back doesn’t hurt anymore. Or, I’m sleeping at night and my blood pressure is down.’ If you’re strong, mentally and physically you can take yourself anywhere.”
Yes… You’ve Got This!
Self-care, including mindfulness or exercise, although not a complete solution to better resilience, is certainly part of the recipe. With space and strength, we can view the worries or disappointments with perspective. Although it may feel indulgent, making time to feel grounded within the mighty-change-vortex, boosts mood and endurance. Which is required for navigating life’s journey, especially in Mom-land, where strength and patience, are tested daily.
Did you miss part one about physical strength and resilience?
Many thanks to Stephanie, Andrea and Regina, the talented super-Moms who were generous with their time and expertise!
Dr. Stephanie Corrado, M.D.
Stephanie is a skilled and experienced internist serving the community of Boston, MA. Dr. Corrado obtained her medical degree from Rush University. She also completed her residency in internal medicine, psychiatry, and an internship in internal medicine at the Northwestern University. Furthermore, she completed a fellowship in adolescent medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, and obtained her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Corrado is a part of SMG Brookline Primary Care. She is board certified in internal medicine and adolescent medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Corrado gives each patient her focused attention, and she prides herself on delivering the best treatment available.
Andrea has been practicing yoga since 1998, first drawn to the mat as a new way to move the body. Ironically, it was love at first savasana (resting pose). To manifest Work Life Balance, Andrea brings yoga and meditation to C Space and other Boston Omnicom agencies in the Atlantic Wharf Building on Congress Street. She is honored to be on the regular schedule at her home studio, Tranquil Souls Yoga. To learn more about Andrea and her upcoming workshops and retreats, visit her Website Work Life Balance Yoga.
Regina is certified by the AFAA, ASFA, and the NCCPT. The belief that fitness should be accessible to everyone is at the core of Regina’s training method. She understands that while one person may be training for a triathlon, another might be struggling to get through a 20-minute mile. She helps her students become comfortable with how their bodies move through strength exercises with a supportive presence and corrective tips. By encouraging clients to progress slowly she affords them the time they need to establish a lasting confidence in their bodies and abilities. Regina hones and sculpts her body to compete in national fitness competitions. To learn more about Regina, if you’re in the Brookline/Boston area check out her classes or trainings at Benefitness, my favorite gym.