A couple of weeks ago I shared a photo in our private Facebook group The Tough Mothers Village of me in a pink fluffy dressing gown, eating condensed milk out of a can. #HighlightOfMyLife
Unfortunately, some sh*t had hit the fan, that stressed me out. And this was part of my way to cope with it.
Sharing that photo made me realise that we are often in situations where the sh*t has hit the fan. None more serious than what is currently happening in the world with the novel coronavirus.
Stress is so debilitating. Which is why I wanted to share with you 5 simple exercises you can do NOW (at home!) to not only reduce stress immediately, but also prepare your brain to better deal with stress as it comes up.
This FREE series of strategies I put together for you not only shares these 5 ways to help train your brain, but also explains how they work.
Whether it is small sh*t, medium sh*t or massive sh*t, these same principles apply to reduce stress.
THIS SERIES IS TOTALLY FREE!
There is no opt-in. So, please forward it to anyone you think might benefit from it, especially during this crisis. This is not just for mums, so please share the love.
Supporting mums is what I live for. If you, or a mum you know, is feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, alone, isolated or scared during this unprecedented time, please contact me for complimentary support.
I won’t bore you with the back story. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll know that I was lucky enough to spend 10 glorious days in the Austrian alps with my family in January.
We had blue skies every day, wonderful snow and minimal people sharing the slopes with us.
It was divine!
What was not so divine was my snowboarding. While I started snowboarding about 25 years ago, I had big breaks in between. Once even for 7 years!!! (the things we sacrifice for our kids). And most recently I hadn’t been on a board for 18 months. Needless to say, I was rusty. Rrrrrrrrusty!
In the first couple of days there may even have been some tears. Which luckily were 100% ego-related and not due to injury.
So, after 2 days of unenjoyable snowboarding, my husband suggested I get a lesson.
WHAT!?!?! *my mouth agape in disgust* How dare he. It was ok for me to say I was rusty but for him…. Well, I never….!
And off my egoic mind went: I am old now. I know how to do this. I am not going to have some kid teacher tell me what to do. I will figure it out. I have been doing this for 25 years. How embarrassing to take a lesson at my age… blah blah blah, so on and so forth.
My ego was egoing in hyperdrive, but not solving anything. Needless to say, day 3 on the snow was sub-par too.
I took the kids down the mountain that afternoon to give Hubs some alone time to enjoy his snowboarding, which was (as usual!) very good.
This gave me about 2 hours of thinking time, and for me to have a serious chat with my ego.
What’s the worst that could happen if I take a lesson?
I could fall and make a fool of myself and/or be embarrassed.
That is all that I could come up with. YAWN!
What’s the best that could happen?
I might learn something new and improve, I could have fun, I could enjoy some time on the mountain on my own (read: without the kids), I could enjoy the rest of the days we have here because I wouldn’t be as rusty anymore… the list went on.
My ego stared at me puzzled. Even it couldn’t disagree that the pro list was a lot longer (and more convincing!) than the con list. So, I took a deep breath, grabbed the kids and marched into the snowboard school.
By the time Hubs came down I was booked in for a lesson the following morning.
My teacher was a kid. In fact, he could have honestly been my child. And all I could think about was the ONE big and suddenly very convincing item on my con list.
As soon as we took off I caught an edge and fell – I had made a fool of myself. In front of the kid. And I was embarrassed.
Ok so the worst had come true. What now?
I pushed myself up and uncertainly followed my teacher….
He turned out to be a great kid. An awesome snowboarder and great communicator. He watched me and gave me some tips which just clicked and honestly within about 30 minutes I was really enjoying myself. I gained so much confidence and by the end my teacher was high-fiving me like I was one of his mates.
I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when I caught up with Hubs and the kids afterwards (see video below for proof – it looks black but it is truly amazing. Ha ha ha!). I was literally beaming. And to think I was going to struggle through this amazing snow holiday, rather than ask for help.
Here is what happens when you receive beneficial* help: Pathways in your brain are changed!
These pathways consist of neurons that send signals to each other. As you receive help these signals get stronger and faster, which means your neural pathways are getting stronger and faster. You are learning something!
As you learn the new way (or in my case, the better way), these pathways get stronger and stronger. The pathways I had previously strengthened by doing my snowboarding style differently (laboriously!) were weakening because I was no longer using them.
When you use neural pathways over and over again they eventually become so strong that you don’t have to think about the specificities of the task anymore. Such a riding a bike, or driving a manual car. Or Snowboarding. Ha ha ha! I’m not quite there yet. But I am working on it 🙂
I always say:
The brain is like a muscle; use it or lose it!
The pathways you use get stronger; the ones you don’t use weaken. Simple!
You can use this to your advantage, and literally change your own brain by consciously choosing what actions, thoughts and behaviours you want to reinforce, and which ones you want to leave behind.
My Tough Mothers programs centre around this phenomenon of self-directed neuroplasticity (changing your own brain), so to once again experience it myself, but this time on the snow, is just absolutely awesome for me.
All I had to do was ask for a little help to guide me in the right direction.
Ask yourself, in what area of your life can you ask for beneficial* help to kick-start the strengthening of new or dormant neural pathways?
After I had my third baby life became too much. I had to take time to fill my own cup. I’m so glad I did because life became better than I ever could have imagined.
This year I took some time out to finish my psychotherapy studies and work on me.
Sorry I have been MIA but I am back and I have some amazing things to share with you including how I turned my fear and suffering into joy and a beautiful life.
So watch this space ?
Shout out to Lauren @mumswhowine_au who created this amazing T-shirt and from its sales raised over $12K for perinatal anxiety and depression Australia (PANDA) in 30 days. So happy to spread your important message across the ditch ?