In the middle of our new world of “nothing is certain” drops the ancestral stressor called Back-to-School—seriously? There are so many Back to School options: 1. wear a mask, don’t wear a mask? 2. In person school or home school? 3. Send a gallon of sanitizer or wear a hazmat suit? Ok that last one was just thrown in to see if you were paying attention. It’s all so confusing, kinda’ like the act of parenting.
Parenting is always steeped in anxiety about the unknown. It’s building the plane while you’re flying it, with the possibility of crashing into a mountain while you’re reading the manual. It’s always been this way, but no one tells you that when you’re trying to get pregnant, with visions of adoring children who are neatly dressed and never talk back. That’s how they propagate the species, with parental fiction. The reality of parenting is messy and exhausting, with occasional moments of such crystalline beauty that it takes your breath away. The difference between these two states is your perspective.
It’s never the circumstances that cause stress, it’s your reaction to the circumstances.
We have little to no control over the circumstances, but we have total control over our reactions. If we freak out, our kids freak out and things get much worse. If we stay calm, our kids will stay calm. When calm, we can problem solve with a clear head. How do you stay calm? It’s as easy as 3 DEEP BREATHS.
If your daughter plays volleyball for 850 Elite, she already knows about the 3 Deep Breath method. I preach it consistently as a way to calm the nerves before serving or to recover after missing a serve, pass or hit. But it works in every anxious situation.
When we are stressed, our body senses a threat and goes into Fight, Fight or Freeze mode. Cortisol and adrenaline levels skyrocket in our bloodstream, raising our heart rate and reducing our ability to focus. You can reverse this trend with 3 Deep Breaths. Stopping to focus on filling your belly with breath and slowly exhaling while closing your eyes, three times in a row, can return you to sanity. For bonus points, say “Inhale strength-Exhale doubt” to yourself or out loud.
I’m such a fan that I set an alarm on my phone thrice daily that says, “Take 3 breaths”. This keeps my habitual anxiety at bay. Try it right now. Better yet, try it with your kids and let me know the results at firstname.lastname@example.org !