I like setting goals and having big ambitious dreams.
It’s neither wrong nor right. It’s just who I am.
I always thought that it's better to have goals and dreams and thrive to achieve whatever you want to achieve. Than to have no aspirations whatsoever.
But it’s not cool when you forget to enjoy your life while running after your dreams. It's all about the happy medium, isn't it?
A few months ago, my daughter was playing with my phone. She accidentally video-recorded me writing something on my iPad.
I didn’t like what I saw.
I looked so tense. All the yet-to-come wrinkles were present and more than visible. I looked old. I looked scary.
If that’s what I look when I am chasing my dreams, well, not sure those dreams are worth it.
I reevaluated my goals. I didn’t want to be that drab looking mom.
Because that’s what my children saw when they looked at me. I didn't want them to remember me by my clenched jaws and intense stare. I wanted them to grow up feeling light and liberated, at least in the confounds of their house knowing that they can go after amazing dreams of their own.
Then a thought flashed through: what do I see when I look at them? When trying to remember it the feelings and words that popped up were: joy, fun, bewilderment, curiosity, lightness.
I started watching them a bit more intentionally. How do they do what they do? How do they avoid looking tense? What feelings or emotions can I read on their faces and their body language?
So, I started writing my observations down:
While building the tallest tower, my preschooler looked determined but relaxed.
When working on a puzzle, she looked curious.
She rarely stayed still.
When creating play-doh figurines, she moved their heads from side to side.
When counting, she shook her limbs.
When drawing, she'd stick her tongues out. Bizarre little creature.
She frowned from time to time, but it was so fleeting. One second it’s there, and another it’s gone.
Seriously, the array of movement and emotions on that tiny face… if I was counting, it would go over a million of micro gestures.
I realised that kids did not look tense because they experienced all sorts of varied emotions from the well known feeling wheel within seconds or at the same time. One feeling replacing the previous one like passing trains.
So I decided to borrow this ability to experience it all without judgement: the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are 5 self-care tips borrowed from my kids.
When I type something on my computer, I’ve introduced a new habit. I move my neck from time to time. I stretch my arms and I stand up every 10 minutes. I also shake my body like a wet dog. Yes, you are welcome, that image is yours to keep.
I have created a sticky note that hangs in front of my eyes that says: relax your jaws.
And you know what? I clench my jaws more often that I think. I feel so much better once I unclench them.
I also introduced an exercise that the midwife recommended for when contractions were getting stronger. This exercise helps facial muscles to relax. It’s a gym or yoga workout for my face.
Horse-lips breath: if you feel yourself clenching your jaw as you breath, this technique is a good one to get your mouth and face to relax. Start by opening your mouth, so that your upper and lower jaw separate, and then close your lips, without closing your jaw. Inhale through your nose and exhale forcefully through your mouth with loosened lips, so that your lips vibrate together, creating a noise like a horse. Repeat as many times as you need to. - Abby Olena, The Pulse
When I am stressed out because I cannot find a solution for something, I would just sit there for some time and smile. As genuinely as I can. Looking like a lunatic, yep.
Smiling releases my feel good hormones and as if by magic I find a solution. It's pure science.
British researchers found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate. - UWA.edu
When I am stuck with something, I copy my kids and use whatever I have around me - on my table, in my room and come up with an alternative use for that object.
Once, I used a few pens and a stationary box as a pretend drum kit.
I sat there, a woman in her 40th, a mother of 2 , drumming my imaginary drum.
At first I felt angry. Why can't I find a solution? I nearly broke my pen. But as I continued my anger was replaced by curiosity. It's good fun, I thought.
Then I stood up and made myself a cup of tea. And when I returned to my desk the problem did not look as unresolvable as before my impromptu drumming session.
Kids love stories.
Nowadays I will stop after a few hours of work to read myself a nice feel-good story. Or a poem. Anything that would take me away from the real life. And throw me into the world of fuzzy feeling childhood. Where anything and everything is possible.
Final thoughts on 5 self-care tips borrowed from my kids
Such simple things. Yet we forget about it while chasing our dreams. We should spend less time stressing about things and more time learning from our free-spirited offsprings.
I've learnt a lot from my children.
It's ok to feel negative and positive emotions. And it's ok to feel them almost at the same time. Keeping dress in is what makes us tense. Let it go.
Dwelling on negativity and trending my body does not help anyone. It does not help solve problems or find solutions.
Being silly is liberating and fun. It also helps to generate new ideas.
Stopping and switching tasks is not as bad as I thought. If anything it helps my creativity. Maybe multitasking is not as evil as it's painted.
Physical movement, even a minuscule one, brings so many benefits. It's a form of an exercise so it feeds our oxygen deprived brain. But it's fun as well.
I highly recommend this experiment to everyone.