To eliminate stress, you have to do things differently

It’s a given, isn’t it? Although, if I had called this blog post ‘How to nourish your soul with creativity, fun and connection!’ you probably wouldn’t have clicked on it. Ironically, you may have thought you were too busy for that! My response:  ‘Are you addicted to busyness?’

When I talk about eliminating stress for children, parents are motivated to click like a possessed shopaholic bagging an ebay bargain. Is that because you know that high cortisol levels (stress hormone):

  • can affect your child’s brain negatively
  • decreases your child’s emotional well-being (and can cause illness in later life)
  • impacts on your child’s ability to learn and problem solve
  • result in behavioural issues and maladaptive coping mechanisms
  • can lead to anxiety, depression and addiction

Mums naturally put their children first, but if you’re not taking care of your stress levels, you can’t role model coping strategies to your child. 

To eliminate stress, you HAVE to make time + re-prioritise

You do see that don’t you? You’re not just running around with your @rse on fire saying ‘I’m busy I’m stressed!’ and not doing anything about it, are you? Just checking because if you were too busy to stop and think about how there is more than one way to live this life (you don’t have to be permanently stressed or miserable or struggling). Some people revel in that, You know, wear it like a badge of honour. They are not my people.

What are the magic ingredients to re-balance a stressful life?

I already gave them away at the beginning but here they are again and here are ways to get to know their importance and make them part of everyday life. 

1) Fun

Are you really too busy to have fun? Some of you are telling me that you are too busy to ‘play card games’ (they are referring to my Smiley Thought Cards). They are so much more than a box of cards. Here’s 28 Ways to Instantly Create a Happy Vibe in Your Home with them.

Stress is robbing us of making special memories with our kids, and robbing our children of getting something they really need.

A quick boost of fun in your life changes the energy of how we feel and the environment around us. Dr Gottman’s magic ratio says that we need 5 positive interactions to one negative one for a relationship to survive. As long as there are five times as many positive interactions between you and your child as there are negative, the relationship is likely to be stable. Focus on finding the good stuff. Take a daily gratitude roll and find 3 things you love about your child.

Children need play and love to have fun and you were a child once. Here are some great ideas for bringing a little fun into your parenting (and enhance your connection and their emotional intelligence at the same time).

2) Creativity

Creativity has been so healing in my life and this week, I was listening to this podcast with Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic:Create Living Beyond Fear) and Brene Brown (Wonderful Researcher + Story teller) where Brene said:

‘I don’t do a lot of A-R-T because I’ve got a J-O-B. So, you go take your paintbrush or your scrapbooking and go have a good time, because I gotta get sh1t done!!!!’

That was how Brene used to think when people told her about creativity. I can see how that relates to lots of us. Are you thinking right now: ‘When would I ever have time to be creative because that is just super self-indulgent?’

Or do you have creativity or art scars?

Brene went onto say that there is no such thing as creative and non-creative types. During her research she discovered that 80% of people were shamed at school by an experience which changed the way they saw themselves for the rest of their lives. She then went onto say that 50% of those people had shame wounds around creativity.

Creativity is also the home of vulnerability where there is everything we are hungry for as human beings. So it really does nourish your soul. What blocks it? Shame. You have to watch Brene’s Ted talk ‘Listening to Shame,’ to understand how shame blocks creativity and breeds perfectionism.

It’s not what we do, it’s who we are

That’s another corker from Brene. Creativity is what sets us apart from each other and allows us to express our uniqueness. This is what we bring to the world and our children need to understand this about themselves. How can they, when school is teaching them to grade themselves and make comparisons to how their peers do it?

What do you bring to the world?

My creativity comes through in my work. In the way I connect, communicate and coach the families I work with. Truly Madly Smiley listeners story tell, use anologies and find all manner of ways to see the world from another perspective. What about you?

Life stops being fun when we are too busy to flex our creativity muscles. It requires us to be vulnerable and take a leap of faith because at any time it could all go wrong. Instead of letting shame paralyse us in our steps, we choose kindness and compassion so we can begin again.

Perfectionism and comparison kills creativity and joy.

We’re talking about parenting and creativity there?

Being a parent calls upon the most creative part of you

Do you think that unless your job is creative or you get involved in a crafting session with your kids or dragged into art homework projects you are not creative? Wrong. Being a parent is the most toughest job on the planet and calls upon the most creative part of you to problem solve and see things differently. Which brings me onto the last magical ingredient.

3) Connection

Creativity also breeds fun, passion and connection. It’s heart and soul living. You know what a big fan of that I am. I know that connecting with your child on an emotional level and building on your relationship with them will help them to grow up to be happy, healthy adults.

You cannot give away what you don’t have (or were not given)

Children who rest in love feel cherished. If you are not making time to nourish your soul, I doubt very much you can truly nourish your child’s and connect with them in a way that feels authentic. A deep emotional connection feels safe and secure. The best way to connect is through empathy – seeing the world through your child’s eyes.

So what’s going to give? It will be you if you don’t realise that you are a priority. I say this in the least lecturing and guilting and shaming way. I say it because I struggle with self-care and I’m not a Mum. Self-care wasn’t role-modelled to me growing up and every time my life goes a little off piste or I struggle or I am emotionally overwhelmed, it’s because I haven’t been taking care of myself.

What are your favourite ways to bring those elements into your life?

Have a think about what lights your fire? I love to cook and write. If you read my blog regularly, you know that I use creativity as part of the Truly Madly Smiley podcast.

All this stuff is instant fun and connection material. See you don’t have to worry about being too busy because Smiley is taking care of that.

Creativity is about making something from nothing

or transforming something into something else

Think about how the role of a Mum calls you to be creative. Not only did you make a tiny amazing human being out of a night of love (well let’s not get into that, I like to think that’s how it happened!)

  • Maybe you creatively problem solve when things don’t go quite how you had planned
  • Or rustle up supper out of leftovers in your fridge
  • Perhaps you are great at making outfits for World Book Day out of random sh1t all set for the car boot sale
  • Or do you turn tears into laughter and  mess into order
  • Maybe you have nested and have made a beautiful home
  • Or shuffle the diary so everybody gets to be where they are meant to be

Think about all the ways you enjoyed being creative when you were little

Can you revisit or bring some of those back? When I was a little girl I loved to dance and so an impromptu boogie around the kitchen is always welcome. I also loved to write stories and get total and utter nourishment writing these blogs posts for you. Have you read my book Stuck Between Two Worlds?

We want our children to experience the freedom creativity brings

The freedom to be themselves. So I’m counting on you to make this happen. Will you allow yourself the time and space to restore balance in your life? Will you let yourself step back and find more ways to bring these beautiful elements into your family life? It’s much needed. Children are growing up in a crazy busy world that is crushing them. 10 Obvious Signs of A Stressed Child that Parents Often Ignore.

Creativity, connection and fun are like heart + soul vitamins

Creativity is not simply having fun, but it’s how you connect with your child in a meaningful way. It’s the very thing which nourishes their sense of self. We spend a long time at school without creativity and it feels like the fun has been taken out of learning and replaced with pressure. Children complain school is like prison which tells me they feel trapped, bored and afraid.

Let’s make sure there aren’t any more art scars. Isn’t that what we are all here for? To make your heart sing? To feel your joy?  To explore life with playful curiosity? It doesn’t have to be so serious. What are you going to do to re-balance your family life in a meaningful way today? 

Truly Madly Smiley. An essential emotional education for life.

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