Our lives seem to move at the speed of high-speed tornado running down an open field. We birth our children, and suddenly we look around, and they are growing much faster than we realized was possible. Often we forget about ourselves within the bustle of the day to day of raising our children, and for many of us, we misplace our happiness and joy.
While this is true for nearly all mothers, for mothers raising children with disabilities the tornado can often feel like a hurricane, and the time to decompress and reflect is non-existent. We are busy running from appointment to appointment, and managing therapists, doctors, teachers, and paperwork.
The amount of time and energy we spend FIGHTING for our children can be seen in the wrinkles next to our eyes, the grey hairs that pop out from our eyebrows or scalp, and the bags that engulf our eyes.
We are not only tired, but many of us are emotionally empty, spiritually void, and mentally exhausted. Relationships in our lives suffer, and we forget how to have any form of balance.
Our entire lives remain entwined in the care of our precious child. Most of us understand the importance of the advocacy, fight, and grit our children need from us each day.
Within the spinning debris and chaos that engulfs our lives, we often forget about what makes us unique outside of our child. Our interests, hobbies, and sense of self-fall off our massive to-do lists. As the years churn on, we become further and further away from who we are and become our child’s Mom. Mom is the only title we seem to understand and embrace. All the interests we previously had, look like a distant memory that was swept away by the swift winds of the storm.
I promise that it doesn’t have to be this way. Despite the massive amounts of needs our children have and need from us, there is still time for us to remember who we are in within the tornado. Days and nights may easily blend, and severe sleep deprivation may feel as though you are a walking zombie.
However, grab that extra shot of espresso or grande coffee from your local coffee shop – and CHARGE UP. There are 24 hours in every single day, and every single minute can be harvested and nurtured in some capacity.
Instead of reaching for your phone, laptop, or your tablet, reach for something that will fill up your soul and feed your spirit. When you have a free moment from your child’s care, pick up a book and dive into your favorite protagonist’s journey. Kick up those feet and soak up the words as they float off the pages into the depths of our imagination. Sip on a warm cup of tea or coffee, lock your door and slip out of your reality for a few moments.
If you do not enjoy reading, purchase a journal from your favorite bookstore and start writing. The pain and trauma you face on a daily basis should not remain locked in your head. Light some candles, diffuse your favorite oil or put on your favorite relaxing music.
Spend the time writing letters to yourself, and remind yourself who you are, what you want, and that you are worthy of being more than just a Mom. Release your heart of the dark thoughts and words that suffocate your soul and joy each day.
If you feel as though you need to cleanse yourself of the pain, take your words to a flame and burn the pages as a symbol of your release from the darkness.
Creating a new life is what we have done as mothers, but we often forget that outside of child’s needs we also have our creative energy that needs to be utilized. There are so many surprising ways to get creative. Painting, stamping, scrapbooking, drawing, coloring, sewing, knitting, or crafting can be fantastic ways to refocus your energy.
Set aside time weekly to do something that taps into your creative power. Adult coloring books are a simple and easy way to disconnect without having to come up with our design. Paint and Pallet Events are held all over the country as a way to not only get social but get instruction and learn.
Community education catalogs are often full of classes that teach painting, drawing, sketching, knitting, pottery, and even dance. Spending your time lost in creative energy can fill your soul with joy and provide you new skills to use when you feel you are most stressed.
Put Down the Glass of Wine
Feeling good can be hard to find. Many of us will reach for a glass of wine, beer or mixed drink for a chemical fix to relax our anxiety and stress. However, that glass of alcohol will make us only feel good momentarily as our brains become flooded with excess dopamine. Dopamine is the “feel good” chemical that so many of us seek. Dopamine makes us feel buzzed, happy and euphoric.However, as we drink more alcohol, our brains begin to shut down the excess dopamine receptors and increase dopamine transporters, which moves the excess dopamine away from the brain. What this means for you is – the more you drink, the less dopamine your brain will make.
You will begin to feel less joy and pleasure. Low dopamine levels can also leave you feeling…void of emotion or numb. Don’t waste your dopamine on a quick fix of alcohol. Seek out other activities that will increase your dopamine levels without changing the chemical balance of your brain.
Not only is exercise good for our physical bodies, but it is also essential for our well-being. Exercise releases endorphins into your body that help improve your mood, reduce your stress, relieve pain, boost immunity, slow the aging process and create a sense of euphoria.
Long-term cardio exercises can increase your serotonin levels which will improve your mood, decrease your depression and feeling of hostility, and improve your social interactions. Intense cardio work-outs – where you push yourself to physical and mental exhaustion can increase your dopamine levels which will make you feel good and give you a “high.”
All three chemicals play a vital role in improving your mood, reducing your depression, and help reduce your anxiety. So get moving – whether it’s running, biking, hiking, skating, dancing, playing a sport, or taking a high-intensity cardio class at the gym – pick something that works for your interests.
Not only will you improve your mood, but you will also help increase your metabolism, improve your heart strength, and sweat out all those negative feelings that have been bringing you down.
Finding joy is no easy task for any mother, but if we invest time in ourselves, there is time for happiness every day.
Take time for yourself this week. Pick something that works for your interests.
Also, stop telling yourself that you don’t have time for any of these options. If you had time to read this article, scroll through your social media, or sit on Facebook for hours – you have time to seek joy in other places.