Ever have one of those days where you’re doing everything “right”, practicing all sorts of self-care rituals, but not exactly feeling all those great benefits?
Are you wondering what you could possibly be doing wrong?
Well, guess what? You may not be doing anything wrong. You could just be having a bad day, plain and simple.
Because you’re human, and humans have bad days.
And if you’re a mom with small people, go ahead and write that one in stone, girl.
In fact – although taking good care of yourself consistently will, hands down, upgrade your ENTIRE life – there’s no strategy, course or coach out there that’ll take every single bad day away.
No matter how many miles you run.
Or how flexible your hamstrings are.
Or how many mornings you meditate before the babies wake up.
Or how many times you remember that positive parenting mantra to prevent your toddler’s impending tantrum (always in public of course).
Or how deeply you breathe when (s)he loses it anyway (in front of everyone obviously).
It doesn’t even how matter many manicures you get, or vacations you take, or how clean your house is.
No mother is 100% immune from the irritations, frustrations, fatigue, or workload of everyday mom life.
You’re not doing it wrong. You’re not failing. And you can feel better… even if right now feels bad.
I’m a self-care teacher and I’ve had my fair share of bad days. Just recently, I was finishing up an exhausting weekend of international travel (solo, as usual, with my two toddlers). Two straight sleepless nights (one in the air with them as they napped intermittently, one on the ground as their jet-lagged bodies woke them, and me, up every 1/2 hour). A full day of sun and activities to tire them out (which only worked on one of them). Endless paperwork in preparation for an immigration appointment tomorrow (because, French administration). Not nearly enough caffeine. And it sucked.
On the surface, there was no big emergency. No endless chaos. No serious problem. It was all fine. But it sucked. I was doing my self-care practices. No spa appointments, but my normal care rituals were consistent. And it still sucked. I felt tired, lonely, on-edge, and off-center.
Below the surface, my autonomic nervous system was completely disregulated. I was in a constant state of fight, flight, and freeze. And that’s what happens when we’re stressed: the stress activates different parts of our nervous system, and they help us feel happy or like a hot mess.
Here, my stress had turned on the sympathetic nervous system to defend me (responsible for fight and flight, aka my hot mess state). This shoots out stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin. And I was trying to activate the calming branch of my parasympathetic system (the ventral vagal nerve, aka my happy place).
When heavy feelings happen, I here’s the first rule I follow: “All feelings allowed.”
Simply acknolwedging your feelings without judgment is a big step to relaxing your stress response. And you can do this without letting yourself live there. Wallowing doesn’t work. Neither does distracting, hiding, or stuffing it down. But allowing your feelings to just be, without trying to fix them or feel like you must turn ’em into some genius #inspirational Instagram content? That’s the good stuff, my friend.
Acknowledging how you feel even when it sucks, letting yourself experience that emotion without judging yourself for it, is an act of gentleness, acceptance, and presence. It also helps your body and brain move out of defense mode.
It’s the resilience-rich pot of gold at the end of the rainbow the comes after the rain. And it’s one of the highest forms of self-care you can ever practice.
So remember to give yourself the chance:
- Notice when you’re stifling your own feelings, especially when they suck (and you can’t stand it).
- Practice giving them some space.
- See how, if you let them, they can pass through… and you can move on to something amazing.
Because that’s the best thing about days that suck. There’s two sides of every coin, and the other awesome one – with its love and light and things just working out somehow – eventually comes back around.
So the next time things suck, hang in there. Because you can. 😉