You don’t know how strong you are until you’ve been pushed to the edge a few times – or daily, as motherhood would have it.
Young mother of two and TCM contributor, Alisha Sanvicens, recently checked out a program called The Resilience Toolkit by Lumos Transforms designed to equip clients, from new mamas to corporate overachievers, with “effective, simple stress-reduction solutions that build capacity and resilience.” Or in other words, these tools support the ability to respond mindfully to stress and bounce back gracefully rather than just react to it. Here’s the best of what this young mom learned from a day with their team…
The clichéd image of the frazzled mama wasn’t pulled from thin air. Motherhood calls forth the deepest of physical and emotional reserves, reserves you didn’t even know existed. Children, in addition to filling you with pure joy, also require everything from you: patience, compassion and a never-ending stream of snacks. Taking care of little ones can trigger anxiety in even the most zen of caregivers. In an unfortunate twist, during this season when self-care is needed most, women seem to have the least amount of time to fill their wells.
Enter Nkem Ndefo, founder of Lumos Transforms, and expert on building resiliency in pregnant and parenting women. As a former nurse midwife working with high-risk populations, she noticed a deep root of toxic stress in many of the pregnant women’s lives she worked with. She wanted to help not only on a personal level but also on a larger scale.
Nkem’s work now focuses on getting to the heart of reducing stress. She teaches women how to work with their body’s natural responses to calm stress and settle their nervous system. She also shows women how to increase their personal resiliency so they have the bandwidth to not just survive each day, but also develop an increased capacity to focus on the big work of the world they are called to.
Here are some of her tips for staying calm and building your resiliency:
Learn Your Nervous System
It can be easy to push through or ignore stress, because you’re a mother. And usually when you’re stressed, it’s because you have a ton you need to do! Study your body’s own responses to stress so you can quickly identify what’s happening. Do you get angry and bossy? Do you become passive? Do your shoulders tense up? Developing an awareness of your stress responses is crucial to getting in front of it.
Resilience involves knowing when it’s safe to rest, then resting effectively. Ask yourself:
Does my stress match the situation? If not, do I need to take a rest? What do I need to rest effectively? Am I doing that? Did that past hour of reading Instagram really recharge and energize me, or further zone me out? Did that high-intensity workout renew or feed my anxiety?
It’s important to know if a “rest” activity is working, and if it’s not working, what’s at stake. We’re better at parenting (and life in general) when truly rested and recharged.
When your stress response is bigger than the situation, it’s time to physically down-regulate your nervous system. Doing this helps to re-pattern how your nervous system reacts and helps you to source energy from a calm place (rather than surviving on adrenaline).
The Butterfly Hug
One practice from Nkem’s Resilience Toolkit you can try is the butterfly hug. You can use this anytime you’re feeling stress creep in. Here’s how:
Lift both hands with palms facing you. Cross the hands and grasp the thumbs. Place the hands on your chest with your fingers pointing up toward your head and the fingertips just under your collarbone. Tap one hand gently against the chest and then the other. Continue alternate tapping.
How are you managing stress? Find some of our most useful tips here.