#CLEMAMA: ‘Finding Calm’ as a Parent

#CLEMAMA: ‘Finding Calm’ as a Parent

- in 2018 Editions, Health, Magazine, October 2018, Parenting
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Sara Carnes listens to daily meditations to help keep herself grounded and calm after a workout.

Like so many, I struggle with anxiety. Some days are harder than others. As a parent, though, I feel like it not only affects me, but it in turn impacts my family. I’ve learned that when my anxiety strikes, it prevents me from being the parent I want to be — even the wife I want to be.

Sometimes I feel like I worry more than I guide, stress more than I laugh, and obsess more than I listen. I’ve had one too many sleepless nights worrying about “what ifs” instead of living in the present.

Calm, I’ve learned, is contagious. Let me say it again: calm is contagious. You’ve probably even heard this quote before: “Children learn more from what you are than what you teach,” by W.E.B. Dubois. So these days, I’m striving to live on the belief that calm parents raise calm kids. Easier said than done, right?

I’m still a work in progress, but I have found a few things that have helped me — so I thought I’d share with you.

You are not alone. First off, one of the biggest things to know is that you’re not alone. It’s OK to talk about about your fears and anxiety. Sometimes just saying something out loud and hearing someone else say, “Me, too!” can make you feel so much better. Honestly, you’d be surprised how many others struggle with finding calm in their lives. Talking to each other, building friendships and working through your worries with someone can help a lot! (I’m also a big believer in talking to a professional counselor/psychologist if your anxiety has gotten to the point where you could use the extra support.)

Fear is a liar. Yep, one of the biggest things I’ve worked on is staying in the present. The constant array of “what ifs” and fear of the unknown when it comes to parenting can be overwhelming. It’s one thing to be prepared for something, but another to worry excessively over every scenario imaginable. There is fear and there are facts; stick to the facts.

Help is available. There are a ton of helpful resources out there for you to create calm. One of my favorite, easy little tricks is to Google “breathing exercise” when you feel stressed, or just to keep yourself grounded on a daily basis. When you do this, it brings up a breathing exercise tool for you to follow. Stop what you’re doing for two minutes a day to watch your breath go in and out. Doing this for at least 21 days can increase your happiness, drop stress levels, and help you think clearer. This is a just a free, easy way to help. I also love to put my headphones on after a workout or when I need a break and listen to the app CALM. (It’s available by subscription on the app store – but they offer free daily sessions, too!) I even use the app to listen to sleep stories at night to help me fall asleep.

Sometimes I feel like the reason we worry so much is because we love so much. From my experience, those of us who struggle with anxiety have very strong emotions. Although loving deeply is amazing, it’s important to give ourselves those gentle reminders to think and act on things that we can control — and take one day at a time.  

If you’re interested in more tips on living “calm” and healthy, follow me on Instagram: @SaraCarnes4

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