Ten Free Ways for Parents to Break Free of a Bad Mood (I’ll bet there are a few you’ve never thought of)
Picture yourself, it’s Sunday around 3:00 pm. You have already watched the children slowly dismantle any progress you made in getting the house into order over the week while they were in school. They have gone through the playdates, video games, television and 1/2 the board games- as evidenced by the living room floor. As you think about whether you are up for making dinner and wondering if you even have anything to make, you start to get grumpy. Okay, you were already grumpy. Maybe you have already yelled at them a few times and now, in addition to feeling overwhelmed about the mess in your home, you are also feeling bad about the words you have said- not that you are going to stop saying them mind you, because you are stuck in a loop of grumpy, nasty behavior…the same kind you get angry with your kids for having. Below are a few techniques to help break free from the grumpy nasties and I’m quite sure there are a few you have not tried yet. Why not print out the full list at the bottom of the post and stick it on your fridge to try out when the grumpies strike again?
1. Put the kids in the tub or shower or take a bath or shower yourself. Something about being in the water helps to set the reset button for kids and sometimes adults. If you are taking a bath or shower, visualize all the angry, grumpy feelings getting washed off of you and watch them go down the drain.
2. Set up a behavioral chart for yourself (if you get through something without yelling, you get a point and x number of points gets you something like a night out, a new cd you’ve had your eye on, etc. I cover this one in my post “Ditch Your Behavior Charts!”).
3. Tap on the inside of your pinky finger and say three times “I forgive myself, I did the best I could do.” Then, continue tapping and repeat three times “I forgive myself, I’m doing the best I can.” Don’t ask how it works, it’s an accupressure technique, just try it! You know a big part of what you are doing has to do with the way you are talking to yourself about what is happening right now. Think about ways you can forgive yourself- this is one of them.
4. Imagine you are speaking to someone who loves you, your best friend who always knows what to say, your grandmother, whoever, and pretend they are with you right now guiding you.
5. Learn EFT. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is a quick, easy tapping technique that can help in all kinds of different areas of your life. It addresses anxiety, depression, traumatic memories and much more. Here is a link to someone teaching EFT. I would recommend just doing the shortcut he teaches in the first 6 minutes. It’s all I ever really teach and it seems to be enough. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPZ-xmj6KTI&feature=related. If you really want to learn more, check out this site: http://eftuniverse.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=18&Itemid=21
6. Do a quick 5 minute spurt of exercise even though it is the last thing you feel like doing right now. Partly this is just going to break the pattern by doing something different from what you were originally going to do next. Add to that a quick, natural endorphin rush, and a feeling like you just took care of your body for a moment and it can really do the trick. A great exercise that we do sometimes in our home that really gets us moving and laughing is playing “Just Dance” on the Wii. We crack up as we watch each other try to get the moves right. Just make sure no one gets hit with the remote. Remind yourself that you don’t have to be at the gym and doing a full workout to get a little benefit from exercise. See how long it takes you to go up and down the stairs of your home or apartment building 10 times, jog in place, race the kids a few times in the yard.
7. Cry. You read that right. Think of the energy we spend holding back tears when really tears can be quite healing and good. Even better than crying is crying in a hot shower. That really gives your body a release. Your tears actually carry stress hormones, that are otherwise trapped in your body, out of your body. So, when I say it’s a release, I mean it, you are letting go of stress hormones when you cry. Also, people worry about crying in front of children. Unless this is a recurring issue- in which case I think you need to read my post on finding a therapist, crying in front of your kids a few times a year is okay and actually can teach them about allowing themselves to show feelings and get comfort.
8. Change locations. When the kids were little I called them, “I need a witness days.” I didn’t need a witness for them. I needed a witness for me. I needed to go out of the house so that I would be more mindful of how I was acting with my children. Also, just getting out and going to the park gets you away from some of the compounding factors that may be contributing to your mood.
9. Accept help. Remember how you did something wonderful for your friend or neighbor and they were so thankful and told you if you ever needed anything to call? Call. Ask for help. Accept imperfect help from your spouse, partner or friend while you go out to take a walk or clean up so you can feel sane again. Sure, they may not do things the way you want them to, but are you doing things the way you want to right now? Right. Ask for and accept the help.
10. Picture yourself tomorrow, thinking back on today. What do you want to say you did today when you were feeling this way? Do you want to say, “yesterday I was in a foul mood and I couldn’t pull myself out of it?” or do you want to say, “Yesterday I was in a foul mood, then I remembered this list of things to do to get me out of it. I looked on there and found something and I’m pretty proud of myself because I gathered the children and pulled myself together and we all went for a walk. The rest of the day went pretty good.” Once you have pictured what you want to say. Break it down into three smaller steps, what you need to do to get to feeling that way.
Good luck! Let me know what works for you, or, even better, add to the list…
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