I’ve been thinking a lot about my nervous system lately and how it relates to the way I show up as a mom, and today I wanted to spend a few minutes unpacking those thoughts with you in the hopes you may find them helpful.
One thing that has been weighing on my mind, in particular, is that, despite all the ways humans disagree, I think one thing we can agree on is the myriad of ways the pandemic has assaulted our individual and collective nervous systems.
According to a report in the Neuropsychopharmacology journal, whether you have contracted COVID-19 or not, the pandemic has likely changed your brain, inevitably impacting your nervous system since the two are directly connected.
I think it’s also safe to say that having a crispy, burnt-out nervous system makes it hard(er) to be a conscious and gentle parent. I know it has for me.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but since I’ve been doing some serious introspection into how I want to support and rebuild my own nervous system, I have begun to retrospectively see all the ways I was using various coping mechanisms throughout the pandemic to absorb the blow of all the shocking news and events we were (are) living through.
My nervous system was always on high alert and instead of choosing things to calm my state of mind, I (unconsciously) was choosing things that were jacking up my nervous system, even more, leaving me irritable, impatient, and not a lot of fun to be around.
Now, I say that alongside giving myself a huge heaping pitcher of self-compassion because, like you, this was my first pandemic rodeo and I know that I was just doing the best I could with what I had. I intentionally invested in countless ways to show up for myself and my family the best I could and know in my heart we have plenty of wonderful memories to look back on during this time. I’ve learned that when doing these deep self-reflections for personal growth, it’s just as important to celebrate our wins. 🙂
That said, I have also had to be painfully honest with myself by confronting some of the not-so-helpful habits that I picked up over the last couple of years including drinking waaaaaay too much coffee, having that extra glass or two of wine I know my body and mind didn’t need, and doom scrolling (reading scary and shocking news) more than I care to admit.
At the end of 2021, I knew things had to change for myself and for my family. Whether we’re explicitly rattled or irritable, our kids pick up on our energy and just *know* when we aren’t feeling calm and grounded. I knew my kids were picking up what I was putting down.
Also, my rattled nervous system was impacting my ability to focus and I have so many good things I want to create for this community and the only way to do that was to get serious about re-tilling the inner landscape of my nervous system.
How did I do that?
I took baby steps.
The first thing I did was cut back on my coffee to one cup in the morning. Everyone’s body reacts differently to caffeine, so I am not suggesting this to anyone else – this is what works for me right now. If I really want/need another pick-me-up later in the morning, I have a cup of matcha tea.
Once I felt good in that habit, I moved on to bookend my days with meditation. Although for some reason, I have a negative connotation with that word/practice, so I just call it connecting with my truest self. I do that 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before bed.
I’ve always exercised, but I became more intentional about this as well, making sure I sweat several times a week to help boost all those feel-good neurochemicals.
Finally, I get outside every day. Nature is our nervous system’s best friend. It’s instantly regulating and it allows our body to regulate in a way that few other resources can compete with.
Knowing and understanding our nervous systems is such an important and under-discussed pillar of conscious parenting. This is foundational work for parents who want to respond instead of reacting, and connect instead of coercing.
READY TO GROW A NEW WAY OF PARENTING?
If you’re ready to grow a new way of parenting, cultivate more self-compassion, and relate to yourself and your child in a way that honors both your wholeness and worthiness, I would invite you to check out the Rebirth Journal to see if it’s a good fit for you!