by Jan and Rick Hanson
By the end of the day, I feel frazzled and chock full of pent up feelings and thoughts. I don't want to let all that out on my kids or my husband -- and I hate it when I do -- so do you know any ways to get rid of this stuff without exploding?!
It's really normal to feel like you describe. A mom is dealing with so many feelings and needs and wants in her children and partner that the stress builds up over the course of a day. Plus many women have been taught in various ways to keep a stiff upper lip and not to say anything that seems like a complaint -- which just keeps things bottled up and festering.
Of course, it is important to be able to say what needs to be said to your husband or to your kids or to other people. But it's always also helpful to be able to let go of painful feelings, thoughts, stress, or tension entirely within your own mind. Plus, you can adapt these skills for your children, from the age of preschoolers onward, which will be very, very helpful to them.
Here's a summary of practical methods for letting go - and you can learn more from the other recent columns on our website.
It is almost impossible to be upset when your body is relaxed. Try one of these relaxation skills, even in the middle of a challenging situation:
You can deepen your capacity to relax when the fur starts flying by practicing relaxation techniques at calmer times, like right before bed:
For kids, bedtime is a great time to train them in these techniques, since they'll put up with more mumbo-jumbo to keep you in the room. The point is that you will initially take them through some of the methods above, and then over time you will expect them increasingly to use the methods themselves at night -- as well as during the day, in real-life situations.
Yes, life has its share of suffering, and we are certainly not suggesting that you resist difficult feelings or suppress them. Instead, we're talking about simply helping them on their way.