Maybe it’s the increasing demands of motherhood combined with the stress in our professional lives. Maybe it’s the series of tragic events unfolding in the news — but it seems as if many of us could use some cheering up these days. We’re not talking about clinical depression – that should be taken seriously and addressed by a doctor. But mothers often feel over-scheduled, overwhelmed, and pulled in multiple directions. Add that to the bigger world issues that often weigh heavily on us, and it seems that finding real joy can be elusive.
One way to jumpstart your mood is by taking better care of yourself: eating healthier, getting more exercise or taking brisk walks outside. Exercise and sunlight are both proven mood enhancers. As the weather gets cooler, also try carving out a few minutes alone: Plug in and listen to a good Podcast or sip a cup of tea by the fire.
To uncover the deeper causes that might block us from discovering real joy, we asked Certified Life Coach Kathy McCabe (kathymccabelifecoach.com) what she recommends to clients who are searching for direction and a deeper purpose. She suggests:
- Create Daily Quiet Time For Yourself. I highly recommend journaling and quiet meditation, but especially journaling because meditation can be difficult at first. I ask my clients to write in a private journal for 15 minutes to an hour each day. I have seen miracles from those who take time to journal and give themselves a chance to hear themselves. I recommend one “BLAH” page, at least, followed by 3 things you are grateful for. Journaling is for your eyes only. Try to let everything pour onto the pages. It’s a great way to hear yourself and learn to trust your inner “voice.” This small whisper often leads you to your next “right life” step.
- Pay Attention To And Question Your Thoughts! One of the most important “real joy” tips is this. Tip #1 will help you find those thoughts you may not know you are holding onto. If your thinking is: “I’ll be happy when … my spouse/child/boss does or doesn’t do something,” then I invite you to look at what you can do to make yourself happy in the moment, versus relying on people or things that are out of your control. Also, notice any negative “self talk” or untrue “stories” you may be telling yourself. When a person is constantly thinking “I am not good enough,” those thoughts will not help that person get a raise, lose weight, attract positive relationships, or whatever goal she is seeking. It’s time to question those thoughts and work on replacing them.
- Practice Compassion in The Moment. The more I am able to practice compassion towards others, the more creative, peaceful energy I have. If a waiter does not bring the dish I ordered, for instance, I try to take a moment to think “this person is doing the best he or she can,” and I can let it go. Then, instead of complaining about how bad the service is, I can spend the rest of dinner enjoying my company. Likewise, it is important to regularly practice compassion towards yourself!
- Look At Who Is On Your Team. Take a moment to list who encourages you and supports you — no matter what. Sometimes friends, family and colleagues may say they support you, but they are actually so stuck in their own stuff, they can’t be there for you — or worse, they may be subtly sabotaging you. Typically they are not bad people, just people who have their own problems. Everyone needs and deserves a great team. Start creating yours.
- Form Healthy Boundaries. You can have all the compassion in the world for a Drama Maker in your life, but if you don’t put healthy boundaries around them, you will suffer. You don’t have to have dinner with cousin Lily if she constantly berates you or sucks your energy.
- Notice What Emotions You May Be Shoving Down. We often push uncomfortable emotions away because we are afraid of them. Instead of allowing ourselves to feel mad, sad, angry, or scared about a problem, we often turn to overeating, drinking, Facebooking, organizing, etc. I have repeatedly seen that when clients allow themselves to feel their real emotions — solutions appear.
- Drop “Should” From Your Vocabulary! Instead, try using “I choose” or “I choose not to.” When we are constantly thinking “I should” or “shouldn’t” do something, we are just creating guilty feelings. Even switching your thought process from “I should pay the bills” to “I choose to pay the bills because I like having electricity” is more empowering.
- Ask What Could Spark Joy For Me Today? Try feeling what “sparks” joy for you each day in your body. What is one “fun” thing you could do for yourself today? It could be very small. If you dread carpooling but feel more excited about the task when you know you could listen to a fabulous book while driving, try doing that. Or, it could be simply saying “no” to a school volunteer event because you would rather spend your time having lunch with a good friend.
- Make An Intention For The Day. Quite often, I create the intention of “peace” for my day, or to be “kind to myself.” If I am on the phone with Comcast about my service and have created an intention to be “peaceful” today, I am less likely to get angry if they tell me it will take a week to fix my internet. Holiday dinners can be stressful to prepare and/or attend. I love having the intention that the purpose of the dinner is “fellowship,” or “connection” — or “survival!” If I keep my intention in mind, I am open to hosting dinner with take-out, a potluck or pizza. I’m also not worried about whether my kids are eating their vegetables!
- Simply Remember How Important Self Care Is. Self Care is a gift to yourself, your family and the world. Exercising and eating right is important, but your self-care includes putting yourself on the calendar, saying “no” when you need to, and questioning untrue thoughts. When people truly take care of themselves, they do not look to their spouse, children, friends or others to “make” them find their real joy.
Kathy McCabe is a Certified Life Coach, Recovering Lawyer, Work-in-Progress Mom and Former People Pleaser. She helps people transform their lives to find Real Joy and Purpose. For more details, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: kathymccabelifecoach.com.
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