Tips from a holistic health coach
All single moms are warrior women—simply because we have to be. It is common to go and go until we crash out of absolute necessity. Along with the stress that every person feels in modern life, Solo Moms may feel additional exhausting emotions that often are labeled as “negative”: tension, grief, anger, betrayal, sorrow, loneliness, shame, panic, isolation, fear, and frustration.
When we don’t have time to address our emotions, they can manifest in all kinds of ways. Eczema, digestive distress, headaches, misplaced rage, and depression are all wise informants, reminding us that we have a subtle body, or spirit, along with a physical body. It is inefficient to shove those feelings down because they will always rise to the surface again.
We typically know when we are pushing that edge that eventually will result in exhaustion. Helpful ways of release can happen once feelings start to pile up. What our society often doesn’t address are ways to “be” with powerful emotions without self-blame or judgment. Furthermore, these powerful feelings can be channeled in a manner that ultimately serves us.
Here are some ideas for channeling your feelings. These can be especially effective when done in order, but they don’t necessarily have to be:
Zoom out and whittle it down. When powerful or painful emotions arise, it is natural for us Solo Moms to think, I do not have time for this and push them back down. Yet it is wise to zoom out of the initial reaction and view emotions more like friends, nudging us with, “Please pay attention to what I need.”
Once the feelings start to pile up, it is helpful to whittle down the general overwhelm to a few key feelings that hold true. That gives us something real and raw to work with. For instance:
“I wish I had more support from—.”
“I’m disappointed because I deserve more.”
“I miss having a place where I belong.”
“I worry that things won’t be good again.”
“This experience feels unfair, and I resent it.”
“This isn’t what I envisioned for myself.”
“My best feels like it falls short of enough.”
“My life has been derailed by an abuser.”
Tune in and breathe. Holding in your mind the legitimate feelings you are choosing to address (and they are all legitimate), now it is time to breathe. Deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth will help with relaxation and release.
Breathing is tough while driving, having a toddler hang on to you, or reviewing legal documents. Try to find a space in which to breathe: in the tub, under a tree, on a walk or run.
Next, tune in to specific areas of your body that are holding tension. Your chest may have a tangible weight on it, or the pressure in your shoulders and neck may become obvious. You may be clenching your jaw or your fists. Focus your breath toward releasing those areas.
Punch, shout, run, cry. Depending on what kinds of feelings are presenting themselves, there are various ways to release the pressure that accompanies powerful emotions. An obvious way is crying, but sometimes to get to the crying part there must be a catalyst for release.
It is completely acceptable to punch things such as pillows and mattresses. Maybe you have a really tacky wedding figurine that just needs to be smashed. That’s really OK, as long as there is no possibility of you or anyone else being physically harmed. Just like children (who are generally more attuned to their feelings than adults), we also need to let go, yell out, and throw things sometimes.
You can also just run like hell. If that is within your realm of possibility, try it out. Run until you have to stop and then maybe have a good cry. Howling at the moon is also a fabulous release.
Write it out. Once emotions have simmered down a bit, a reflective session might be in order. Journaling what you’ve experienced will serve as a reminder of how important it is to take the time to release. You might touch on the legitimacy of what you’ve been feeling and the effectiveness of various avenues of release.
Talks with girlfriends, yoga, and mani-pedis are all wonderful ways of sustaining calm. But when there is simply no time and really intense things are happening, remember there are other ways to tune in and get that intensity to surface. After all, getting sick is no fun and just not an option most of the time. We can empower ourselves to tune in and release what no longer serves us.
Sarah Sheen is a certified holistic health coach who resides in the Southwest. She previously completed studies in studio art and art history at the State University of New York at Purchase. Her passion is to integrate art and health, discovering custom, creative paths to wellness for herself and her community. She is also a Solo Mom to a very busy toddler. You can follow her on Twitter.
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