4 parenting tips for when you're emotionally overwhelmed

Making self-care a priority and finding balance of exposure are things that would help one

Amna Hashmi November 20, 2016

Could 2016 have been any more challenging? Looking back, it seems as though the entire year has been exceptionally bleak ever since it began. Back to back terror attacks in Pakistan and upsetting socio-political situation doesn’t seem to settle down any moment now.

In such circumstances, it’s difficult to not get sucked into a cycle of frustration, grief, anxiety and rage. And when you have to go about your daily chores in the midst of all this, you are bound to feel even worse - especially if your chores involve having to explain the world to your young ones.

Fortunately, there are some ways you can weather an emotional storm as a parent, even when you’re completely overwhelmed by the news of the day. As compiled from The Huffington Post, here are four useful tips for you to try out:
1. Try not to shelter your children too much

Children are able to pick up on our emotions from a very, very young age. They can tell when you’re angry, sad or the opposite and observe how you work through each emotion, talk to others and make plans to move forward.

In the process, children also learn about disappointment and loss; that life doesn’t always go as expected. What you need to remember is that this also teaches them emotional intelligence and resilience. Therefore, don’t think you have to keep your eyes dry at all times or have the TV turned off whenever something bad is being aired on it. It’s quite beneficial for your children to see you being human.

2. Find balance of exposure

Yes, exposure is advantageous but there is a fine line between teaching and traumatising. Children can have a hard time discerning between imagine or exaggerated threats and real ones. If they are exposed to too many violent images or inflammatory language on TV, they can feel unsafe and the same goes for us adults.

Therefore, try and limit your exposure to the news and negative rhetoric. Shut off social media when necessary and monitor how much news you are processing around your little ones. And don’t forget to get back to the daily activities which make you feel better.

3. Seek solace in routines and rituals

The best part about having little ones is that they keep you busy, regardless of how old they might be. Just because the world seems to be at odds with the universe doesn’t mean you can skip out on breastfeeding, doing the laundry or tucking them in. The news could reach an all-time low but you still have to drop your children off at school, show up at work and get on the dirty dishes when you come home.

In this way, children can bring us back to soothing rituals and force us back into our routines. Therefore, try to find peace in the sameness of your days and eventually, you’ll start to feel much better, guaranteed!

4. Make self-care a priority

As stated earlier, your children are watching how you look after yourself when upset. They’re picking up important lessons relating to self-care and boundaries from you. Keep reminding yourself of this and take care of yourself.

This includes sleeping early, scheduling routine outings with friends and family, perhaps visiting a place of worship, getting a massage - whatever is comforting to you. Donating to a cause you care about could also be it. Whatever you do, the youngsters will be watching.

Ultimately, this will allow you to stay fully present around them and participate in your relationships and jobs wholeheartedly. Also, most importantly, if you feel like you could be depressed or suffering from anxiety, don’t hesitate from seeking professional help. Remember that you are not alone in this mess. You are definitely, not alone...

Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2016.

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