8 Things I Did to Transform my Life
This morning, talking with a very overwhelmed young mother, tears came to my eyes as I remembered when I was in her shoes. The paroxysms of rage at my children, the crippling anxiety, the paralyzing overwhelm which overshadowed my mothering life when my big kids were little.
So what changed?
To be clear, I still get overwhelmed, and have a hard time, and lose it with my kids from time to time. But my current struggles are scratching kittens compared to the hungry lions that used to prowl around my home and mind a decade and a half ago.
Here’s some things that helped me, and if you are struggling, I hope some of these ideas can help you too…
1. Diet- 12 years ago, when I was pregnant with my 4th daughter, I decided I had to make some really drastic changes to feel calmer. I went from being a person who could not wake up without a strong cup of coffee with two heaping tablespoons of sugar (“Ma’am, would you like some coffee with your sugar?”) to going cold turkey. No caffeine. No sugar. And also, no white flour (though I’m more lenient about the white flour on Shabbat). If you are addicted to these things, it might sound impossible. But I’ll tell you, as someone who has been going strong for 12 years, once you break the addiction (it takes around a month) the craving disappears. And avoiding these foods really helps me to feel more calm and emotionally stable.
2. Exercise- At least 20 minutes a day, get your heart rate up and your endorphins flowing. I like brisk walking. Makes a major impact on my mood and my ability to handle whatever my mothering life throws my way.
3. Classical Homeopathy- At the beginning of my path, a good homeopath really helped me break out of the anxiety/anger cycle. Also, depending on your situation, I would highly suggest looking into finding an excellent psychologist or psychiatrist (who might recommend medication to help you cope). Hashem has given us amazing new tools to be healthier and happier mothers in the modern era, b”H! Let’s use them!
4. Omega 3 – I have been taking omega 3 capsules for the last year and a half, and they help me to feel much calmer and to quiet my mind when I start feeling anxious or angry. I take one every morning, and take two if I am about to do something stressful.
5. Naps – Rabbi Nivin taught us that 90% of emotional issues come about because our gas tanks are nearing empty. We haven’t eaten. We haven’t exercised. We haven’t gotten enough sleep. I am really sensitive to sleep, so I rest twice a day– half an hour in the morning after the morning rush, and half an hour in the afternoon before my school kids come home from school.
6. Positive thinking – By nature, I am a big worrier, who is always bracing for the worst case scenario. So Chaya Hinda Allen’s phone course “Jewish Positive Thinking” was a game changer for me. Since taking that course several years ago, every day (during my morning rest) I do some positive thinking exercises– I think of 10 good things that will happen that day, I think of a time that I felt Hashem watching over my family and 5 details of that event, I think of 10 things I am thankful for. Then I daven and think of the main things I want to accomplish that day. It really helps to set my day off on the right foot.
7. Inspirational classes – Certain incredible teachers have provided the soundtrack that has helped to rewire my brain over the last 15 years, making me into a more inspired mother and healthy and positive person. Rabbi Aryeh Nivin and Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi. Parenting courses from Dina Friedman and Rabbanit Talia Helfer.
8. JewishMOM.com – I have been writing every day, pretty much, for the past 16 years. That corner of my life to do something that I love and find fulfilling is so energizing. I am not recommending that all of you become Mommy bloggers, but I do recommend that each one of you finds something that you love to do, and DO it!