Emotional First Aid Kit: How to Stay Calm and Connected in the Chaos of Motherhood

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If you struggle to keep calm and find your centre in the everyday demands of being a working mum I want you to know that you’re not alone. Motherhood can be an emotional rollercoaster.  

The joy.  The frustration. The happiness. The sadness.  The love.  The anxiety.  The pride.  The guilt.  

Being in the trenches as a mum certainly creates a colourful emotional landscape.  But what do we do when we’re experiencing intense and demanding emotions? What can we do to ride this rollercoaster and still show up for our loved ones (and ourselves!) in the way we want to?  How do we stop ourselves being hijacked by our emotions?

I want to give you a little something to keep in your first aid kit.  Something that you can quickly and easily pull out when those emotions are raining down on you. Because how we manage our emotions can make the difference in how much we are able to thrive as a working mum.

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This emotional first aid tool kit is a four step model which is based on the acronym of R.A.I.N.*

R = Recognise what is happening

A = Allow it to be just as it is

I = Investigate your inner experience 

N = Non-identification with your emotion

Step 1: Recognise 

Take a moment to recognise what you’re experiencing.  Emotions (even if we perceive them to be negative) are chemically encoded data.  They’re not good or bad. Negative or positive. They just want us to listen and do something with them. So if we can notice when they are present and turn to them in an open and non-judgemental way we begin to ride the rollercoaster more effectively.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I experiencing?
  • What’s going on in my body? What’s going on in my mind?
  • What sensations can I feel?

It can be useful to name it.  “I’m feeling stressed” or “I’m feeling angry” or “I’m noticing that I’m feeling overwhelmed.”  

This simple statement can bring you in contact with your experience. 

Step 2: Allow

Allowing is all about ‘letting it be as it is’.  It’s about acknowledging and accepting our experience in the present moment.  This step can often be a challenge, particularly if we’re experiencing what we believe to be a ‘negative’ emotion.  Our natural reaction might be to avoid, deny or ignore it hoping that it will go away. But this can often create more of an inner struggle and create more tension.  If we want to be able to respond effectively rather than react, it’s important to allow our emotions space.

Step 3: Investigate

If emotions and chemically encoded data, it can be useful to investigate what the data is telling you.
Perhaps ask yourself:

  • “What’s going on?”
  • “What’s causing me to feel this way?”
  • “What do I need right now?”

These questions bring us into a wiser relationship with our emotions. They develop our emotional intelligence – managing the relationship between our thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Step 4: Non-identification

This step is simply acknowledging that you can experience your emotions but you’re not defined by them. That you can feel angry without being angry.  That you can feel overwhelmed without being overwhelmed.

By creating a little distance between the experience of having the emotion and being hijacked by it, you can put yourself in the position of a fly on the wall. Observing yourself having the experience, rather than being the experience. This gives you more choice about what you do.

These four steps can support you to be in integrity with your experience whilst also supporting you to not feel hijacked by it.  They can bring compassion and wisdom while also allowing you to choose your response.

I hope this emotional first aid kit helps when things just feel a bit too much.

P.S. This first aid kit will hopefully help but know that this doesn’t mean you’ll always respond perfectly. So don’t use this to beat yourself up if you have an emotional hijack. I’ve worked in the area of emotional intelligence for over a decade and I still get tripped up by emotions. If fact, if you listen to my podcast episode with emotional intelligence expert Sarah Speers – we share our own experiences of navigating motherhood and the emotional rollercoaster…….and not always getting it ‘right’!

*I can’t find the origin of RAIN but I’ve discovered it through the work of Tara Brach

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