From the safety of the UK, it is hard to even imagine the fear, pain and tragedy that so many Ukrainians are experiencing right now. Our own problems might pale into insignificance. However, that doesn’t mean that any immediate challenges and struggle we are experiencing are not real or that our feelings are not justified.
Life, and parenting, is full of tricky times and difficult moments, and it is important that we give ourselves permission to feel all the emotions that come with them.
But even in the darkness, we can still find pockets of positivity and light.
We reached out to some of the mums in the Nourish expert community to explore just some of their top tips for finding pockets of positivity, even in tricky times. We hope you find something in this list that can bring a bit more light to your days, whatever is going on for you right now.
1. Stop scrolling (Clio Wood, mum of 2, Founder, & Breathe Wellbeing)
The information and images we consume has a significant impact on our mood. Only consume the news once a day, or at least limit your current habit. It might be worth it for your own sanity.
TIP: Set a 10-minute timer for scrolling and be strict about switching off when your time’s up.
2. Zoom in (Suzy Reading, mum of 2, Author & Wellbeing Psychologist)
Seek out anything you find awe inspiring, natural or man-made and feel how this lifts your energy. You will find some kind of beauty to appreciate, just about anywhere you are. Zoom into the present moment and get really curious about the details. Indulge in your senses and be alive to the joy available to you - whether it is your child’s dimples, your partner's laughter lines, the cosiness of your jumper or the adorably cute snore of your sleeping child. Pay close attention and filter out any extraneous thoughts or stimulation that interferes with you taking delight in this moment. Train yourself to be on the lookout for joy, beauty and aliveness, even in the very ordinary, and don’t miss an opportunity to derive pleasure from it. Let go of the past and worries about the future, and relish the peacefulness and presence of the here and now.
3. Find your gratitude (Clio Wood, mum of 2, Founder, & Breathe Wellbeing)
Gratitude is well known for its mood boosting properties. Developing a gratitude practice doesn’t need to be onerous or complicated. List three things daily that you’re grateful for in your own life. This can be big (new job!) or small (managed to get the washing done today!) but they add up to a great deal of goodness to counter the (ugh) news.
TIP: Listing is great, telling someone your list is better, writing it down is even more powerful.
4. Imbibe nature's tonic (Sara Campin, mum of 2, Life Coach & Nourish Founder)
There is a growing body of evidence that being in nature has a profound impact on our brains and our behaviour, helping us to reduce anxiety and stress, and increase our attention capacity, creativity, as well as our ability to connect with other people. Seek out opportunities to connect with nature's natural essence, beauty and awe. Drink in the details, marvel in the complex creations and raw beauty, feel grounded and alive.
5. Hit the “replay” button (Suzy Reading, mum of 2, Author & Wellbeing Psychologist)
Evoke happy memories and positive feelings by replaying a positive event or experience in your mind. You could look through old photos in your phone or discuss memories with those around you. Don’t analyse the event, just relish it. Notice any poignancy but try to focus and indulge in the positive feelings and emotions that arise.
6. Release & reframe (Dot Zacharias, mum of 3, Yoga Nidra & Sleep Coach)
Get the negative out, then reframe it. Sometimes we need to shake off the repetitive negative inner voice... "it's so hard, I'm doing a bad job, x/y/z hasn't gone well". I tend to say it out loud, then purposefully reframe the story, by asking myself, how would I describe my day from a purely positive point of view? Working with storytelling is a powerful way to change your path immediately.
7. Connect (Tamsin Williamson, mum of 2, The Parenthood Coach)
Human connection can do wonders for alleviating the mental load of life. While we can often feel stranded on our own island, it’s highly likely that someone else out there can offer some support or wisdom. Think about who is on your wavelength, whose opinion you trust, or who brings out your best, and arrange to have a chat. Getting thoughts out of your head can make you feel so much lighter, and that shared empathy and reassurance can bring a whole world of perspective, positivity and clarity to a situation.
8. Rest! (Dot Zacharias, mum of 3, Yoga Nidra & Sleep Coach)
When we are tired, our brains have a negativity bias to protect us from external threats, our guard is up. Just a 5 minutes power nap or an early night really helps me stay positive when life gets overwhelming.
9. Move! (Suzy Reading, mum of 2, Author & Wellbeing Psychologist)
One of the quickest ways to change our mood is to move our bodies! All movement has a potent mood boosting effect, so get moving to shake up those endorphins and uplift you even in moments of challenge. This could be a boogie with the kids, some star jumps or an invigorating yoga pose such as horse sequence, or maybe just some chicken wing rolls, bringing a smile to our face at the same time.
10. Embody the positive (Dot Zacharias, mum of 3, Yoga Nidra & Sleep Coach)
If we try to find even moments of positivity, but our body is in a slump, our energy will stay low. Research has shown that when we round our spines and cast our eyes downwards, it lowers subjective energy levels and makes it easier to recall negative memories. Conversely, standing upright with an elongated spine and expanded chest, makes it easier to connect with positive recollections. Imagine a lighter, more joyful situation or version of yourself. Visualise it fully and breathe into it. You will feel your body relax and lift you up.
11. Gift a smile (Sara Campin, mum of 2, Life Coach & Nourish Founder)
A simple smile, genuine or even forced, prompts the brain to produce endorphins and serotonin, causing positive emotions. When we gift a smile, it not only generates feelings of positivity within us, but this simple act of kindness and connection is contagious and the recipient often can’t help but smile back - reinforcing the positive loop for us as well.
12. Journal (Tamsin Williamson, mum of 2, The Parenthood Coach)
Getting thoughts or feelings out of our heads and into the world can be hugely therapeutic and cathartic, and journaling or free-writing is a great way to do that. Taking some time every day to check in with yourself and clear your head can mean that you start the day feeling lighter and more proactive. It doesn't have to be time consuming either - check out ‘Two Minute Mornings’, a journaling technique which uses 3 simple prompts to help you kick start your day.
13. Set mini goals & celebrate achievements (Sara Campin, mum of 2, Life Coach & Nourish Founder)
The little things all count. Even in the depths of struggle, setting ourselves little goals and then being able to tick them off and celebrate them, can create an enormous sense of satisfaction and move us forward. It might be as simple as getting dressed, showered or getting out of the house. Breaking big tasks into small, manageable chunks and celebrating the achievement of each is important for tackling things that feel overwhelming. Or when we need to push through challenging periods of time, it can give us that uplifting sense of purpose.
14. Get Creative (Clio Wood, mum of 2, Founder, & Breathe Wellbeing)
When things seem a bit ugly, why not make beautiful things yourself? It’s amazing how therapeutic crafting or art can be (with or without the kids) and you’re left with something lovely to look at at the end.
TIP: Stuck for ideas? Get Googling. Short of money? Doodling with a pen and scrap paper is a great place to start.
15. Learn Something New (Tamsin Williamson, mum of 2, The Parenthood Coach)
There’s a raft of positive feelings that accompany mastering a new skill or opening your mind to learning something new, which can provide the perfect antidote when times are challenging. Whether you get stuck into a DIY project, learn to knit, learn a new language or listen to a podcast on an interesting new subject, you are likely to experience positive feelings such as pride, achievement, inspiration, self-confidence and fulfilment which will undoubtedly lift your spirits. And the focus required will also guide your mind away from your worries and into a more uplifting space.