How to Press the Pause Button (Whilst you’re with your kids!)

It’s a fact that to achieve better clarity, energy, greater inner peace and calm and have a body we’re confident in, we must find ways to press the pause button…..regularly!

This can feel quite daunting for many of us mums who already struggle to grab 5 mins here and there, or drink a cuppa in peace, or go to the loo without a little voice saying ‘Mum, are you doing a wee or a poo’?

So we need to get creative! A big part of this creativity comes from a shift in our mindest – understanding the ‘why’ and getting creative with the ‘how’.

When I talk about pressing the pause button, essentially I mean activating our parasympathetic nervous system. Which quite simply means ‘stress off’. This is switching our emotional state from ‘fight or flight’ to ‘rest and digest’ and if we consider we have 24 hrs in a day – 12 hours stress on, 12 hours stress off is the dream! This includes sleep, and remember, stress is about perception and what’s going on inside our bodies. AND, it’s about progress, not perfection!

In this relaxed state, our bodies absorb the nutrients from our food needed for a healthy body and happy mind. Our gut and immune system do its housekeeping to keep us safe and protected and in parasympathetic mode, we can access our magic and resources needed to create lifechanging action!

However, I understand it’s not always possible to completely stop what we’re doing. So here are some suggestions of how to push the pause button, and activate our rest, repair and rebalance mode without needing to book yourself into a yoga retreat for two weeks (although that would be amazing).

Rest and DigestBreathe, sit and chew your food. I know how unpredictable meal times can be with kids, however, one of our most powerful tools in activating parasympathetic mode is supporting our digestion and nurturing our gut function! Afterall our parasympathetic nervous system is largely controlled by our enteric nervous system (our gut-brain connection). It’s true that supporting our gut health has the biggest impact on our stress on/stress off balance! So prioritising meals times, focusing on not just what you eat but how and chewing well can help us push pause without having to do much at all.

Nature
As Mothers, the closest we can live to nature the better – our Mother nature is our soul medicine. It has been well researched that regular interaction with nature improves our vagus nerve tone (gut-brain connection) and puts us in parasympathetic mode. You don’t need to live in the woods to access nature. Time in the garden, a walk by local green space, time by a river or water if you can, the seaside (proper soul food), cooking and baking (food is natures medicine), planting window boxes, starting a butterfly garden in your garden, barefoot walking on a grassy space. And don’t forget the power of house plants.

Deep or conscious breathing – Breathing is a mum’s best friend when it comes to accessing a place of instant calm and not biting the head off your child or partner. We carry our lungs everywhere and our breath is one of our greatest but most underused tools when it comes to relaxation. I think as Mothers, we spend way to much time holding our breath!
Breathing exercises can also increase vagal tone and improve digestive motility (often what goes out of whack in IBS – constipation and diarrhoea). Check out my favourite breathing techniques to get started: https://chriskresser.com/my-top-5-breathing-exercises-for-stress-relief/

Movement & Yoga Yoga increases vagal activity and induces ‘stress off’ by combining aspects of exercise, meditation, and deep breathing. I understand doing yoga with your kids may not be quite the same experience but luckily fun, laughter and playfulness work on our pause button as well. We just need to approach it with a different mindset and different expectations than we would our Thursday night date with Yoga with Adriene! Love her!

Raise your vibe – this is anything that fills your heart up and sets your soul on fire! Research indicates that music can reduce pain and anxiety, reduce cortisol, and increase levels of oxytocin (connection hormone). This is your green light to bring out your Now 27 album, and get your 90’s groove on. Have a home disco, play games, be silly, let loose and remember, the more you embarrass your kids, the better!

Tea Break – we all need a tea break but a little hack here is to be mindful of your beverage. If you feel stressed or burnt out or feel like your ‘mother-load’ is too heavy and overwhelming, then you don’t want to be adding caffeine to the fire. By all means, have your morning or lunchtime coffee (I am all bout the coffee) but, think drinks that support ‘stress off’ – herbal teas are fab. I’m a big camomile fan or decaf green tea, or turmeric or ginger tea. Mint tea can be super calming on our digestive system too!

Creativity – Kids love to draw, paint, stick, make, paste, glue, assemble etc. etc. so jump on that arty wagon! I drew the whole inflammatory cascade one morning while Bonnie was painting her hands black! You don’t have to be an artist to immerse yourself into something creative. Find something you enjoy, adult colouring book, making jewellery, painting, beads, cutting etc. When we’re creating we are fully immersed! Our whole self – mind, body, heart and spirit. There is no room for the mental chatter or our mind to rule the show, it’s too busy focusing on putting a tiny bead on a tiny string (me this morning). We are colourful and present. The perfect pause!

Pressing the pause button isn’t always easy, we forget and get wrapped up in the ‘need to-dos’! For me, it’s something I will always be consciously working on and accept I won’t always get it right. To help me, I like to remind myself of the aspects of my health that are currently important to me – energy, weight loss, balance and emotional regulation and then ask myself regularly, ‘What do I need right now?’

When we give ourselves what we need, we achieve and succeed!  Cheesy but true!

Be kind, patient and compassionate towards yourself, and do your best to create space and opportunity within the beautiful, messy magic that is motherhood. Not only are we doing it for ourselves, but we are also teaching our little ones how to push their pause button. I think that is one of our greatest life skills right now.

Let me know what resonates the most with you? What’s your fave pause button? x

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