You think everything is in place: kids are getting dressed, lunches are packed, the baby sitter has arranged to meet the kids after school and take them to the library to prepare for a project and the phone rings. You hear the superintendent’s booming voice announcing that school will not open until 11:00 AM because of the recent snow fall. Now what? Your wife left earlier for a meeting with her boss and you are booked on a 10 AM flight to see your most important client.
Your mind starts racing as you try to think of what to do. You can‘t leave the kids alone and who can drive them for the school opening at 11:00? You call your neighbor and the phone rings and rings but no one picks up. The baby sitter apologizes profusely but she has a statistics exam this morning. As you start to dial your mother-in-law, you remember she is visiting her daughter who lives three hours away.
You start to feel your heart racing as that old whip lash injury and the tense neck start acting up. Your mind is racing faster as you try to think of solutions. Or you collapse and say, “I quit, this is too much.”
Neither solution works.
But research demonstrates that there are some very effective strategies you can use when you feel overwhelmed by the too muchness of life in a two career family. Train yourself to tune into your body. Feel your feet on the ground. Scan the room and let your eyes rest on something. That will get you away from the racing thoughts and back into your body and you’ll notice a deep breath starting in your chest.
Sensations you may notice are muscle tension, feelings of heat or cold in your body, increased pressure or expansion, trembling. You may feel angry or want to run away, all normal responses to stress.
Training yourself to tune into your bodily sensations is the most effective way of responding to challenging situations. It will reduce stress and you’ll see how your body can help you return to both mental and physical equilibrium.
Body wisdom shines through and more creative solutions occur as you look up at the paper your wife has posted above the phone. “For emergencies, call Lillie Smith – great pinch hit sitter.” You dial the number and Lilly picks up on the first ring. “Happy to stop over and drive the kids to school.” This time you feel the sheer pleasure of your body as that deep breath takes over and fills you with a sense of relief. Try it. It works like a charm.