Acupuncture for Stressed Parents
Parenthood is a joy. To have the opportunity to see the world anew through the eyes of a child is an incredible gift. It includes joy, awe, and so much love. Parenthood is also incredibly stressful. To balance the needs of your children with your own needs, when everyone has different needs in each moment can certainly bring up frustration and anger. Finding a healthy way to release this frustration and anger from your body and mind is a gift to both yourself and your children. Acupuncture treatment poses a unique opportunity for parents to release stress and build resilience in the face of all of life's stressors.
How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture works by stimulating your body's endocrine and immune systems to clear out stress hormones and re-balance neurotransmitters and other homeostatic systems. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to shift you out of 'fight or flight' mode, and into 'relax and heal' mode. Not only does this help you feel more grounded and relaxed during the treatment, it helps you continue to feel this way at home. This means more patience, more resilience, and less feeling out of control. For parents, home life can sometimes feel like you're standing in the middle of a storm which is wreaking havoc both on your house and your internal world. Acupuncture helps you to feel instead that you're the calm in the center of the storm, which is good for you and good for everyone around you. Acupuncture can't change how wild children can be. It can change how you react, though.
In addition to the calm and balance acupuncture offers, your acupuncturist will also discuss with you simple practices that you can do throughout your day to maintain your peace of mind. Doing these will help you learn how to bring yourself back to center. Acupuncture treatment helps these practices be optimally effective, and once you integrate them into your day, they can have a profound effect on your stress levels.
The most basic of these practices involves using your breath to refocus and reset. It is recommended to do this practice multiple times throughout the day, so it can be helpful to have a reminder in place to practice it. This reminder can be something external, such as wearing a string around your wrist or setting an alarm on your phone, or it can be internal, such as committing yourself to doing the practice every time you go to the bathroom or every time your child starts crying. To begin, take three deep breaths. With each exhale, let go of tension in your body. Common places to hold tension include your jaw, shoulders, and neck. Holding tension in these places is often unconscious, and having it there can be a subconscious addition to feeling constantly stressed out, even after the event that stressed you out has already passed. Removing this physical tension can have a huge impact on your ability to stay calm and present. After you finish your three breaths, you can also add a silent reminder of what you're aiming for with this practice. Examples include "calm", "it's all going to be ok", or "don't forget the love". This may seem overly simplistic, but it can have a profound impact on your reaction to stressful situations, and act as an anchor throughout your day.
Another practice that is helpful is mindfulness. Setting aside just 20 minutes to meditate each morning or evening can be life changing. Noticing your thoughts, and bringing them back to the present moment is also an incredible practice that yields big returns. Often our minds wander to mulling over the past, worrying about the future, planning the future, or we simply find the call to pick up the smartphone irresistible. Each time you notice your mind doing anything other than being present, gently bring yourself back to the present moment. Notice what's going on around you. If there's nothing going on at all, then dwelling in the gift of silence or peace is a haven. If your kids are playing, then playing with them is something you will not regret. If you're cooking or doing something around the house, being present to this can be a form of meditation, and one that helps you feel centered and focused. There are many excellent books on the power of mindfulness in parenthood. I recommend "Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting", by Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn. I also recommend "Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children" by Thich Nhat Hanh. Both of these books offer practices for mindfulness, as well as discussions of why mindfulness can be so powerful in the realm of parenting.
It all comes back to love
One more practice that can be profound for parents (and everyone else too) is to look at how all emotions point back to love. If you look at the reason behind your frustration with your kids, you'll see that you get frustrated because you love them and want the best for them. When they (or you) don't live up to your vision of the way 'things should be', frustration arises. The same is true for all negative emotions that come up involving the people you love. The reason you get worried, anxious, or angry is because there is a person in this world whom you love so much that they're worth the world to you. And you know all the things you want for them, the way they should act to achieve what you want for them, and all the obstacles involved. Your love is so powerful that it yields hyper levels of protection, and this is the origin of all the negative feelings that show up in parenting. So to remind yourself daily that the reason you feel frustrated, angry, worried, or anxious is because you love your kids so much is a gift to both them and you. This reminder leads to greater appreciation of them, and can often lead to you using your words or actions to tell them in a positive way how much you love them. Bringing yourself back to the love and expressing it to your kids is powerful for both them and you.
You deserve it
All of these practices are very simple, and yet can be difficult if you're already overloaded with stress. Acupuncture treatment can release your stress and bring you back to a centered and grounded place. From this place, it's much easier to start doing these practices and to start to realize the benefit in them. Also, it's great to take an hour for yourself every now and then. You deserve it. And your loved ones will benefit from it as much as you do.
For more information about acupuncture, you can read About Acupuncture or How Acupuncture Works. If you're curious at how Eastern medicine differs from Western Medicine, take a look at About Eastern Medicine. You can also read about Acupuncture for Specific Symptoms and Conditions. If you have any questions, feel free to Contact Us. Or you can now Schedule an Appointment Online with Marni from Wisdom Traditions Acupuncture.
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Marni Adhikari, M.Ac, L.Ac, Dipl.Ac, is the founder and acupuncturist at Wisdom Traditions Acupuncture of Essex Junction, VT