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Episode 37- Mindfulness in Moments of Stress

Updated: 2 days ago


Stressed woman pinching nose with eyes closed


Intro:

Welcome to the "Wellness in Every Season" podcast, where we embark on a transformative journey towards achieving total wellness, even in the midst of overwhelming moments. I'm your host, Autumn Carter, and I'm thrilled to have you here.


This podcast is a sanctuary for all mothers out there, and we extend a warm invitation to anyone seeking guidance and inspiration. We believe in fostering an inclusive community where we learn and grow together, supporting each other during life's challenging transitions.


Join us as we step out of survival mode and discover the path to thriving, embracing wellness in every season of motherhood. From sleepless nights to new beginnings, we'll explore practical strategies, share heartfelt stories, and uncover the transformative power of self-care and self-love.


Together, we'll unlock the wisdom, strength, and resilience within ourselves, reminding one another that we're never alone on this beautiful, yet demanding, journey. It's time to prioritize your well-being and reclaim your joy, one season at a time.


[Music]

EPISODE INTRO

Welcome to Episode 36 of Wellness in Every Season,titled,”Navigating the Storm: Mindfulness in Moments of Stress" where we will embark on a journey through the unpredictable landscape of stress and the sanctuary of mindfulness. We'll delve deep into the analogy of stress being akin to rain, understanding its triggers and our reactions to them. As we navigate the world of motherhood and its unique stressors, listeners will gain insights into the power of visualization, specifically viewing negative thoughts as transient leaves carried by the wind or flowing in a river. Highlighting the importance of grounding oneself amidst life's whirlwinds, we'll introduce the "5-4-3-2-1" technique, a tactile method for achieving mindfulness on the go. Wrapping up, we'll extend an invitation for self-reflection with ten coaching questions, empowering listeners to anchor their discoveries and take actionable steps in their personal mindfulness journey. Join us for a transformative exploration of harnessing calm amidst life's inevitable storms.


Key point #1:

Amid the canvas of a suburban town, as dawn breaks and paints the sky with gentle shades of lavender and rose, there's the story of Emma. A silhouette of a woman, hair tousled from the remnants of last night's dreams, stands by the window, her eyes tracing the golden horizon, deep in thought. The clock's persistent ticking nudges her back to reality.


Emma's a mother of two – a lively seven-year-old who dreams with his eyes wide open and a toddler, her little bundle of unpredictability. The cacophony of morning routines is a familiar tune in her home. From ensuring her children are fed and dressed for school, to managing her own responsibilities, every day is a juggling act. The weight of societal expectations often sits heavily on her shoulders. The world expects her to wear multiple hats, to be the ideal mother, partner, daughter, and friend, and to carry all roles with a grace that hides the strain beneath.


Financial pressures often loom like dark clouds. The choice between buying a much-needed appliance or saving for her eldest's school trip isn't a decision to be taken lightly. Throw in the constant dance of maintaining relationships, with her partner, friends, and herself, and you find a tapestry woven with threads of potential stressors.


However, amidst these whirlwinds of responsibilities, what remains unseen are the internal battles Emma faces. The quest for personal identity, the moments she yearns for a slice of her past life, and the guilt that occasionally grips her when she longs for a moment of solitude. Add to this the endless stream of advice, both sought and unsolicited, from well-meaning family and friends, and you have a perfect storm.


And yet, as the sun climbs higher, casting away the morning's shadows, Emma's resilience shines. Because, like many mothers, she's learned to find pockets of peace, moments of solace, and strategies to manage and mitigate the stress that life, in all its chaotic beauty, brings.


So, dear listener, as we unfold Emma's story and many others, we dive deep into understanding the myriad ways mothers experience stress and, more importantly, how they can navigate through it.

Key point #2:

In the vast landscape of human emotions, stress is like a river that meanders through our lives, sometimes calm and at other times raging. Stress, much like water, is an intrinsic part of our existence. It reminds us of our vulnerabilities, pushes our boundaries, and often serves as a catalyst for growth. But when unchecked, it can erode our well-being, like water wearing away at a rock.


The importance of managing stress lies not just in curbing its negative impacts but in recognizing its potential as a tool for self-awareness and transformation. When we listen to the whispers of stress, we learn more about our desires, fears, and boundaries. By understanding and addressing the root causes of our stress, we can turn this seemingly negative force into a positive one, guiding us towards a more balanced and fulfilling life.


Today's podcast topic couldn't be more timely. As seasons change, so does the ebb and flow of our internal tides. I've been on a personal journey of introspection, re-evaluating the contours of my life and the stressors that shape them. And here's the revelation: while certain external factors are beyond our control, much of our stress is derived from our perceptions, expectations, and the weight we give to certain situations. We hold the power to choose which battles to fight, which pressures to yield to, and which to release into the winds of change.


Imagine a life where we cultivate a garden of serenity in our minds, where we decide which seeds to water and which weeds to uproot. By acknowledging that we have a choice in what stresses us out, we reclaim our power and agency. We become architects of our emotional landscape, sculpting a sanctuary of peace amidst the chaos of the world.


So, as we delve into this conversation, let us remember that the journey to managing stress is not about eliminating it, but about understanding, embracing, and transforming it. It's about learning to dance in the rain rather than just waiting for the storm to pass.


[Music]

Segment: Mindfulness Practice:

In the quiet corner of your mind, imagine a grand, spiraling staircase. Each step, carved from stone, holds within it centuries of wisdom and resilience. This staircase is your pathway to mindfulness, to a higher plane of clarity and tranquility, away from the hustle and turmoil of life's stresses.


As you stand at the base, take a deep, grounding breath. Feel the earth beneath your feet, offering its unwavering support. The journey ahead is one of ascent, of moving upwards and away from the weight of your worries.


Begin to climb, and with each step, visualize the stresses of your life. Maybe it's the pressure of work, the demands of family, or the echoes of past decisions. As these thoughts present themselves, don't hold onto them. Like leaves caught in a gentle breeze, acknowledge them and then let them drift away. They are not anchors, but mere moments in the vast timeline of your existence.


With every step upwards, feel the burden lightening. The staircase offers a unique perspective; from this vantage point, you can see your stresses not as towering mountains but as rolling hills, significant yet surmountable.


Halfway up, pause. Here, in this space of transition, allow yourself to reflect from a higher plane. Observe the situations and challenges that have been causing you distress. But instead of diving into the storm of emotions, remain detached. Like a bird soaring above the landscape, see the bigger picture without getting entangled in the minute details. Recognize patterns, understand triggers, but refrain from passing judgment or adding extra layers of emotion. This is your moment of clarity, your time to comprehend without being consumed.


Continue your ascent. With each step, your proximity to the world below diminishes, and so does the pull of its stresses. The higher you climb, the more serene and expansive the view becomes. The noises of your worries become distant murmurs, and a gentle stillness envelops you.


Once you reach the summit, take a moment to bask in the serenity. This heightened plane, distant from the clamor of daily stressors, is your sanctuary of peace. Here, thoughts float by like clouds, ever-changing, never permanent. The beauty of this space is the realization that while you can't control every external stressor, you can choose how you respond, how you internalize, and how you let go.


When you're ready, start your descent, but carry with you the tranquility and perspective you've gained. Remember, this staircase is always here for you, a tool for mindfulness, a space to retreat and recenter. Whenever stress begins to mount, close your eyes, find your staircase, and climb. The journey upwards is not an escape but a pathway to understanding, acceptance, and peace.

[Music]


Key point #3:

Stress, in many ways, is like rain. It can come from external sources, like a brewing storm, but how wet we get, how deeply it penetrates our being, often depends on our internal environment and our reactions to it. Stress triggers are the clouds, and our emotions and negative thoughts can either be the umbrella shielding us or the conduit that amplifies the downpour.


Within the realm of motherhood, this meteorological metaphor finds particular resonance. Mothers face a unique constellation of triggers: the sleepless nights with a newborn, the perpetual balancing act between work and home, societal pressures that dictate how a 'perfect' mother should behave, and the ever-present self-doubt. Questions like "Am I doing enough?", "Am I a good mother?", or "Why can't I balance it all like she does?" are like gusts of wind, intensifying the storm of stress.


Yet, every individual, not just mothers, has their own set of challenges that contribute to their storm, be it financial concerns, health issues, or sudden life changes. These events, coupled with the internal narrative we craft, shape the intensity of our emotional rain. For instance, facing financial difficulties might be the storm cloud, but the inner voice saying, "I always mess things up" or "Why does this always happen to me?" becomes the pouring rain.


Visualize these negative thoughts as leaves, some caught in a whirlwind, others drifting on a river. They come into view, stir emotions, but then continue on their way. The essence of managing stress is to observe these leaves, acknowledging their presence, but refraining from clutching onto them.


When negativity threatens to drench you, take a moment to pause and breathe. Ground yourself in the positive affirmations of your journey, whether it's the love you've poured into nurturing a child or the resilience you've displayed in life's battles. Challenge the validity of these fleeting negative thoughts and allow them to drift away, paving the way for nurturing and constructive reflections.


A cornerstone in navigating these turbulent waters is self-compassion. Every journey, be it of motherhood or life's broader path, is individual and unique. By fostering a compassionate and understanding relationship with oneself, one can tip the balance from self-criticism to self-support.


Ultimately, awareness and choice steer the ship through this storm. By understanding our triggers and responses, we chart our own course. While life's events may be beyond our control, our narrative remains in our hands. It's a dance where the most empowering step is to let the negative self-talk wash over us, leaving us refreshed and ready to embrace the light of hope and positivity.


[Music]

AD

Moms, I want you to imagine something for a moment. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and envision this: You're standing at the crossroads of dreams and duty. You're not just surviving each day, juggling chores and kids, but thriving in a life where your dreams aren't sidelined—they're part of your daily reality.


Can you feel that knot of guilt in your stomach start to loosen? It's that fear of losing yourself to endless days of diapers and dishes. It's the struggle to balance your own dreams with the demands of motherhood. It's the constant juggling act that often leaves you feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated.


But here's the thing, I've been right where you are. I understand those emotions, those daily challenges, and the longing for something more. I've found a way out, a path that allows you to be the incredible mom you are while pursuing your dreams.


And guess what? I've helped other moms do the same, and they've achieved amazing results. Now, I'm here to guide you on this transformative journey.


As we step into a new school year, I have some exciting news for you. Three coaching spots have just opened up, and they're waiting for moms like you who are ready to reclaim their true selves, balance their lives, and fulfill their dreams.


Are you ready for this transformation? It's your time to shine. Sign up online at WellnessInEverySeason.com/contactus for a free 60-minute coaching call.

[Music]


Key point #4:

Imagine standing by the edge of a serene forest, where nature plays out its timeless symphony. Trees sway, and as they do, leaves detach and begin their descent. These leaves symbolize our thoughts—some spiral wildly in a gust of wind, representing our most chaotic and negative ruminations, while others float gently down the stream, akin to our calmer, more grounded reflections.


Visualizing negative thoughts as leaves is a powerful exercise in detachment. Just as we wouldn't chase every leaf in a forest, we shouldn't cling to every thought in our mind. Some thoughts, much like the leaves caught in a whirlwind, are tumultuous and erratic. They might momentarily capture our attention with their frenzy but remember, their nature is transient. They'll soon be replaced by another, and then another, in the ceaseless dance of the mind.


Others, the ones drifting on the river, are the thoughts that we often want to hold onto, be it a cherished memory or a moment of clarity. Yet, even these, given time, will drift out of our immediate view, reminding us of the impermanent nature of all things.


When enveloped in a storm of negative thoughts, visualize this forest. See the leaves and recognize them for what they are: temporary, ever-changing fragments of a larger, ever-evolving landscape. Breathe deeply, drawing in the fresh forest air, and with each exhale, release the need to control or cling to these leaves. Instead, ground yourself in the solid earth beneath your feet, the unwavering support it offers. This grounding is akin to the foundational truths of your life—the love you've given and received, the challenges you've overcome, and the growth you've achieved.


Confront these swirling leaves of negativity. Ask them, "Are you a true reflection of my reality? Or just a fleeting shadow of doubt?" By challenging their validity, you reclaim the power they hold over you. And as you release them, you clear the path for leaves that shimmer with hope, positivity, and constructive energy, allowing them to find their place in your heart and mind.


Through this practice, not only do you manage stress but also cultivate an inner sanctuary, where even in the midst of life's fiercest storms, you find a space of tranquility, resilience, and unwavering strength.


Key point #5:

Incorporating the visualization of negative thoughts as leaves, and subsequently managing stress through this technique, can be likened to nurturing a sapling into a sturdy tree. It requires consistent care, patience, and time. Here’s how to cultivate this practice into a daily habit:


Start Small and Set Intentions: Like any new endeavor, it's essential to begin with manageable expectations. Dedicate just a few minutes daily, perhaps as you wake or before you sleep, to this visualization practice. Setting a clear intention reinforces commitment. It could be as simple as, "I wish to have a clearer mind," or "I want to reduce the weight of my negative thoughts."


Consistent Timing: Our minds thrive on routine. By allocating a specific time each day for this practice, be it post-breakfast or right after your evening shower, you’re signaling to your brain that this is an essential, non-negotiable part of your day.


Create a Comfortable Space: While this visualization can be done anywhere, creating a dedicated, comfortable space can enhance the experience. It might be a cozy corner of your bedroom with a cushion, surrounded by soft lighting, or perhaps an outdoor nook in your garden.


Engage All Your Senses: To make the visualization more profound, try to engage all your senses. Hear the rustling of the leaves, feel the cool breeze, and smell the earthy aroma of the forest. Over time, this multisensory engagement can help anchor the practice in your mind, making it more intuitive and effective.


Journaling: After each session, jot down your feelings and experiences in a journal. It serves as a tangible record of your journey, allowing you to see your progress, identify patterns, and refine your approach.


Gentle Reminders: In our bustling lives, even the most well-intentioned habits can get sidelined. Use technology to your advantage. Set daily reminders on your phone or stick post-it notes in visible areas around your home.


Seek Community: Sharing your journey can be a powerful motivator. Consider joining a mindfulness or meditation group, either locally or online. Sharing experiences, challenges, and milestones with like-minded individuals can provide encouragement and fresh perspectives.


Practice Compassion and Patience: There will be days when the visualization feels challenging, and the leaves of negativity seem unrelenting. On these days, extend compassion to yourself. Understand that the journey to forming a habit, especially one that delves deep into the mind, is not linear. There will be peaks and troughs. Celebrate the peaks and navigate the troughs with patience.


Revisit and Reflect: Every few weeks, take a moment to reflect on the practice. Is the timing right? Is the chosen space conducive? Are there any modifications you can make to enhance the experience?


As days turn into weeks and weeks into months, you’ll find that this practice starts weaving itself into the very fabric of your daily life. The once deliberate act of visualizing negative thoughts as leaves becomes an instinctive response to stressors. The transformation doesn't happen overnight, but with dedication, patience, and consistent practice, this visualization technique can become a natural refuge, offering solace and clarity amid life's complexities.


[Music]

Lifehack segment:

Engaging in mindfulness doesn't always require long sessions of meditation or a quiet room. For those constantly on the move, integrating mindfulness into daily life can be both simple and transformative. Here's a lifehack to help you start a self-guided mindfulness practice on the go:


Mindful Anchoring with the "5-4-3-2-1" Technique:


The "5-4-3-2-1" technique is a grounding exercise that can be done anywhere and anytime you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or just want a moment of clarity. It utilizes all five senses to connect you with the present.


Here's how it works:


5 - Look: Identify five things you can see around you. It could be a cloud in the sky, a passing car, a tree swaying in the wind, a person walking by, or a building in the distance.


4 - Feel: Touch four objects near you. It could be the fabric of your clothing, the cool surface of a table, the warmth of a mug, or the breeze on your face.


3 - Listen: Identify three sounds. Maybe it's the distant hum of traffic, the chirping of birds, or the chatter of people around you.


2 - Smell: Recognize two scents. If you're indoors, perhaps it's the smell of a book or a cup of coffee. If you're outside, maybe the aroma of freshly cut grass or the scent of blooming flowers.


1 - Taste: Identify one taste. You can carry a small pack of mints, gum, or even a piece of chocolate. Take a moment to savor the taste, noticing its intricacies and how it changes.


The beauty of this technique is its versatility. It can be done while waiting in line, during a quick break at work, while commuting, or even in a bustling cafe. It's a quick yet effective way to root yourself in the present moment, offering a brief respite from the rush and serving as a reminder that mindfulness is accessible, no matter where you are or how busy your day might be.


[Music]


Key point #6:

When stress starts to grip you, it often feels like an unexpected wave crashing upon the shore. In these tumultuous moments, employing the visualization technique can serve as a lighthouse, guiding you safely through the storm. Here’s how to harness this practice precisely when you feel stress beginning to trigger you:


Acknowledge the Feeling: The first step in addressing stress is to recognize it without judgment. Denying or suppressing it only gives it more power. Accept its presence, much like you would acknowledge the arrival of a cloud before a storm. Think, "I am feeling stressed right now," or "I recognize this sensation."


Find a Moment of Pause: The instinctive reaction to stress is often to react immediately, either by succumbing to the emotion or trying to push it away. Instead, pause. This doesn't mean you need to halt everything you're doing, but mentally, take a brief moment to ground yourself. This can be hard when in the thick of things, but I found slowing my thoughts makes me act faster when I need to move faster because I can plan out several steps ahead.


Close Your Eyes and Breathe: If the situation permits, close your eyes. Focus on your breathing, even if it’s just for a few cycles. Feel the inhalation, the brief pause, and then the exhalation. This simple act centers you, creating a small buffer between the trigger and your reaction.


Invoke the Visualization: Picture the serene forest and the leaves representing your thoughts. As the stressful thought or emotion emerges, see it as a leaf—either caught in a gust of wind or floating on a river. Remind yourself that, like the leaf, this feeling or thought is transient. It's here now, but it will pass.


Challenge the Thought: As you visualize the leaf, ask yourself: "Is this thought absolute truth or a fleeting feeling?" "Is my reaction proportionate to the situation?" By posing these questions, you begin to detach from the immediacy of the emotion, allowing for a more measured response.


Return to the Present: Once you’ve visualized the leaf drifting away, gently bring your focus back to the present moment. Feel the ground beneath you, listen to the sounds around you, and take a deep, grounding breath.


Practice Compassion: It’s crucial to remind yourself that feeling stress is a natural human response. Extend compassion to yourself, knowing that you're doing your best in that moment. Over time, with consistent practice, you'll find that the time between the stress trigger and your utilization of this visualization will shorten, making it an almost immediate refuge.


Reflect and Plan: After the immediate stress has subsided, take a moment later in the day to reflect. What was the trigger? How did the visualization help? Is there anything you'd do differently next time? By understanding your triggers and responses better, you can further refine the technique to suit your unique needs.


Incorporating this visualization technique during moments of acute stress can serve as a transformative tool, not only helping you navigate the immediate situation with grace but also building long-term resilience. Over time, as this practice becomes second nature, you'll find that you’re not just reacting to stress but proactively managing and mitigating its impact on your well-being.



[Music]

Segment: Coaching Questions

Having explored the invaluable technique of the "5-4-3-2-1" method, a beautiful bridge between the bustling outer world and our inner sanctuary, we realize that mindfulness is not a distant island but an accessible oasis within our everyday landscape. But, as with any journey, sometimes we need a compass to guide our path and deepen our understanding. And in the realm of introspection, the right questions can serve as that compass. To further navigate the vast seas of mindfulness and self-awareness we've touched upon, let's delve into ten coaching questions that can illuminate our journey, helping us anchor our discoveries and chart the next steps forward.



1. **Reflecting on Stress**: When you think about the 'leaves of negativity' in your life, which thoughts or situations consistently appear? How do they impact your emotional well-being?


2. **Awareness of Triggers**: Can you identify a recent moment when stress began to trigger you? What sensations, thoughts, or emotions signaled its onset?


3. **Mindful Moments**: How often do you find moments of pause in your daily routine? Can you recall a time when the "5-4-3-2-1" technique might have been beneficial?


4. **Visualization Efficacy**: When you visualize negative thoughts as leaves, which thoughts tend to swirl in the whirlwind and which ones gently float away?


5. **Embracing the Present**: How connected do you feel to the present moment on a typical day? Are there specific situations where you feel especially detached?


6. **Self-compassion Check**: How would you rate your level of self-compassion on a scale from 1 to 10? What thoughts or beliefs influence this rating?


7. **Challenging Thoughts**: What is one negative thought you often hold onto? How might you challenge its validity the next time it arises?


8. **Anchoring in Positivity**: Can you recall a recent achievement or moment of joy? How can you use this memory as an anchor during challenging times?


9. **Growth and Reflection**: How has your understanding of stress and mindfulness evolved during our discussion? Are there any insights that particularly resonated with you?


10. **Moving Forward**: Based on our exploration, what is one actionable step you're willing to commit to this week to enhance your mindfulness practice and better manage stress?



CLOSING REMARKS & EPISODE SUMMARY

Episode summary:

Today we journeyed together through the ever-evolving landscape of stress, exploring its many facets and the sanctuary mindfulness offers. Drawing from the poignant metaphor of stress as rain, we unveiled how our reactions to life's uncertainties either amplify or shield us from emotional downpours. Diving deeper into the unique challenges of motherhood, we reflected on the myriad pressures and internal dialogues that often weigh heavily on the maternal heart. The transformative "5-4-3-2-1" technique was introduced as a grounding practice, enabling listeners to find mindfulness amidst the everyday hustle. By visualizing negative thoughts as transient leaves in a forest of emotions, listeners gained a tool to help them detach from these fleeting stressors. To facilitate introspection, we presented ten coaching questions, encouraging listeners to connect deeper with the concepts discussed and apply them in their daily lives.

As we look forward to Episode 37, we're excited to dive into the concept of "Fair Play." We'll be discussing the crucial role it plays in ensuring a balanced division of household and childcare responsibilities within couples. With the guidance of Kate Engler, a seasoned couples therapist you might recall from Episode 22, we'll explore how achieving equitable labor can lead to freeing mental bandwidth, thereby unlocking invaluable moments for self-care and personal growth. Join us as we delve into fostering harmony in shared responsibilities and enhancing holistic well-being.


[Music]

Outro:

Thank you for joining us on this week's refreshing wellness discussion. I'm Autumn Carter, your guide through the seasons of motherhood, and I hope you found inspiration and valuable insights during our time together.


If you resonate with the topics we explored today and want to continue your wellness journey, I invite you to follow me on Instagram at Moms Wellness in Every Season. There, you'll discover a wealth of ongoing wellness tips specifically curated for moms like you.


Sharing our podcast with others is an act of caring, and I invite you to spread the word by sharing, subscribing, and leaving a review wherever you enjoy your podcasts. Your support is deeply valuable to us and enables us to reach more mothers who are seeking transformation and empowerment.


If you have a specific topic you'd like us to cover in more detail or if you're interested in a free coaching consultation, don't hesitate to reach out. You can send me a direct message on Instagram or visit my website, wellnessineveryseason.com, to send an email. I'm here to support you on your wellness journey.


Thank you again for being a part of our vibrant community. I'm genuinely excited to connect with you, hear your stories, and continue this important discussion in the weeks to come.


Until next time, remember to prioritize your well-being, embrace every season with grace, and always strive for wellness in every aspect of your motherhood journey. Take care, and I can't wait to catch up with you soon.



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