Parents: Take Care of Your Mental Health First

This year has been one for the history books, for sure.  All of this quarantining has been a foreign territory for most of us and especially for our kids.  Most of the parents I talk to have voiced their concern for their child and how their children are struggling with the emotional challenges that have been caused by the pandemic. The isolation, fears, and doubts are accompanied by irritable outbursts, not to mention the video game addiction that seems to be taking over our children! 

It's normal for most parents to become concerned for their child's mental health, although the pandemic has taken it to a whole new level.

However, the oxygen mask analogy comes into play here. As parents, it is natural to try to take care of our children, often putting our own needs in the background.  By doing that, we end up not taking care of ourselves or them.  You need to put your own mask on first or you will be no good for your kids.  We have to take time to deal with our own mental health before we can be of use to others.  

Here at The Triumph Performance Institute, we teach our student-athletes how to master the art of their inner game. One skill needed in mastering the inner game involves learning what to do when you get thrown off your game.  The inner game teaches you how to handle a disruption in your "groove" and allows you to recover quickly. 

As parents and adults, we have definitely been thrown off our game! So what can we do to cope better with the challenges this year has brought in order to role model how to deal with adversity for our kids? Well, we learn the same skill we teach our clients.  That is to:

Identify

Feel

Refocus

 

The first step is to Identify. 

Before we can change anything, we must identify what is happening and recognize that we are out of sorts, so to speak. At this point, take note of the emotions you are experiencing now. Are they feelings of doubt, fear, low confidence, isolation? 

The second step is to feel. 

This is the tough partAfter you have identified that you are struggling and experiencing some big emotions, you now need to allow yourself to feel those feelings without judging, trying to fix them, or avoiding them. 

We typically want to escape uncomfortable feelings as quickly as possible. Avoid doing this.  Feel whatever emotion arises, as uncomfortable as it is, and avoid judging those feelings as good or bad, or placing blame. Acknowledge them as if you're an objective outside observer. 

By allowing yourself to feel the emotion and not running from it, and not beating yourself up for having those feelings, the feeling will eventually fade in intensity. This happens faster with more practice.  This skill will teach you to walk into the fears rather than hide or tuck them away.  When we address our fears they go away causing our confidence to increase.

Third, learn to Refocus.

 After you have felt your feelings, you have noticed those feelings as if you are an outside observer, now take your attention to a time or a place where you felt incredible. A place where you were in the zone, on fire, and you couldn’t do anything wrong. Visualize it in your mind and feel the feelings that came from it in your body.

This is a valuable skill that can help you learn to relax quickly, no matter what life throws at you. This skill can be perfected to associate a physical anchor with the feelings of relaxation to relax instantly when your anchor is touched.

(For more information on learning this technique, click on Learning the Art of Relaxation on Command link. )

 Other things you can do to help your mental state during this time are:

  • Focus on gratitude
  • Learn and practice some form of relaxation skill.
  • Commit to doing some relaxation behavior at least one time a day.
  • Decide what you are going to do and when you will do it and write it down.
  • Add this technique to your schedule to become consistent.

It's normal to experience a wide range of emotions when we are faced with uncertainty and disruption, but supporting your mental health is more important now than ever. Be very careful not to neglect yourself while trying to help everyone else.  It's very easy to do as a parent!

Thanks for reading. 

The team at the Triumph Performance Institute

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