The Calm Down Chips

RELAX! Yes, I’m yelling. But I’m not yelling at you; I’m yelling at myself. And if you fit into the category of one who can’t relax, then please and by all means gently yell at yourself too.

Relaxing is so hard for me. The definition of the word according to Webster: “making less tense or rigid; making something less severe.” There are other definitions of the word relax, such as: “to become lax, weak, or loose; to become inactive.” We’ve piled all of our preconceptions about what it means to relax into the latter meaning, and I’m convinced that we as women believe (some subconsciously) that it’s a weakness to relax.

Some of us have fully persuaded ourselves that lying down and watching our favorite show, going to get a pedicure, or indulging in one of our food guilty pleasures is relaxing. Even my daughter thought this. And this is what really got me thinking. I arrived home one night from a long night of teaching dance. I didn’t feel like fixing myself anything with any real substance in it, so I grabbed a bag of chips. Well, of course as soon as I did that both of my kids wanted some chips. My daughter says to me, pleading: “Mommy please, can I have some chips? Just a few. Just a little bit, please?” “No”, I tell her, “it’s way too late, and we’re gearing up for bedtime.” Then she urgently replies: “Mommy, but please, these chips are calm down chips. Just one will calm me down.” I didn’t reply immediately. Half of me was about to completely burst into hysterical laughter wondering where these kids think up such witty responses so fast while the other half of me was trying to figure out how, at 4, she has realized that food can serve as an emotional “calm down”. Has she seen me attempting to relax/calm down and eat at the same time?

My Angels

Fifty percent of the time, my kids look like the lovely picture you see here taken from picture day. Put together, smiling, in one piece, etc. But the other fifty percent of the time, the picture you see of the silent scream (below) are also reflective of what’s going on with them. Then, I asked myself a very serious question. Are my kids relaxed when I’m relaxed – and “fired up” and anxious when I am too? Even if I don’t say a thing, do they know that my mind is moving 100 miles per hour? And with that, can everyone feel when I’m distracted in my mind? I would argue to say that the answer is yes. People can feel when you are present with them physically but not mentally.

I am in no way suggesting that we, as moms, should take on the fact that sometimes kids are just being kids or that there won’t be times when life just gets the best of us. But what I am suggesting is that we dig a little deeper and think about what we’re thinking about. And then to think about whether or not our consumption with what’s going on in our minds affects our children and the atmosphere in our home and on our jobs. It’s terrifying for some of us for our minds to relax. We can’t even begin to put our minds on pause because we’re afraid we’ll get behind on our to-do list.

What To Do When You Feel Like This

I teach a weekly Hot Ballet class at Hot Yoga of Huntsville and I end each class like this. It takes 60 seconds, and I want you to try it with me now. Say these words in your head or out loud, sitting or lying, whichever you prefer: Relax your toes. Relax your arches in your feet, your ankles, your feet, just relax. Relax your shins, calf muscles, your knees, the backs of your knees, just relax. Relax your quadriceps, your hamstrings, your legs, just relax. Relax your pelvis, your lower back, your stomach, allowing your belly to inhale and exhale with big breaths, just relax. Relax your chest, your upper back, your shoulder blades, your shoulders, just relax. Relax your triceps, your biceps, your elbows, your forearms, your wrists, your hands, your palms, your fingertips, just relax. Relax your neck, your chin, your lips, your nose, your cheeks, just relax. Relax your eyelids, your eyes, your temples, your forehead, just relax. Relax your mind. Relax your mind. Relax your mind. Relax your mind. Relax your mind.

And exhale. I feel more relaxed even as I’m typing. I’ve replaced my “calm down chips” with real relaxation. The state of being relaxed starts in your mind. Find a space at least once a day where you can clear your thoughts and to-do list with a relaxed atmosphere; a space that appreciates you for where you are right in that very moment. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the rest of you day goes, how easily you mark off your to-do lists, how productive you are, and how your children, co-workers, and families see the real you: the woman who can conquer it all with an attitude that makes her admirable. That’s the woman you want to become and the woman you want other people to see.