Make Room to Feel What’s Real

When we hold feelings for a long time, it can manifest as bodily discomfort

Over Memorial Day weekend, the three of us went upstate for a few days of gardening, cooking, and family time … and for me, some much needed downtime.

Like most of the moms I know, I’m in a pretty constant juggle of caregiving, home maintenance, and working on my business most other free moments. What lacks are moments of quiet, and I admittedly have a very hard time giving them to myself.

When I imagine moments of solitude, I immediately associate a sense of calm, serenity, and thus a feeling of happiness. But I noticed on this particular weekend that when I forced myself to slow down, that’s not exactly what I felt.

What I experienced was a general sense of malaise, a dark cloud hovering over me, and when I let that feeling settle even more, I even felt the need to cry. I asked myself, what is going on? Nothing is wrong with my life, why am I crying? And I even began to judge the sadness I was feeling as a waste of a perfectly good weekend!

As I let the sadness unfold, I began to realize we all hold “stuff” inside that when we slow down, naturally rises to the surface.

As a parent, it can feel impossible to find the time and space to feel. There’s always someone else to focus on and care for. But is it possible that we are the ones that need it most? And that with all of this running, doing, creating, and caregiving, sometimes we just need a good cry?

Thinking about this important question, I’ve come to a few conclusions about being humans and therefore emotional beings.

Holding and Releasing Emotions

We hold emotions in our body for a very long time, and sometimes when they come out, we don’t know where they come from. But they do come from somewhere, and they are valid. Sometimes we need to just release them.

When our body holds feelings for a long time, it can manifest into bodily discomfort, headaches, shoulder knots, and so on. When we slow down, emotions can release. It may be unidentifiable in terms of where these emotions originally come from, but we feel so much lighter and free when they have been given room to release.

Though emotions may be hard to identify (Why am I sad? Why do I feel angry?), often when we give ourselves time to feel and think, we actually do know where the sadness comes from.

For me, I realized that when I do slow down, I acknowledge how much I truly miss my father who has passed away. It’s easier for me to move quickly and not feel it so acutely, but it’s healthy for me to periodically go there.

Emotions Are Normal

As parents, we are almost always focusing on someone else. When we slow down to focus on ourselves, we feel a lot. And this is normal.

We don’t have to feel judgmental of ourselves, instead let’s give ourselves a pat on the back for doing it all and for having the strength to feel our feelings in a real way.

One more thought for parents—do we ever miss our old life? Not that we would exchange our current one for all the tea in China, but don’t we sometimes miss the carefree, relaxed way we used to live pre-children? If the answer is yes, I really think it’s okay to admit it.

In our down moments, we may feel sadness and longing for a more youthful time in our lives. When we admit it, feel it, and have our moment with it, generally, we jump right into gratitude when our little one wakes up from a nap and jumps into our laps with kisses and hugs.

If we expect ourselves to be unemotional robots, we will be sorely disappointed, and usually our emotions will catch up with us and remind us of what’s really going on.

So rather than fighting against what is, let it be what it is! You will feel more balanced, honest, and happy, I guarantee it.

Randi Zinn is the founder of Beyond Mom and She encourages moms to cultivate a life that embraces the gifts of motherhood as well as their skills as businesswomen, thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs.