We all experience frustration in motherhood. As explained by Brené Brown in her book “Atlas of the Heart”, frustration occurs when something that feels out of our control is preventing us from achieving our desired outcome. We don’t think that we can fix the situation.
You might notice that sometimes you feel anger when your desired outcome is blocked. The difference is that when we feel anger, there is an underlying belief that we can do something about the situation.
Recently, I spoke to Wellbeing and Empowerment Coach, Maud Eeckman, about how we can manage the frustrations that occur in daily life.
Maud had a moment in motherhood when she realised that the frustration she was experiencing at work and at home was getting the better of her and impacting her ability to be the mother she wanted to be. So, she started to do some internal work and worked with a coach to equip herself to manage the inevitable frustrations of life better. She learned yoga and started utilising mindset tools that together had an undeniable impact on her life. She found she felt so much better and was so much more grounded.
Maud continues to use the movement and mindset tools she learned on a daily basis, and now also teaches them to her clients. She generously shared them with the More to Mum community, in a live session inside my Facebook group for mums. If you’d like to watch the session, head to my group. Otherwise, read on and I will share them with you here.
These 5 tools will help you feel more stable and grounded so that you can deal with the frustrations of life with more ease. It’s not about getting rid of the frustrations. That’s not possible. Instead, we can embrace and deal with them.
1. Notice your emotions
You can’t change something you are not aware of so the first step is creating awareness of when you feel frustrated.
You can do this by noticing in the moment, or by reflecting afterward. Journalling is a great, researched-backed, way to become more aware of your emotions. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated. When you have a few minutes in the day or at the end of the day, grab a notebook or your phone and reflect on what worked well and what didn’t that day. Write whatever comes to mind about these. When we do this, we engage the feeling part of our brains and let things come to the surface that wouldn’t have otherwise.
If rumination over your frustrations makes it hard for you to get to sleep, journaling is very effective at decreasing this.
2. Accept your emotions
Whatever you are feeling is valid. We were raised to believe that our negative emotions were bad, but every emotion is valid and has something to tell us. We don’t need to suppress or beat ourselves up for feeling frustrated. Rather we can accept the emotion, knowing that it serves a purpose, even if it is uncomfortable.
Accepting our emotions is one way of being kinder to ourselves, and as explained by Dr. David Hamilton, when we are kind to ourselves, studies show that our brains release oxytocin (the kindness hormone) which parks on the lining of your blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow, so your heart doesn’t have to work so hard. In this way, accepting your emotions supports your emotional and physical wellbeing.
3. Explore your emotions
Once you are aware of and have accepted your emotions, then it’s time to get curious. Ask yourself, what is this feeling of frustration telling me?
This can be done in the moment of frustration or as soon as possible. You may need to intentionally create space for this, especially if you are not used to paying attention to what is happening within you.
Maud explained how she likes to take 2 minutes to close her eyes and place her hand on her heart. She starts by observing her breath, then moves to notice how she feels. You might also like to notice any tension you feel in your body, such as in your jaw, shoulders or tummy, before softening those areas intentionally. This is a form of productive rest.
You might even just start by having a cup of tea or coffee without your phone and spending a few minutes reflecting on how you feel.
If you try this and your brain doesn’t stop, know that this is totally ok. We don’t have to have a blissful moment of not being connected to anything. The aim is to turn away from the external stimuli and focus on what is going on inside you. The more you do it, the easier it will become.
When you get curious you might be able to identify the source of the frustration. What is it that you feel is out of your control and unable to be achieved? It may not be the most recent thing that triggered your more intense emotions, so look a little deeper to see if there is something else going on.
4. Identify the underlying emotions
Humans experience SO many emotions. We may say we are frustrated but the real emotion underneath might be sadness, worry, overwhelm or anxiety, for example. You may have heard of the saying “name it to tame it”. This means that when we name the real emotion we are experiencing, it helps us to diffuse the intensity of the emotion and allows us to use our prefrontal cortex (the logical, rational thinking, problem-solving part of our brain) to analyse where the emotion comes from.
Ask yourself, what is underneath this frustration? Is there another emotion trying to tell me something?
5. Process and let go of the emotions
We think our emotions are in our brains but they are in our bodies. You need to use your body to process them so they don’t accumulate and come up again. Moving and stretching your body is an effective way to do this. In our bodies, we have fascia, a connective tissue covering our muscles. This fascia is made up of 70% water and water can store memories and therefore emotions. Gentle stretching of our fascia helps release emotions.
You don’t have to stretch in the moment of frustration. Regular gentle stretching will provide an ongoing opportunity to process and release your emotions.
One simple stretch you can use to get started is the legs up the wall yoga pose. Simply lie on the ground, with your bottom close to the wall. Your tailbone should be on the floor, knees relaxed and feet parallel to the floor.
Next time you feel frustrated, give these mindset and movement tools a try! You don’t have to try them all at once. Pick one and try it for a little while. If it doesn’t resonate, try another. We need to practice them to be able to access them in difficult moments.
You may notice that it feels hard to implement these new tools consistently. This is not because you are lazy or lacking in willpower, this is just because you are human and our brains don’t like change. Do it with grit in the beginning and it will get easier.
Using these mindset and movement tools to manage our frustrations is daily work. Sometimes life gets in the way and that’s fine! Forget about that day and go on with the next. It’s not all or nothing. Do what you can and do your best. If the end result is not great, it’s ok because you’ve done your best. Just take one day at a time.
About Maud Eeckman
Maud is a Wellbeing & Empowerment coach helping time-poor women unwind from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
She empowers them with yoga and mindset tools so they can step out of autopilot and move into aligned actions. They feel calmer in their mind, ready to navigate life turbulences with grace and direct their energy where it matters to THEM.
She has been practising for 10 years and deeply believes in the power of wellness routines and simple tools to let go of frustrations on-demand and cultivate more content at work and in their personal lives.
Maud offers private coaching packages and a group coaching program guiding women feeling under pressure to change their mood on demand.
As a mum of two young kids, flexibility is close to her heart, hence why she also has an online membership platform, Flow & Grow. Her virtual studio offers on-demand classes in vinyasa yoga, Nidra, pre/post yoga and many other tools to help women effortlessly infuse time for themselves and disconnect from their overloaded minds.