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A New Normal: The Challenges of Being a Single Father

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Single moms and dads have more in common than you might think! Click To Tweet

This is a guest post by Daniel Sherwin of Dadsolo.com

Daniel has been a single dad to his daughter (9) and son (6) for three years, and valiantly admits that he doesn’t always know what the heck he’s doing – I am with you on that one Daniel!
Seeing every day as an adventure and a blessing has helped him through tough times and on his blog he shares the resources that has worked for him.

Men who suddenly find themselves as single parents face a hard, new reality that can make it difficult to be the father you want to be. If you were an active and engaged dad when married, you’re likely to find that quality time with your kids isn’t so easy to come by anymore.

When you’re married, you’re part of a natural parenting team. There was usually always someone to help share the burden when it all gets to be too much.

There’s the pressure of having to maintain a healthy home environment while being a supportive, loving father. And, just for good measure, single fathers often come up against the stigma that says men don’t make good single parents because nurturing doesn’t come naturally to them. It’s a tough scenario, and some men struggle to overcome the unique, new challenges they face.

Discipline

Being both disciplinarian and supportive, sympathetic parent requires flexibility and the ability to listen. Your children may have a hard time accepting the situation if your wife took the lead where discipline was concerned. In many cases, dads feel guilty about a death, divorce or separation and may overcompensate by being too lenient when discipline is called for. In such a situation, showing tough love can be difficult, especially if your kids are still emotionally raw. Nevertheless, it’s important to stand your ground and be firm when needed. Remember that children need structure and a clear understanding of who’s in charge.

Support

If you and your ex-spouse aren’t on good terms, chances are you can’t rely on moral support from her when it comes to the children. Dads who have a hard time with single parenthood often struggle because they have no support system, no one to share thoughts, feelings and frustrations with. Seek out friends and family when you need a sympathetic ear. If divorce has left you without many options, consider joining a support group for single fathers in your community, or on line.

Finances

Making ends meet is often a real challenge for single dads. You’re the sole breadwinner, which means you’re responsible for expenses you once shared with your ex. That can be a big hit to the wallet. If you’ve never had to budget before, you’ll have to learn now. Start by eliminating non-essentials like cable TV or eating out. It’ll be rough at first, but everyone will get used to the “new normal.”

Some single parents find it necessary to take on a second job, but that can become a problem if babysitters are hard to find, and when you start feeling run down. It’s important to take care of yourself so you can be an effective parent.

Self-care

Try to mark out a little time for yourself each day just to relax and think. If possible, work in a little exercise during a lunch break, or after the kids are in bed. The way we eat, drink, love, and cope with stress, depression, anxiety and sadness all play a big role in the state our mental health is in. Sometimes, it’s necessary to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing for you, and not the easiest thing. If you’re struggling with substance abuse, getting help and making good choices are paramount, for you and your children.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Being a single father takes some getting used to. It’s hard work, and you’ll make a mistake now and then. Be open to help and advice from those closest to you and take care not to neglect your physical and emotional needs.

Thank you Daniel for this great article! Seeing the single-parent life from a dad’s perspective has made my realise that we might have more in common that we think.

This has been a guest post by Daniel Sherwin of Dadsolo.com

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Creating space for uncertainty

Persist in the face of doubts... Click To Tweet

Staying positive amid uncertainty is one of the hardest lessons I am learning. Letting go of worry is not my strong point, but a habit that I need to break. Being in control lets me feel calm and safe. And not knowing the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of my future make me uncomfortable.

How do I relax?

 

 

How do I create space for these feelings of uncertainty when they break over me like never-ending waves? Suffocating me. Taking my joy.

 

All I know is that I have to persist in the face of doubts. Just keeping on. Pushing through. Trusting that all will be well.

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Overwhelm vs. Resilience – which one will win today?

Overwhelm vs. Resilience Click To Tweet

Who is going to be the winner today??

Or will I just succumb and spend the day crying in my bed…

Dealing with tough personal issues can be overwhelming and lead to numbness and not taking action.
I have learned that it is okay to flirt with sadness, but not start a relationship with it!
So this morning I had a good cry, got up when I felt better and did something good for me. For me only.
My spirits are lifted and I know that I am strong enough to get through this day…and the next…and the next.

I will rest in the knowledge that this too shall pass.

Onward and upward!!

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Tension saps your energy…

What do you do to recharge your energy? Click To Tweet

tension creates fatigue

If you live with constant tension in your life, whether from work, relationships or health issues, it will really put a drain on your energy reserves. Finding ways to relax and recharge that works for you is essential.

Deep breathing, meditation, taking a walk in nature or along the beach, journalling or making your favourite beverage, are all things that work for me.

Most importantly I find that spending time alone, with no distractions does it for me.

What works for you?

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Give your dream wings

I have been looking online for a little help on my art journalling. I always love to do a lot of research on a new project/interest and this Art Journalling is no different. I also have to be mindful to not let in stay in the research stage, because I can easily get stuck there and never go over and take some action!
But this little free course Give Your Dream Wings by Andrea Schroeder from CreativeDreamIncubator is really doing some magic for me.

She also wrote a wonderful post about working with energy containers for magic … read more here. Amazing stuff!

There is fun in giving your dream wings Click To Tweet
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How creativity can help you heal

So today I went to an energy healing session. I have never been to one before and didn’t know what to expect. What I found was a kind ear and a steady hand who touched my heart. Sometimes just talking openly with someone you trust is exactly what you need. I had never met this healer before but felt comfortable with her immediately. As we talked, I grew more relaxed and opened up about things that are bothering me at the moment. I have been on a path of self-loathing these past few weeks, and I know it will lead nowhere good – really fast.

I have been on this road before and I am recognising the signs. I isolate, pull back, talk less, eat more junk food and drink less water. I am obviously trying to protect myself and that in itself is not a bad thing. It is when all this aloneness gets out of balance that I can really feel it.  I have even been isolating myself from the only good friend or two that I have. I know it is not a good practice, but when I feel so overwhelmed like I have been lately, it is exactly the thing I do. I creep back into my shell of protection and it takes a really great person to get me out of it again. And since I don’t have any of those in my life at the moment, I realised it is up to myself.

So I went where any tech-savvy, self-helper goes first…Pinterest.

I enter my latest ‘craving’ and hit enter. There is usually a lot of good ideas and when I finally tear myself away from the screen after a few minutes (ok, hours!), I have a lot of plans and inspiration to get me going. It is not to say that I actually do get to the action part, but at least I feel a lot more inspired.

What I realised again today is that my soul needs some creativity. So I have decided I am going to set aside a session of time aside each day to do something creative. Lately I have been leaning toward painting. A couple of years ago I felt the tug toward painting but I didn’t have the time to invest in it. Earlier this year I got the chance to create two paintings for a tender process. The work didn’t pan out, but it made me realise how much I enjoy the process. I really felt in the zone while I was busy and time flew by. Isn’t that how you know you are enjoying yourself?

There is a connection between art and healing Click To Tweet

The connection between art and healing is getting much more attention these days. A growing body of research shows that a variety of creative activities can positively impact your emotions, attitudes and beliefs, and can contribute to greater health and wellness. I just have to look at the shelves at my local bookstore that is filled with coloring books for adults to know the following statements and definitely true:

  • “Art can distract you from thoughts of illness”
  • “Art decreases negative emotions and increases positive ones”
  • “Being creative can reduce depression”
  • “Reduces stress and anxiety; increases in positive emotions”
  • “Reduces negative emotions”
  • “Improves flow and spontaneity”

We are all looking for ways to reduce our levels of stress and get a bit of our childhood carefree feelings back. So starting from tomorrow I will tackle a little art journal project, and if I feel it is ok to share here, I will. I have a smidgen of perfectionism problems so it might be really hard for me to share any of my creations just yet. At the moment I am just glad I committed to something.

I am happy I took the time for myself this morning. That I did something for me.

www.evolveself.co.za

What little steps are you taking every day to help fill your cup?

 

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When Perfectionism Sends You Running for Cover

thesyncmovie
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Every year I start of with the idea of following a theme. This year was no different. The theme I picked was Mindfulness. I called it “2015 Mindfulness”. Because, you see, I have picked mindfulness as my theme for the last three years and I wasn’t particularly successful at managing the practice at all. Hence the repeat action.
Practice makes perfect!

Progress over Perfection Click To Tweet

Or I should actually say: Practice makes progress. Has anyone else noticed that the saying has changed over the last few years? I think it is a great idea. I am making progress. And putting that endless amount of pressure on a person to be perfect is just unrealistic. Luckily this is something I have observed about myself long ago: trying to be perfect. Perfectionism follows me around like a little shadow and it creeps up every now and again as a silly reminder that I take myself too seriously and I need to calm down.
Be less anxious. Just do something.
It doesn’t have to be 100%.
It can just be.

Trying to be perfect is something I have dragged with me since childhood. I posed a question in a support group the other day, and asked for advice about something that was bothering me at the time. And out of all the answers the clear intention came out, that I should look to my past for the origin of this current issue. Because what I was dealing with at the moment was just symptoms of a much deeper challenge.

I have forever felt that I am not good enough, or that what I do is not good enough. I have had better times in my life where I have felt good enough as a person, but I guess lately the spiral has been turning back to the feeling of inadequacy. At least I know now that the spiral will turn again and take me to a better, higher place of understanding and acceptance of myself.

www.evolve.co.za spiral-v1

For now, I am off to go listen to some more Power Affirmations on YouTube. I found a good one by David McGraw here.

What do you do when you struggle with perfectionism?

 

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Why driving helps you think

Driving helps me to think and may be the key to reducing my stress levels, increase my creativity and possibly even make me more happy. The drive to my daughters’ school is just 15 minutes and even in that small amount of time – my creative juices kick in. The drive acts as a kind of intermission to my morning of studying and the afternoon’s activities that still lie ahead, and I get to practice a little mindfulness.

“Research indicates that the regular practice of mindfulness demonstrates efficacy in treating anxiety and a variety of other psychological conditions.”

As my body focuses on the task, my mind starts to reflect on things more clearly. I suddenly remember things I forgot to do, and I realise that clutter is not only a physical thing, but definitely something that happens in the mind as well. So I use this time to do a bit of mental-organising. Because I can’t write anything down while driving, I have started to use the voice recorder on my phone to record short to-do lists for myself. Until I can get back home and can sit down in front of my computer again to start acting on those ideas.

Here are 3 things that driving has helped me do:

  1. Lessen anxiety. I practice breathing exercises while I drive, or listen to a short guided meditation.
  2. Get my groove on. I have made myself a playlist of inspirational songs that I sing out loud whenever I feel a bit blue and need a good laugh. My singing really is that bad. Not even the shower gets an earful.
  3. Get writing done. Well, actually this is me talking out loud to a recorder, but you get the idea. Focused thoughts, less distractions. I really get things done!

Is there anything you do while driving that helps you? Add you ideas in the comments below.

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How healing our own hurt helps us

A line from an article really resonated with me.  “I can look after myself, knowing that by healing my own hurts I won’t be passing them on to anyone else.”
It’s exactly the way I feel about raising my daughter. It’s important for me to help her through life’s difficult moments and try to be there for her when she grows up. Sometimes I feel that there was a bigger plan in store for me after the breakup of my marriage. Everything I went through made me a better person, so that I can be a better mother and role model for her.
It really was a life-changing event for me and has changed the way I think about life and how to handle things. If only I had know these things when I was younger! But alas, wisdom comes with age. I just wish that I can part some of my wisdom onto her and that she will be willing to listen to me when she is a teenager!

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