Here at Parent Apparel, we're always keen to talk about mental health and keeping things balanced when it comes to family life. We all know that Parenthood is a crazy busy time. It can be relentless but rewarding, and we are strong believers in making sure you have mental wealth.
So we were delighted when we stumbled across the lovely Kim Murray from Happy Heads. Life can be a stressful journey to navigate. Happy Heads teaches simple mindful techniques that improve the mental, physical and emotional well-being of people of all ages - building confidence, reducing anxiety, depression and increasing focus to help you deal with stress, grief and other big transitions in your life
Hello Kim and welcome to The Parent Post.
1. Tell us a bit about Happy Heads.
Happy Heads teaches simple mindful tools & techniques that improve the mental, physical and emotional well-being of people of all ages - building confidence, reducing anxiety, improving self esteem and increasing focus to help you deal with stress and big transitions in your life.
Being a qualified meditation teacher and Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping) practitioner is great as they compliment each other perfectly. EFT is a non invasive form of acupuncture and a great tool for calming your mind.
I teach everyone but specialise in children and families. Ever child is unique so you have to teach intuitively - a moving meditation will work for one child but another child may really resonate with colour. The adult brain is no different so I always tailor each session to the exact age and needs of that person.
Most people think they can’t meditate and it's all about sitting still and being silent, I promise you it's not - I make it really simple and accessible for everyone no matter what your age, experience or temperament.
2. What tips would you suggest to help with the daily stress and grind of parenting?
As a parent, so much of your energy naturally goes onto your child so it's important to look after your own mental fitness to ensure you can deal with whatever is thrown at you. A few tips I would give:
Set your brain up right
Don’t look at your phone first thing in the morning as you’ll overload your brain with information. If you’re looking at social media you're often comparing yourself to others, if you look at the news it's inherently negative and can make you panic and if you look at work emails you're worrying about what you need to do before even leaving your bed.
Look after your mind
Research shows that when we meditate we strengthen our pre-frontal cortex (part of the brain connected to self regulation) so finding a few minutes each day to nurture your mind is the best way to deal with stress. Every parents routine is different depending on the age of your kids so make it work around you. If the only time you have free is on the loo - use this time to focus on your breath! Your breath is the anchor for your whole body, calm this down and your nervous system will follow.
Don't compare yourself to others
Social media is amazing but it's a filtered world. If you’re constantly looking at other parents that seem to have it all together (which no one does by the way) then you’re going to increase your stress levels and feel like you should parenting different - your own way is the best way.
3. What is the best way to relax at the end of a busy day?
The most important thing at the end of the day is to reduce the amount of time you spend on your phone or laptop. The very nature of apps, alerts, messages means our brains are being continually bombarded by new information. As you approach the end of the day you want to start giving your brain space to process the day so that it doesn’t wake you up in the middle of the night in panic (if your child hasn’t already done that).
If the kids are in bed - this is the perfect time to mediate and give yourself a few precious minutes to yourself in order to check-in and see you’re feeling. Whether its positive or negative, noticing how we’re feeling each day is really important so that we don’t become overwhelmed.
4. What was the last picture you took on your phone?
A piece of graffiti on a wall in Shoreditch after I ran a workshop. It was a simple painting of a stick man with a swirling ball as a head - I thought it was a good representation of anxiety!
5. Describe a typical day
I wake up at 7am most days and the first thing I do before anything else, such as check my phone or email, is meditate and anchor myself in the present moment. I sit in a chair and do my morning check-in to notice how I’m feeling that day. Depending on what's going on for me in that moment the morning meditation will vary - finishing with positive affirmations is a really great way to start your day.
My mind is clearer first thing so before it's been bombarded with information I try to do anything that requires a creative output early - blog & social posts, creative writing, meditation workshop planning, designing new visualisations and retreat plans.
I’m based in Haggerston which is where I teach one to one. Each session includes guided meditation, breathing techniques and EFT. There's nothing more rewarding than seeing the huge shift people make during a session.
In the afternoon I often lead meditation workshops in companies. Having come from that world I know exactly how to help people live reduce their stress and anxiety, which leads to improved work / life balance
6. Are you there yet? And where is there?
Definitely not, I’ve got so much I want to do! My real focus this year is getting my courses online for both children and adults. I’m also looking at teaching more in schools and universities as I really want to help the next generation. I think when your focus and passion in life is helping people improve their metal health, its a continuous journey as there are always people to help and reach out to.
7. How can we make our kids heads happy?
The begining years of your life are invaluable. Your brain is still very much developing so everything that happens to you - relationship with parents, brothers & sisters, school, life events - all these memories (unless made sense of at the time) form your core beliefs and shape how you view yourself, the world around you and how you fit into that world.
Simple mindful techniques through meditation and tapping create the space and opportunity for kids to process their thoughts and feelings when they arise rather than later down the line when they often appear in different forms such as anger, anxiety, stress, frustration, over-reacting, lack of compassion and an inability to focus.
A great one for kids of all ages is a colour meditation. Ask them to place both hands on their belly and imagine they have a balloon in their belly that’s in their favourite colour. Then guide them to take three deep breaths (in through the nose and out through the mouth) and ask them to imagine the balloon softly going up and down with each breath. Now ask them to imagine that their favourite colour is now completely surrounding them in a safe, calm colour bubble that protects them and with each out breath the colour glows brighter and brighter. Say words such as ‘you are calm’ 'you are safe’ you are protected’
Don’t worry if your child wants to move that's completely fine. If they want to move instead of putting their hands on their belly get them to gently tap all their fingers together (like a finger clap) as they do the same visualisation.
Super simple - colour is a wonderful tool of focus in meditation.
8. Let’s talk about sleep… how much should we all be getting a night and what tips do you have to get busy parents and kids to sleep?
According to sleep expert and neuroscientist Matthew Walker we should ideally be getting 7 - 9 hours sleep a night but that's usually impossible for a new parent! We sleep in 90-minute cycles, and it’s only towards the end of each one of these that we go into deep sleep.
The best way to drift off into a good slumber is to do a body scan. When we’re anxious we’ll overthink something from the past or worry about all the things we need to do in the future so focusing on your breath and body will always bring back into the present moment.
Begin by taking a few deep breaths (in though nose and out through mouth) with your hands on your belly - it's easier to bring your attention back to your breath when you can feel the rise and fall of your breath in your belly. Imagine their is a ball of soft light above your head and then imagine that it slowly begins to enter your body soothing and relaxing every single particle in your body. Scan down your body as slowly as you can and simply notice how you’re feeling in that exact moment without any judgement. Moving down from your head, throat, chest, back, arms, tummy, legs, feet and then back up again.
Your brain doesn’t know the difference between something real and something imagined which is why visualisation is so powerful.
For kids you can verbally guide them through the scan as they lie in bed and then get them to imagine that the light has formed a shield of protection. Guide them to imagine that whilst in this shield nothing can harm them - they are completely protected and safe.
9. How do you make sure it’s a Good Yawning? (morning)
Every morning I make sure I do three things. I check in with how my body is feeling and notice any areas that might be more tense and relaxed. Your body is an incredible source of wisdom and can tell you a lot - many aches, pains, IBS and bad skin comes from stress, which begins in the mind.
Then I check in with the left part of my brain - the logical part. Followed by the right part of my brain (the emotional part). These two parts can often conflict with each other but by checking in with both parts you’re enabling whats called ‘whole brain balance’. Checking in with how you feel each morning is vital to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed with what life might throw at you that day.
10. Social media is fast becoming one of the biggest stress and anxiety contributors, what advice would you give to a busy instamum or dad?
It's so easy to get into an insta hole where you’ve been scrolling through social media for hours until your eyes hurt. The best advise I would give especially if you have a business on-line is give yourself dedicated hours to work - otherwise it can consume you. We live in a digital world and technology is amazing but don’t let it be the boss of you. Know when to switch on and most importantly when to switch off.
Dont feel you need to post every second of the day - it will only contribute to your anxiety. Know when your consumers are mostly likely to look at your content and post at those times rather than panicking if you haven’t posted for a few hours.
Don’t compare yourself to others!!! If you compare yourself to others online it will cripple you with self doubt. Follow the people that inspire you but trust in your own abilities and your own purpose in life. There’s enough room for everyone.