5 Ways to Take the Pressure Off so Joy Can Flow

Self-care is talked about so frequently that it almost feels cliché to even utter the words at this point. That’s a shame though, because self-care is vital to both our physical and emotional wellbeing. Without self-care, we become wrapped in stress and that stress trickles down to our loved ones. Without self-care, we become caught up in doing, going, and achieving, and that need to produce results becomes the baseline from which we launch our children out into this world. When they see us getting caught up in the culture of busy and running toward some inflated vision of success, they learn to do the same.


We need to do better. For ourselves, for our children, for our partners, and for all of our loved ones, we need to learn to slow down and tune back in. We need to stop chasing and start listening. We need to practice gratitude, spread kindness, and laugh often. We need to focus on what we already have.


I have fallen victim to insufficient self-care. I have lost my way once or twice, but I am lucky to have friends and family who support me and build me up when I need a little strength. I consider myself lucky to call Rachel Macy Stafford one of my friends, and I rely on her words of comfort more often than she even knows.


Please enjoy this excerpt from Rachel’s new book (a book I can’t put down!), Only Love Today.


5 Ways to Take the Pressure Off so Joy Can Flow


Admit your mistakes.


Imagine never hearing the words, “I’m sorry,” from someone you love. Imagine living with someone who never admits he messed up or she was wrong. Imagine how you would view your own mistakes. Remember this: Being human allows others to be human. Getting back up after you fall down gives others the courage to do the same. Asking for help, forgiveness, or a do-over invites joy to come back in.


Meet loved one’s mistakes with compassion.


Nothing blocks joy from a home more than exasperation, annoyance, or shame in response to mistakes or missteps. Watch the other person’s face when you say, “That happens to me too,” or  “Making mistakes means we are learning and trying.” Instead of fear, embarrassment, or frustration, you might see relief, hope, or determination on that face you love. You also become a trusted source for larger infractions in the future.


Use meaningful measures of success.


When it comes to school, sports, and extracurricular activities, it’s easy to get caught up in numbers, check marks, statistics, awards, and wins. But what about good sportsmanship, integrity, kindness, and honesty? What about the happiness felt when doing what they love? Placing less emphasis on grades, goals, and appearance to notice acts of bravery, effort, and courage will allow joy to be present, no matter the score.


Be less of a manager and more of a nurturer.


I’ll never forget the teenager who found my blog by Googling: “how to remind my mother I am a human being with feelings”. The young lady explained, “I could do a million things right, but my mom could still find the flaws, and that ruins the whole day.” She inspired me to lose the manager role I’d adopted and be the loving encourager instead.


Seeing my children as human beings with thoughts, feelings, ideas, hopes, and dreams motivates me to periodically consider my expectations: Are they reasonable? Realistic? Necessary? Are they age appropriate? This awareness creates a home where positives are noticed, strengths are nurtured, and unconditional love is abundant.


Love “as is”.


If nothing else, make it abundantly clear that you love your people AS IS – that they do not need to DO anything, BE anything, CHANGE anything to be loved by you. Make a point to say, “I love you just as you are. Exactly as you are. I love you because you are you.” Feeling known and accepted by the people in your home not only makes for a better day, but it also makes for a better future.

Today I want to say yes to listening and laughter.
I want remember what my heart loves to do and do it—even for just a little bit.

I want to close my eyes in gratitude.

I want to open them in wonder.

I want to read a book.
Plant a seed.
Say, “Take your time,” and mean it.

I want to give a good kiss.
Leave a surprise note.
Do a little bit of absolutely nothing.

I want to

I want to fill the spaces of my life with love.

So I can breathe …

and maybe laugh a time or two.
-Rachel Macy Stafford from ONLY LOVE TODAY

This is a small sample of what you will find in Rachel Macy Stafford’s highly anticipated new book, Only Love Today: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less, and Choose Love (release date 3/7). With a unique flip-open, read-anytime/anywhere format, this book is soulful encouragement for busy individuals yearning to anchor themselves in love despite everyday distractions, pressures, and discord. “Only Love Today” began as a mantra to overcome her inner bully, but it is now the practice of Rachel Macy Stafford’s life. It can be a practice for all of us. Join Rachel and her supportive community at HandsFreeMama.com where you can also pre-order Only Love Today by March 7th and receive free bonus materials with your order.

About Katie

Katie Hurley is a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She works in private practice in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, writes for PBS Parents, Washington Post Parents, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World" (Tarcher/Penguin, 2015) and "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" (Penguin Random House, 2018)