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The key to unlocking inner peace is a topic scholars have studied for decades, and a mindset people continuously work to achieve.

When contemplating the type of parent I wanted to be, I imagined myself as a soft-spoken, kind, and overall peaceful mom with the sweetest, most well-behaved children. However, giving birth to my oldest son, Xaiver, quickly squashed that dream. Xaiver was, hands-down, the most difficult of my infants (he’s calmed down, thankfully).

As a soon-to-be 22-year-old mother, I didn’t consider the steps to achieving my inner peace before I could magically birth a peaceful baby. Six years later and I’m still struggling to find balance, but I also recognize how far I’ve come in my journey.

Before I dive into specifics about the key to unlocking inner peace, here’s a quick history of the origins of the modern psychological theory surrounding self-fulfillment.

The key to unlocking inner peace

Hierarchy of Needs

Renowned American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, detailed a hierarchy of needs in his 1943 paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation.” According to Maslow, humans have five categories of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. In this theory, satisfying needs at the lowest levels gives way for the emergence of higher needs.

Although later research only partially supports Maslow’s theory, his contributions greatly impacted the field of positive psychology.

A Set of Keys

There isn’t one specific key to achieving inner peace. In fact, it’s more like a set of keys that will help you unlock doorways you’ll encounter during your journey to self-fulfillment. As parents, we encounter a variety of unique stressors. As a millennial mother, I’ve struggled with whether to pursue a career or stay at home with my children (as if it’s a binary choice). For the first five years of being a parent, I worked. I served in the military, I did nonprofit work, I did design work for a local business, and I attended school fulltime. I thought I was doing just fine because I was working hard to help provide for my family, cooking dinner here and there, and not completely failing at keeping our apartment clean just like millions of other moms and dads.

Who was I kidding? I wasn’t doing fine.

Too often parents equate happiness with career success, the ability to pay bills, and keeping our children and house presentable. Inner peace may include all of that stuff, but nowhere in that mix do we focus on what truly makes us happy or brings us calm.

For me, it took the birth of my third child, Stella, and ultimately her death for me to realize that achieving inner peace was a priority.

SN: Yes I know I just dropped a bomb and I’ll tell you all about my Stella soon, but stay with me on inner peace.

Therefore, I’ve done a little research and compiled my favorite keys to unlocking inner peace for parents so you can join me on this venture.

Get healthy

I am far from being an expert at maintaining health and wellness (as I daydream about pizza). However, I do know that if you want to make a change in your overall mental wellness, you have to fuel your mind with healthier foods.

Incorporate these simple changes in your routine:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Lessen your consumption of saturated fats, processed foods, and sugar
  • Choose high-protein snacks
  • Drink at least half your weight in ounces of water (i.e. 72.5 oz for a person weighing 145 lbs)
  • Take a walk
  • Get on the floor or in the grass and really play with your kids

Sleep more

I know, I know, if only there were more hours in a day. I have a baby under 1 so I know what lack of sleep is, but I also make it a priority to nap when I need to.

For my fellow homemakers and self-employed parents, leave that laundry in the dryer. Respond to your emails in an hour. Take a nap when your kids are napping or when they’re at school! Yes, those dirty dishes will still be there when you wake up, but who cares?

For those who work outside of the home, go to bed earlier (if you can). Give your kids a bowl of cereal (or two if they’re like my boys) and a peanut butter sandwich for dinner. I realize some parents work crazy hours or have a hectic schedule, but try to find at least enough time to take a power nap.

Use my FREE Time Blocking Workbook to find time for extra sleep!

Consult an expert

Like I said before, I’m no expert. I’m just a woman who has dealt with some challenges in life that forced me to take a real good look inside myself. That said, consult an expert if you’re finding life’s stressors to be more than you can handle on your own.

People often let the stigma of seeking help with mental health deter them from doing what’s best for them. I’ll be the first to tell you there is nothing wrong or embarrassing about getting help. I have seen several therapists throughout the years; some were great, some not so much, but once you find a therapist you click with, you’re golden.

Whether you choose to see a therapist, your doctor, or your pastor, the important thing is to just do it. Start feeling better today!

Slow down

I’m guilty of not abiding by this advice. I actively try to multitask as if I’ll save 37.3 minutes out of each day (spoiler alert: I save no time).

Before we can achieve true inner peace, we have to learn to slow down. The world in which we currently live is driven by technology, speed, and results. Everyone wants everything right now, but that’s just not how our bodies are wired.

In fact, research conducted by Stanford University concluded that multitasking does more harm than anything.

Multitasking can:

  • Reduce efficiency and productivity
  • Lower your IQ
  • Negatively affect the density of your brain
  • Limit your ability to pay attention and recall information

Practice mindfulness

One way to ensure you slow down is by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is key to unlocking inner peace. It’s about improving your mental state by removing yourself from everything going on in your life. According to HuffPost Wellness, practicing mindfulness can be as simple as:

  • Observing your breathing
  • Pausing between actions
  • Listening wholeheartedly
  • Meditating daily
  • Connecting with your senses, like literally waking up and smelling the roses

With this new set of keys, you can begin to unlock your inner peace. I hope you find that observing these small but effective lifestyle changes will help you to be fulfilled and better appreciate the world around you. Remember to always make time for yourself because not only does your family need you, you need you.

Sometimes taking care of oneself means treating yourself.

 Check out these 30 self-care gifts for parents who have no time to spare!