Mother Nature-Mother Nurture – The lessons of lost connection from COVID
The problem we face for lockdown parents and babies
For parents having babies in lockdown, it has been unlike any other time in recent history. The report Babies in Lockdown – (Best Beginnings, Home-Start and Parent and Infant Foundation) in August 2020 discovered that;
A third (34%) of respondents believed that their baby’s interaction with them had changed during the lockdown period.
6 in 10 (61%) parents shared significant concerns about their mental health.
Almost 9 in 10 (87%) parents were more anxious because of COVID-19 and the lockdown.
I believe from my work in infant mental health and parent and baby wellness this has resulted from parents experiencing a lack of connection. First to themselves due to overwhelm and anxiety and second to others. Now is the time for us to create a more accessible community for parents and babies with the emphasis on connection, mindfulness and presence.
Why connection matters
As humans, we are born seeking connection and a sense of belonging. When we achieve this, we feel safe, loved and accepted. We feel secure to explore the world and experience life knowing that we have a support system. As humans, what creates fear and stress is the feeling of being rejected, not belonging or that we are separate from others.
Connection is the basis of emotional intelligence and high self-esteem. Rejection hurts and can create social withdrawal and anxiety. Connection, we know, is vital for the mental health of babies but it is also vital for the mental health of adults too. Social connection improves physical health and psychological well-being.
One recent study showed that lack of social connection is worse to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. Low social connection has been generally associated with declines in physical and psychological health as well as a higher chance of addictive and antisocial behaviour. Isolation is a threat to the health and wellbeing of individuals and society.
Brene Brown says it right!
“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irresistible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant too. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”
Social connection strengthens our immune system and helps us recover from disease faster. Strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity. When we are socially connected, we are less likely to have anxiety and suffer from depression. When we are connected to others, we are more empathic, more trusting and cooperative. This is what helps to build community and community creates and deepens more connection. A positive loop of love, connection and trust inspires more of the same. #Lovecreateslove!
We are biologically programmed to be social creatures. We thrive in a community. We may think we want money or power but our core desire is to belong, to be accepted, to connect with others, to be loved. Social connection is one of our fundamental human needs. Studies have shown that social rejection lights up the same areas as physical pain and that relationship issues can cause inflammation levels in the body that make us more prone to disease.
The science says so too….
More and more studies are being done on the importance of community for mental wellbeing. A Harvard study of nearly 3,000 senior citizens found that those who were consistently engaged in social activity outlived their reclusive peers by an average of 2.5 years.
Some studies even showed that a close community had as big of an effect on health as quitting smoking and/or exercising regularly People who are connected to family, friends and community live longer and are far happier in their lives than those who do not.
Quality of relationships really matters. You can be married but be lonely. So it’s not simply having a relationship, it’s making sure that those relationships are loving and satisfying. The study has shown that the people who were most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. Alternatively, the people who were in unhappy relationships had much more physical pain than those who were not.
Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. The people who were in relationships where they felt like they could count on the people around them had sharper minds in their 80’s than those who did not.
So what’s the solution for lockdown parents and babies and beyond?
Creating connection and combating loneliness through community, more now than ever.
All parent and baby groups create the potential for connection. Connection creates community and community is part of the human experience. The feeling of belonging that’s derived from living and participating in a community fulfils a human need that can’t be satisfied through any other means. We are born to love and to connect. We are born to share and build community.
Tree Babies goes a step further than the current parent and baby groups. Not only do we connect with ourselves and others, but we also create a grounded daily connected practice to nature to enable us to remember who we are and what is important. A step out of our heads and into our hearts.
Tree Babies builds a community based on shared experience and co-creation with no expectations. This is not found in many spaces for parents and babies as the emphasis is focused on “doing” things rather than simply “being” Tree babies is based on experience and not expectation.
Tree babies build authentic relationships and community amongst parents based on truth, sharing and experience. Its power is rooted in simply showing up as you are. Nature is raw, wild, and ever-changing as I believe the experience of parenting (and life) to be.
When you become a Tree Babies Guide, you help co-create community, connection and honour the power and beauty of nature as a constant reminder of being present and enjoying the moment
To become a Tree Babies Guide click here.
Tree Babies-Our essential resources list for teaching parents and babies in nature
I thought I would share some of my favourite resources from our Tree Babies Guide course to inspire you.
Our Tree Babies course covers everything you need to know but I always suggest cultivating a daily practice of learning.
You can order some of these books for deeper reading from Red Lion Books to support an amazing family run independent bookshop. Send an email copying this list or any of the titles and Jo at Red Lion will send them out to you, [email protected]
Continuum Concept-Jean Liedoff
Vital Touch-Sharon Heller
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in
Ten Minutes a Day by Andy Puddicombe
Four Agreements-Don Miguel Ruiz
Untethered Soul-Michael Alan Singer
The New Earth-Eckart Tolle
Forest bathing and nature practice
The Healing Nature Trail: Forest Bathing for Recovery and Awakening Book by Tamarack Song
Your Guide to Forest Bathing: Experience the Healing Power of Nature Book by M. Amos Clifford
Forest Therapy: Seasonal Ways to Embrace Nature for a Happier You Book by Sarah Iven
Other useful resources for Tree Babies classes
Calm app-This is a great way to tie up what you do in sessions with home practice for parents
Headspace app-This app offers a grounded way to add mindfulness to your day
Insight Timer-A huge range of mediations, mindfulness exercises and much more
To join us as a Tree Babies Guide and join the Tree Babies Revolution, click here
About Blossom & Berry
Blossom & Berry offers expert training, support & resources on baby massage, yoga and parent and baby wellness for professionals & parents across the world.
Blossom & Berry training is designed to give you everything you need to succeed. It gives you a complete teaching practice and mentorship program in a box.
Our training is the most comprehensive teacher training and business package on the market with no restrictions on what you can do and no ongoing licence fees ever.
“I would love to invite you to join my network of over 1000 teachers across the world sharing the benefits of nurturing touch and connection with parents and babies.” Gayle Berry – Master trainer and international expert on baby massage and yoga, founder of Blossom & Berry.
Your success is our success and having a transformational and nurturing experience is key.