Like most of you, I was excited about bringing a new little baby into the world. I imagined how fulfilling motherhood would be and how I would be calm and patient no matter what. Fast forward a few years and as a mum of two and a puppy, I have found my new role enjoyable, most of the time! Although I do probably shout a bit more than I thought I would pre-parenthood!
But as you all know, motherhood isn't easy, kids have ideas of their own and things don't always go to plan. Trying to keep on top of the busy mix of childcare, managing the house, spending time with my husband, friends and family and fitting in some work is definitely tough going. But, after a chance glance at an article a couple of years ago on how mindfulness can help busy mums, I have now found a way to feel less stressed and happier - despite being just as busy!
It's about taking the time focus on the here and now, instead of thinking about the million other things that need doing while you're in the middle of something else. It's about enjoying the moment and not worrying about what's coming next.
Mindfulness can help with:
- Creating greater harmony in every aspect of your life (mental, physical and emotional).
- Releasing anxiety, stress, and guilt.
- Finding confidence and peace of mind.
- Creating more connected, stronger relationships.
Practising mindfulness isn't easy and doesn't guarantee that I feel great 100% of the time. But I have found a way to incorporate some mindfulness techniques into my everyday life which help me feel happier and calmer.
Breathe your worries away with meditation
Don't worry, I'm not talking about sitting there for hours thinking about your chakras - just five minutes a day is all you need.
Find a peaceful spot, sit down and focus on your breathing which will help you find your heart and your centre. Sound easy? You might be surprised when you do this for the first few times. Your mind will wander; as well as thinking about breathing, thoughts of birthday parties, feeding times, car maintenance, anything at all, will pop into your head!
However, if you persevere and meditate for just five minutes a day, everyday, you will start to find it easier to focus on yourself and what you're doing, which is sitting and breathing. The rest of your day is going to happen anyway and you'll be busy, but, with some practice, you'll be able to really 'live' each moment and your worries about other things will lessen.
Don't just take my word for it, studies show that meditation and mindfulness can rewire the brain to make the positive effects of a 5-minute meditation session last significantly longer.
If you find you need a little help with this then Headspace is a great app to use. It can help you re-train your brain and minimise stress. If you've been feeling anxious since your little one was born then it could be worth trying. Some of my friends who scoffed at my new found 'hobby' did and most have found their new 'take 10' is the perfect non-70's-hippy intro to mindfulness!
'Meditation' fits easily into your day
Once you start finding it easier to gain that meditative focus, you should be able to do this a few times a day during your daily routine, without even really trying. I find that while I'm cleaning I can think about my breathing, then about what I'm doing, how the polish smells or how clean the carpet is after I've hoovered. I realise you're currently raising your eyebrows and smirking at how ridiculous I sound. But this really does help me and means I'm focusing on the job in hand instead of worrying about anything else!
Other ways to focus and stop worrying include:
- Taking a few seconds to look up at the sky and clouds or stars. Pay attention to what you feel, the cool air on your body or the warmth of the sun.
- Look at the trees and really notice them, their leaves, shapes and colours. Is sunlight streaming through the foliage, can you hear birdsong?
- When you enter your home, pay attention to your feelings and sensations. What distinct noises can you hear, what can you smell?
- Make it your daily goal to notice something - a building, work of art or nature - that wows you for its beauty or wonder.
Mindfulness has become part of my everyday life. I'm not saying it's easy, trust me, some days my mind is racing and it's a real struggle to remain calm and focused!
However, it does help me find the best way to lift my energy levels, understand the joy of parenting, and find emotional strength. Three very important things that can sometimes be lost in the midst of the everyday. And, since I know that my happiness tends to affect my entire family, it stands to reason that taking care of myself is paramount to raising a healthy and happy child.
Follow Laura Clark on Twitter: www.twitter.com/poshtigerapp