I haven’t got time for that’ I used to think, as I washed up another load of bottles whilst thinking about which emails I had to respond to later. ‘That airy fairy stuff isn’t for me’ I pondered, as I raced back from work to collect my son from nursery, whilst still on the phone to my team after a tough day. ‘I have too much to think about to meditate’ I told myself as I battled with my anxious thoughts for the 10th time that day…. You catch my drift. I wasn’t on the mindfulness wagon when I first became a mother. I didn’t have time for ‘all of that stuff.’ I wasn’t making time for my wellness, which sadly for me, resulted in me having to make time for my illness instead. I discovered mindfulness on my recovery journey from postnatal depression , and it honestly changed my life.
Most mums that you speak to, would answer the question ‘How are you doing? with the words ‘Busy’ or ‘Tired!’ In a recent poll where I asked how much ‘Me time’ people had for themselves in one day, the majority vote was 0-10 minutes!!! Unsurprisingly, they were all mums! There is a huge shift in our focus when we become a mother, and a greater proportion of our time and energy is spent on our small humans. When we add in household chores, work demands and life admin…. there can be precious little time left for us. But how we choose to spend what time is left can make all of the difference. The way in which I teach mindfulness is by equipping people with quick and easy techniques that can be fit into their existing routines , and how to turn things that they already do into a mindfulness experience!
So what is mindfulness, and why is it so useful for mums?
Mindfulness is the art of being present in the moment, a state of awareness, without judgement. We can live up to 70% of our lives mindlessly (In a state of distraction) whether that’s by our own thoughts, our children, families, social media, background noise etc etc. Can you recall a time where you’ve taken a journey, looked up and all of a sudden you’ve arrived?! You don’t recall indicating to go right, or pulling out of the last junction? This is called living ‘Mindlessly’ which can feel like we are on autopilot. Mindfulness allows us to be present , to take in our surroundings, acknowledge our feelings, utilise our senses and ultimately increase our sense of gratitude.
Mindfulness programmes can be hugely successful in treating symptoms of physical and mental illness as well as building resilience, helping us cope with stress, and to regulate our emotions, many NHS trusts prescribe or promote Mindfulness courses because of its outstanding results.
As a mum, it’s likely that by the time you get to enjoy your cuppa, it’s stone cold, or you’ve drank it so quickly that you are already boiling the kettle for the next one. When did you last stop and truly taste it? Did you notice its aroma and it’s comforting warmth of the mug on your hands, or was it just a fleeting moment that went unnoticed? Believe it or not, I teach many mums how to make and enjoy a mindful cuppa, because when we’ve got little time to spare, it can be such a great way to ground ourselves or push the reset button in just a couple of minutes.
We can follow the same principles in many of our daily tasks such as washing our face, spritzing on a scent, making our lunch or taking our daily walk – being led by our senses can give us much needed relief from the never ending ‘to do’ lists in our mind.
Allowing ourselves to breathe deeply, see the beauty of nature, hear the birdsong or feel our own gentle touch is a gift that we were all born with, and can reawaken by being more mindful. Children are the best teachers of mindfulness because they are so inquisitive, imagine how less stressful trips out would be if we stopped rushing and worrying about scenarios in our minds, and started listening to the birds tweeting together, or experienced the crunch of the leaves underfoot. Suddenly we start to reconnect with ourselves, nature and our children and with practice it becomes a natural reaction.
So how can you start to take a more mindful approach when you are super busy?
1) Practice becoming aware of your breath, and noticing when your thoughts start to distract you. Just practicing this for a few minutes each day will make a big difference in helping to clear a cluttered mind.
2) Make every day items/ rituals into a mindfulness experience. My Mindfulness in a box kits contain easy to use items such as herbal tea, chocolate, face and body soap, essential oil, candle and an affirmation and meditation card to create micro moments of mindfulness in your day.
3) Try a guided meditation, just a few minutes of deep meditation can be as effective as a 20 minute power nap! (And let’s face it, as mums we are ALWAYS in need of a nap!!)
4) Practice gratitude, when we are more aware, we become more grateful. Try finding 3 things each day you are grateful for, and notice how it impacts your mindset positively.
5) Remind yourself that your needs are important, and that you are doing your best. Positive affirmations forma huge part of my daily practice, and are great at warding away unhelpful or anxious thoughts. Repetition is key and can just take a few seconds to lift your mood!
So why not give it a go when you next boil the kettle, or perhaps download a meditation track to replace your next 5 minutes of social media scrolling?