As a bipolar sufferer, my mind never slows down, and my anxiety can often be through the roof. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t managed it as well as I could have, many times it has completely consumed me because I have forgotten to take more control. It was at my last psychiatrist appointment that she spoke to me about mindfulness for mums.
Mindfulness for busy mums
Stress, depression and anxiety are common in mums. I was not surprised to read that one in ten women aged between 30 and 40 visit the doctor for depression and anxiety thanks to increasing stress of career, raising children and, no surprises here, the often toxic influence of social media. Mindfulness for mums is now more important than ever to stop and focus on the present instead of worrying about the future and many things that are out of our control. Having trouble sleeping? Practising mindfulness is also a great way to fall asleep.
My psychiatrist asked what mindfulness meant to me. I spoke about the idea of closing myself in a comfy room for half an hour to meditate to some relaxing music. My psychiatrist was quick to remind me that, although meditation like this sounds lovely, busy mums just don’t have the time to duck away to meditate. It’s true. So how can we do it then?
How to be a mindful mum
So, if lengthy meditation is out, then how can a busy mum practice mindfulness? The answer, I learned, is in the everyday things we do, we just have to remember to do it. Here are some examples.
Doing your child’s hair
While brushing your daughter’s hair, for example, think about how the hair feels, think about the colour of the hair, the way the hair falls or how the curls bounce.
Peeling the vegetables
While your peeling vegetables for dinner, stop to think about the texture and feel of the vegetable, think about the colour and even the smell.
Instead of racing through your lunch to get to the next thing on your to-do list, think about what you’re eating. Take note of the flavours, the texture, the colours, how something tastes when you eat it on its own and how it tastes when you put it with something else. Chew slowly, taking in all the flavours and feeling in your mouth.
Try your best not to let racing thoughts in your head and focus on the sounds around you; the birds, the wind in the trees, the sound of cars. What can you smell? What does the washing feel like? How does the grass feel on your feet?
My psychiatrist told me not to expect to get it right straight away, that there will be times when my mind will wander and start thinking about the things I have to do. She suggested that when this happens to catch myself and pull myself back to what I’m doing. It will get easier with practice, and my house is going to be covered with reminder notes, so I don’t get carried away and forget to have a mindful moment.
Mindfulness is self-care for mums
So why is mindfulness for mothers so important? Look at the five minutes you take from your day to practice mindfulness as little snippets of self-care time, a time where your mind gets a break, where you can re-energise and refocus. It might not be the weekend away you need, but it’s 15-20 minutes a day just for you, to recalibrate.
As mother’s we are under so much pressure, not just with the things we have to do for our families, but we are under so much pressure from ourselves to get it done and to do it right. Mindfulness for mums is a way to reduce this pressure, if not just for a little bit, to give our mind and our bodies a rest and so we can be the best mums, friends and partners we can be.
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