So much of what we do while mothering is on automatic pilot, so it’s common to feel as if you are stuck in a bit of a repetitive cycle. Combined with this, sleep deprivation, hormonal changes and other life pressures conspire to make us feel irritable, angry and down at times.
How can something like mindfulness help, and what is it exactly?
Mindfulness means living in a state of being in the present and accepting things for what they are. We can learn to train our attention, and focus on things that are more useful and helpful in our lives.
When we aren’t paying attention, the mind works over time, often conjuring up “worst possible” outcomes, making us worry and ruminate, those thinking patterns at the very heart of anxiety and depression.
When you think of the way we live today, there is such an overwhelming emphasis on multi tasking, think of how often your phone beeps during the day with so many different alerts.
Some helpful, mindful tips:
Breathe, but in your belly, not your throat. If you’ve ever done yoga, they focus on this a lot. When we are feeling stressed, we tend to breathe “higher up” in our bodies, which also leads to that familiar neck and shoulder pain. A good pattern is to try inhaling over a count of 4, holding for about 3 seconds and exhaling for 4 counts again.
Be aware of when you are ruminating: thinking about the past or projecting into the future – try to draw your thoughts back to the present, even if you are doing a mundane task such as washing dishes. Enjoy the feel of the water, notice it.
Those family members and situations that trigger you, or just not a good day with the kids? Let it go. Easier said than done…but try to be curious, be gentle and more accepting both of yourself and others. Be careful of feeling reactive and acting or saying things in the heat of the moment – take 20 minutes at least to calm yourself if you need to.
If you do become reactive, change the scenery. Look outwards, which allows you to “get out of your head” and tone down those negative, internal dialogues. Observe the colour of the sky, notice the sounds around you and really tune in. This has a natural calming effect on our bodies.