As a mom, you have a lot going on — and it’s easy to let those things cloud your mind. Of course, you’d rather be in the moment than perusing your list of mental to-dos or worrying about your children or stressing about work. However, it’s hard to press pause on such thoughts sometimes. That, my friends, is where mindfulness comes in. There are plenty of definitions of mindfulness, but I like this one from the website aptly titled mindful.org: Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. This definition’s great because it makes it clear that mindfulness for moms is already inherent within us — it’s a “basic human ability.” As such, with some training, you can become more mindful and live in the present, even as a busy mom. Here’s how:
1. Take a Breath
One of the easiest ways to ground yourself is to remember you’re still breathing. So, when you start feeling overwhelmed, close your eyes and take a handful of very deep, belly-growing breaths. Then, exhale all of that oxygen through your nose. After about five of these deep, concentrated breaths, you’ll probably feel a little bit calmer. From there, you’ll be more centered and ready to approach something that’s causing you stress — that mess in the basement or the traffic jam on the way to school pick-up isn’t going to bring you down.
2. Inhale a Soothing Scent
Some mamas have trouble using breath as a mindfulness technique. They focus on the inhales and exhales, but it’s so subtle that they still have trouble quieting their minds. So, make breath-based focus easier on yourself by incorporating a soothing scent that makes it easier to notice each deep inhalation. I love aromatherapy oils for this purpose — aromatic lavender, for example, has stress-fighting properties to banish your rising anxious feelings. Chamomile does the same, but it can also reduce one’s irritability, and we all know that stress can cause us to be a bit touchy. To breathe in your essential oil of choice, you can invest in a diffuser, which will send the scent through the air. Or, you might try rolling it on your wrists and onto your decolletage for a stronger aroma, should you need it.
3. Sound It Out
You can escape a rambling brain with sounds, too. What do you hear right now? Close your eyes and try to pinpoint three to five different noises. It could be something as simple as the swishing of your washing machine or your dog snoring on the floor next to you. Switching your focus to these sounds can pull you back into the present.
Meditation is one of the best tools in the quest to obtain mindfulness for moms. It might take a bit more finesse to fit a meditation practice into your daily schedule, but it’s so worth the effort — moms who meditate postpartum, for instance, have less anxiety and distress than those who don’t. Those benefits continue, whether you’re a new mom or not. To start, you need to find a comfortable, quiet place where you can focus on your practice. You will also have to make a promise to yourself that you’ll meditate every day — the more you do it, the more effective it becomes. If you need help to get into it, then try an app-based guided meditation. Eventually, though, you should be able to quiet your mind all on your own.
5. Express Your Gratitude
A bout of bad stress could lead you to forget why you’re doing all of this in the first place. So, every day, take time to focus on at least five reasons why you feel grateful for your life. You can start or end your day with this practice, or spread it out over the hours if you need the reminders. When you start to focus on the good stuff, your view of the entire world around you will change. Those moments of stress or frustration will disappear when you remind yourself just how happy and lucky you are to be a mom.
6. Learn From the Experts
If you’re not sure where to start — or, you want to mix up your mindfulness practice — lean on those who have honed their craft. The internet is replete with websites and blogs that teach you the merits of mindfulness. Of course, I’m here to help, but so are a slew of other moms who have been through the same as you and have used their practice get through it with serenity and grace. And, as a mindful mama, you can never have enough techniques for centering and calming yourself.
Mindfulness for Moms — It’s Not Impossible
A mama’s world isn’t always a calm one. In fact, some might describe motherhood as chaotic, at least at times. Still, with a dedicated practice in mindfulness, you can overcome all of the stressors in your head and live in the present. And, as your kids grow up, that’s exactly where you’ll want to be.