There are many pressures and responsibilities that fall under the umbrella of motherhood. Dinner. Laundry. Doctor appointments. Grocery shopping. Extracurriculars for the kids. The list goes on and it most likely does not even take into account a mother’s personal or career needs.
Motherhood can be pretty exhausting and just plain overwhelming at times. How does one slow down and actually enjoy the tasks and the responsibilities that culminate into motherhood? A simple answer could be the practice of mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a skill that has steadily built a strong following in the mental health field in recent years. Before its recent spike in popularity, it was taught for thousands of years, in what most would describe, as a form of meditation. It has religious origins, but the current practice of mindfulness in mental health is nonreligious and generalizable.
So, what exactly is it? Mindfulness is simply learning to be in the moment. A well-known researcher, Jon Kabat-Zinn, describes mindfulness. It is an effective skill that gives you the ability to be aware of thoughts, physical sensations, and actions.
An additional piece of mindfulness is the aspect of non-judgement or criticism of the self. Meaning, while you are experiencing a moment, you are simply thinking about the moment. Not creating feelings or overthinking. What a refreshing and positive skill? Motherhood already carries quite a bit of judgement and high expectations from others and ourselves.
Creative Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness
Now that we know what mindfulness is, what are some ways that it can be easily incorporated into a daily routine? Below are a few effective ways to do so.
Slowly breathe in and out through your nose. Focus on the movement of the air.
Close your eyes and sit in silence for 5-10 minutes. Think about how you felt at first. Did you feel different when you were done?
Sit in silence with your eyes open for 5-10 minutes. Think about how you felt at first. Did you feel different when you were done?
Gently stroke your arm with your fingers. Describe the feeling.
Being aware of how your body feels can make you feel more at peace. Make an angry face and tense up your body. How do you feel? Now relax your face and your body. How do you feel?
Pretend that you are a statue. Do not move any body parts except for your eyes. Pay attention to your breathing.
Look around the room for 1 minute. What is something that you have never noticed before?
Slowly trace the lines on the palm of one of your hands. Study how the lines are connected.
Close your eyes and feel the different textures of your clothes. Take notice of the differences in texture?
Walk around your home and touch everyday objects. Take notice of the difference in textures and surfaces.
Why is This Skill Important?
Mindfulness requires you to pay attention. You can practice it almost anywhere at any time for as long as you choose. The benefits of this skill are an increase in all five senses (taste, touch, sight, hearing, smell). Moreover, mindfulness teaches you how to remain in a moment so that you can truly appreciate it. Imagine your child giggling at something funny, but it goes unnoticed to you because you are too preoccupied with a household chore or your mental to-do list. That giggle is a moment in time that you cannot get back. Mindfulness is a meaningful skill to, literally, help you stop and smell the roses.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
I encourage and challenge you to pick one effective way to incorporate mindfulness. Try it at least once in your upcoming week. It is important to remember that mindfulness takes practice. It can be both easy and difficult to do because you are training your mind. You are training to be totally focused and aware of the activity at hand. For example, it is easy to engage in a breathing exercise and then begin to make a mental grocery list instead of focusing on you breathing! This is normal but it is also an example of why practice is key. With time, you will be able to fully engage in mindfulness without distractions.
For more information on mindfulness or other questions relevant to maternal mental health topics, please contact Amy Wine Counseling Center at (832) 421-8714.