5 Practical Mindfulness Tips for Moms: How to Live Fully in the Present
By Tricia Miller, Founder, Healthy Moms for Life
Mindfulness--What is it? It is a trending topic all around in social media, yoga circles, self-improvement lingo, and in therapeutic practices. As a mom, you may wonder:—How does it work? How do I do it? And Can It Help Me?
Mindfulness is about learning to be aware of the present—living in the NOW by engaging the mind and body with breathing techniques, the use of our five senses, and reducing our brain “noise and clutter” with relaxation exercises. Mindfulness practice is intended to be calming, stress reducing, and revitalizing. A regular practice of mindfulness and meditation helps us create emotional resources to manage symptoms of anxiety and depression, and actually improve our moods. The more we practice, the better we get at calming our bodies and minds, and better handling whatever stress we are experiencing. In my work as a therapist, mindfulness can be extremely beneficial in helping Moms to relax and reduce symptoms associated with parental, relational, and work stress. For the new mother, a consistent mindfulness routine can also alleviate common symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety.
Have you ever wondered how many times you look at your phone without even noticing? Reaching for the phone has become a default behavior for many of us! One of the challenges to living more mindfully, is the abundance of information and images we are constantly exposed to through entertainment and social media. Learning to unplug, clear your mind, and givmg your brain a chance to rest and restore is a challenge worth pursuing. Release yourself from the guilt of having this “me” time during the day, and you may find a boost in your energy and mood levels—so necessary for our roles as mothers, wives, sisters, workers, daughters, friends, and more! So, at the risk of sounding contradictory to disconnect, here are some practical mindfulness tools to help you live fully in the present:
1) The Calm Smart Phone App
Rule to the Exception—you can use your phone for this one! This is a pretty versatile phone app, but easy to use. If sitting still is too difficult, try small time intervals first. If you need a 1, 2, 5, or 10 minute break, try one of Guided programs--these are my go to tools when I need to take a Mommy time out. Guided programs include Emergency Calm, Energy, Compassion, Creativity, Positivity, Sleep, and more! You can listen to a “Daily Calm” meditation too. Perfect respite you can insert any time of the day! This Mom can't live without her Calm App in It's The One App Worth Paying for!
2) Listening to Music
Have you ever heard a song a thousand times, and someone finally pointed out the lyrics to you or we finally HEARD a phrase that never caught our attention. Listening and paying attention to music can be uplifting for spirits! In the morning, I often pick a Spotify playlist that matches my mood as I’m prepping breakfast for my kids or cleaning up the kitchen. Getting taken away with the powerful overtures of a Rachmaninoff classic to the beats of Bruno Mars can soothe my soul! What’s on your playlist today?
3) A Walk in Nature
A nice walk among natural greenery can do wonders not only for your physical health but your brain health! How Walking in Nature Changes Your Brain illustrates the positive impact of nature positive impact on our emotional heath--especially if you live in the city! Use your senses to really absorb the moment with paying attention to the sounds, smells, and sights around you. You’ll be amazed at the little wonders that are around us every day!
You don’t have to be a Yogini to gain the benefits of Yoga! The great thing about Yoga is the focus on the breath. Often times, we are not aware of our breathing. These days, there are different types of yoga to experiment with! Your local gym may have a variety of yoga classes, and so many yoga studios have a creative lineup of classes—and may include Kids’ yoga too. You might have to experiment with a few classes to get your yoga “flow” on!
5) Coloring Books
Coloring is not just for kids! Mindful Magazine shares how books can serve as a "mini-meditative" experience in Calm Your Mind and Boost Your Creativity with Adult Coloring Books. Therapists often recommend these coloring books as a way for clients to relax, focus, and be in the present. There are all types of adult coloring books found at your local grocery stores, Wal-Mart, craft stores like Michael's, Joann's, and of course, Amazon! They are fairly inexpensive as well costing many times less than $10! Color and relax away! Art Therapy is a tried and true relaxation practice that is really catching on.
My hope for you is that you find your own set of tools that may enrich your daily life. Being mindful is a mindset! Here are some books that you may find useful should you want to explore this topic more:
· Wherever You Are, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
· Awakening Joy, James Baraz
· Sitting Still Like a Frog, Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents), Eline Snel
Tricia Miller (M. Ed., LPC-Intern) is currently in practice at Memorial Counseling Center in Houston, TX where her specialty is working with clients in life and relationship transitions. She is an Anxiety specialist often working with mothers who face postpartum depression/anxiety/adjustment issues.