MINDFULNESS | TOP MIND
Moms Guide to Everyday Mindfulness
Anneke Kirsten | Counselling Pychologist | Cape Town
October 19 2020
Being a mom is a wonderful, divine, and treasured gift filled with an abundance of love and emotion, but it can, in turn, be rather challenging at times. For the most part, it is exhausting, not only physically but mentally too. We worry constantly about our children. Are they reaching their milestones? Are they liked by their peers? Are they warm enough? And to add to the worry we also find ourselves constantly judging our motherly abilities. Am I feeding them the right food? Am I giving them the best opportunities? Should I cut back on their screen time? Am I employing constructive discipline and balancing it with enough love and nurturance? Am I doing enough to help them grow up to be a kind and compassionate but also confident and tough enough not to be bullied? As soon as one negative thought enters our minds the domino effect kicks in and we are suddenly on the anxious train down misery mile… STOP! BREATHE! Learning to alter our relationship with our thoughts and feelings by responding to them with kindness, lightness and curiosity can lessen their impact.
Here are some tips to help you become more mindful, and in turn be more present with your children every day.
- Start the morning off with a quiet moment on your own to breathe and clear your mind of the previous day’s worries and start afresh with a blank canvass for whatever the day might deliver.
- Practice 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation first thing in the morning. This helps align your mind towards increased presence throughout the day and stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, making you feel more calm and relaxed. There are many guided meditation apps on the market and you can download ours here. Android or IOS
- Engage in a ‘gratitude practice’ by bringing to mind (and heart) 3 things you are truly grateful for. This trains your mind to focus not merely on ‘getting what you want’, but rather on ‘what you already have….in this moment’. Research has shown how this increases your sense of happiness and satisfaction.
- Bring awareness to everyday activities you would usually do on autopilot – like brushing your teeth, focus on how you tense your shoulders while doing this. While getting dressed, focus on the feel of the fabric on your skin.
- Try and focus entirely on one task for an entire minute before moving on to the next one.
- Look at your children for who they are and not who you think they should be. Focus on the positive traits they possess and what they can do as opposed to focussing on what they can’t and trying to ‘’fix them”
- Play with your children! Being silly and connecting with your inner child is the best stress relief there is and a great way to be present with your children. It also helps you to forget the small stuff and ‘just be’.
- Self-care – do something for yourself each day or weekly that allows you to focus purely on yourself. You cannot care for others without taking care of yourself first. Join a dance or art class, go for a run/walk. Whatever it is, do it for yourself.
- Get outside – breathe in fresh air, listen to the wind in the trees, notice the sweet sounds of nature that are all around you, but is usually missed in everyday life.
- Laugh – find humour in some unfortunate situations. Laughing releases endorphins which is said to help reduce physical pain. If you can’t find something to laugh at, your kids can help.
- Practice mindfulness while waiting – kids especially toddlers can take a while to get things done. In these moments allow yourself to wait and not try and fill your mind with other thoughts. Our lives have become so rushed and most often our minds are already on what needs to happen next. This causes irritation, frustration and anxiety. And we lose touch with the moment…this moment…the only moment you will ever have.
I’m Anneke Kirsten-Barnard, a Counselling Psychologist (MA Counseliing Psychology) with a special interest in Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence, and Leadership training. I help corporate professionals and leaders overcome workplace challenges and reach their full potential.