Moments for Mama's - Quick and effective self care
Hey there Mama,
You may recently have joined the parenthood club, or been in this game for a few years now, wherever you are on your parenting journey, I'm here to remind you that your needs matter! After the year that we've just been through , now more than ever, it's so important to think about our wellbeing, and how we can give ourselves and others the right support!
When we welcome our children into our lives, our priorities change, our to-do list's often become longer, and the time that we used to have ourselves can sometimes feel non-existent. When I had my first born, I wasn't ready for such a significant shift in all areas of my life and my most basic needs became neglected. On my recovery journey from postnatal depression and anxiety, I discovered the magic of mindfulness and it changed my life for the better. I was able to enjoy motherhood, be a loving mother to my son, but also arm myself with tools to deal with the challenging moments, and to make the most of the precious few minutes a day that I had to myself. Four years on, I still practice many of these techniques daily, and after welcoming my second son in September 2020, I wanted to share with you some of the simple and nourishing practices that have helped to replenish, restore and soothe me on my postpartum journey.
So grab yourself a cup of your favourite 'HotTea Mama', sit back, and enjoy these few minutes of calm....
Why not start something new right now, and make your tea mindfully? When was the last time you really tasted your hot drink? Can you feel it's comforting warmth travelling down your throat? Can you smell it's delicious aroma? Do you feel the heat of your mug on your skin? You see, Mindfulness isn't about having loads of extra time to sit still and meditate (although beneficial) but the way in which I teach mindfulness is that It can be incorporated into our existing routines. To create a moment of calm amongst the chaos of motherhood in all of it's magnificent, messy, glory and to help us push the reset button when we start to feel that overwhelm creep in. But most importantly, to allow ourselves time without judgement, to fill up our cups and prevent burnout. So here are a few small practices that can make a big difference:
1) Mindful walking. Remember last year when we were only allowed one walk a day, and we were so desperate for a change of scenery? And earlier this year when we reluctantly dragged ourselves to wet and windy parks in a bid to entertain the little ones? Despite the unpredictable weather, being out in nature has some serious health boosting benefits. Sometimes we just need to get out of the house, whether it's to settle a screaming baby for a nap in the buggy/sling, or for a few minutes of headspace away from the children when you have an extra pair of hands at home. So how can you make it mindful? If you have a toddler, they will be the best mindfulness teacher you will ever meet, forever inquisitive and stopping to look, they remind us to slow down and to take in our surroundings. The easiest way to start to become more mindful is to tune in to our senses. Starting with sight, what can you see around you on your walk? Imagine that you are using an extra strength magnifying glass, and look for the details that you wouldn't have previously noticed, The differing colours of leaves in the trees, the drops of dew in the grass, ripples in the water, the blue of the sky or the changing shapes of clouds. Take in the colours and textures around you , notice how the vibrancy of flower petals makes you feel, or how the glimpse of a squirrel hopping along brings a smile to your lips. Add to this the sense of sound, whether it be the birdsong, the whirr of traffic or children playing and you will find yourself truly experiencing the moment, By spending some time in the 'here and the now' you will notice that you have quietened the busyness of your thoughts, and temporarily forgotten about the to do lists or the tantrums. Breathe deep, and feel your feet touching the ground as you walk. My favourite practice is to take a mindful walk with the buggy or baby carrier, and take a hot drink with me and some headphones, and I sip my tea and listen to an inspiring podcast on the way home whilst the baby sleeps, bliss!
2) Journalling. This is one of the simplest, yet most effective tools I use and teach. The art of journaling is such a versatile and easy habit to create, and can be done in just 30 seconds a day! If you are brand new to journaling, you may want to try a few different styles until you find what is right for you. Begin with a plain notebook or pad and take a few moments to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, perhaps write down the first 4 or 5 words that come to mind. If you are experiencing unwanted or difficult emotions, try expanding on your words, allowing them to get out of your mind and on to paper as you process them. This can give us perspective and logic when we are having a tough time, and also to remind us that our feelings are valid. Then try writing down how you would like to feel, again just 4 or 5 words is a good place to start. Next, think about what you might do to move closer to feeling happier / more confident / calmer etc (or whatever phrases you have listed.) I often give myself 2 or 3 idea's or prompts that I know will lift my mood or help me to think more clearly, such as * Meditate *Write a gratitude list * Drink a glass or water * Practice some breathing techniques. By writing it down on paper, it helps us to see that we have the ability to gain control over our thoughts, and to offer practical solutions. If writing about your thoughts or feelings isn't your thing, then why not list 3 things that you are grateful for each day ? This helps us to focus more on the positives, and the things we have to be thankful for, rather than feeding our Mind's unconscious bias to focus on the negatives. My 2nd born has been a real catnapper at times, and I would often crave just 10 minutes to myself, I would put him down to sleep and start the washing up, only to be startled by his screaming 10 minutes later... So I developed a 10 minute practice that I have done almost daily for the past 3 months and it has helped me immeasurably. Once he goes down for his nap, I light a candle, pull out my journal and play some relaxing music. I write down my gratitude list, and then set a timer on my phone for the remaining time, and meditate. If you are new to meditation you could use a guided audio track, or just start with breathing techniques (such as breathing in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8.) By prioritising myself, instead of diving straight into the chores, I have given myself permission to take this time for me and fill up my cup to help me navigate the rest of the day ahead! If you struggle to sleep then Journaling before bed can also be a highly effective way to prepare your mind for a better slumber!
3) Self care - Whilst there are a million different ways in which we can practice self care, I believe that turning some of our basic needs into a mindful ritual can help us to treat ourselves more kindly. Let's look at how we wash our face, do you find yourself quickly scrubbing off the day with a sharp splash of water and a slapdash dab of cream if you remember, before hurriedly ushering the kids to bed? If so, you are not alone. Something that can really change your outlook and help you feel more relaxed is mindful face washing. Give yourself an extra minute or two, and apply your soap or facial cleaner with care, breathe in its aroma and notice how it feels on the skin. Use gentle, circular motions with your finger tips, and rinse with water for a few moments, noticing its temperature. Finish with a nourishing cream, and closing your eyes, spend a little time massaging your temples, and gently tapping the skin to boost circulation, breathe in the scent. Almost like a mini massage, it's your opportunity to get that oxytocin flowing, and really feel like you've done something for yourself. Why not take it one step further and turn your bathroom into a spa treat? My favourite Sunday evening activity is to light some candles, run a bath and apply a facemask whilst I sink back into the tub with a good book. These 30 minutes of precious me time help me to prepare for the week ahead, and go to bed more rested for a better night's sleep.
I hope that these little mindful moments help you create some peace and calm for you.
Find a selection of ethical self care and mindfulness goodies in Emma's Mindfulness in a Box gifts at www.emmamartinmindfulness.com/
For more Mindfulness, wellbeing and self care ideas for mum's visit www.emmamartinmindfulness.com or www.instagram.com/
emmamartinmindfulness www.facebook.com/ emmamartinmindfulness.
Emma is a Mindfulness practitioner and mum of two from Surrey UK. Emma runs Mindfulness based courses in Schools and small businesses alongside her Mindfulness in a box gifts and online courses for mum's. Emma also works at her local Mind Mental health charity and fundraises to keep vital services running in the community.