5 Ways to be a More Mindful Mama
Fact-checked by HeHe Stewart, Doula and birthing expert. HeHe is the founder of a Maternity Concierge, Doula and Birthing Service in the Boston area.
It’s August. We are eight months into this year. What have you done for yourself this year? If your answer is nothing, we gotta change that, sister. Have you ever heard someone say you can’t pour from an empty cup? Of course you have, but the reality is, it’s true. Moms are a superbreed of humans that always put their needs behind everyone else’s. While this sounds very caring and selfless, it actually has the potential to disrupt the functioning of your family in a big way.
More: 4 Mindful Alternatives to Meditation for the Whole Family
Mental health and motherhood has been a great debate for years because of two very polarizing viewpoints. On one-hand, women with children have higher rates of mental health challenges and understandably so, but, on the other hand, women without children have lower rates of life satisfaction than women with children who report high levels of life satisfaction, according to 2010 study by Sara Holton, Jane Fisher & Heather Rowe. Matter of fact, transitioning to life with a newborn for the first time can be one of the most stressful times and many women complain that they were ill-prepared for the sleep deprivation, the high-demand of infant care, and the loss of personal time.
To suggest that five simple practices a day could ward off depression would be insulting and we would never, but, we do believe that these five tiny things are enough to keep your day from spiraling (this takes practice!) and simple enough that it won’t get lost in your busy schedule. Also, these things can easily become grounding points that you do to reset your day or close out your day each evening.
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Ten minutes in the AM and 10 minutes in the PM could be the difference between losing your cool on your kids and reacting when they push the boundaries. As Rachel Hollis always reminds us, if you don’t have an hour a day to set aside for yourself, are you even living? You’re worth 20 minutes.
Say no your kids, to your partner, to your boss, your colleagues, to yourself. Say ‘no’ more often and practice healthy boundaries. You know how. Learn to set boundaries so you don’t feel overwhelmed, rush, drowning, or just plain exhausted. Prioritize your obligations/jobs/tasks, decide on a specific number of things you will do that week and when you’re maxed out, you’re done. The answer is ‘no.’
Get those feelings out, then journal a little bit more. Get it all out. Then you can write down your goals on paper so they can come alive. Speaks your goals into existence. See them written in permanent ink. Write about how good it feels to achieve that goal and how you’re going to get there.
Move your body! Those hormones that get going during exercise will make you feel happy. I promise. Give it a try. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, too! Water is such a key component to staying healthy and balanced.
This is a fun one and most people have never given it a try! Dry brushing helps drain lymphatic stagnation and supports the elimination of toxins. It is exactly what it sounds like—brushing the skin (your whole body, not just your head) with a dry, soft-bristled brush. It’s so relaxing and provides a great time to check in with your body after a long day!
Being mindful is not just about you, it impacts your entire family and social circles. Imagine this: Your friends are going out to celebrate a birthday. You are so excited about this evening out because life has been really stressful lately. You’ve barely had time to think much less enjoy life or check out for even five minutes. You had arranged for a babysitter, but they got sick last minute. You are so angry about this and as a result you begin to feel overwhelmed by the group message. You stop responding and ignore your friends for the night. They spent the evening reaching out, calling, texting, but you had turned off your phone because it was too much in the moment. Your friends were so concerned because this was very out of character for you.
It could be argued that if you had been routinely allowing your body and mind the space to rest and reset, you might have been able to better respond to this disappointing circumstance. A small study done by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on perinatal wome with anxiety and major depressive disorder symptoms found that a self-care routine like regular yoga has positive impacts, such as lower anxiety and depressive symptoms, on pregnant women.
When you look at the research behind meditation and healing the human body, you will find articles and journals from cancer to heart disease to PTSD and anything in between. The power of meditation can not be denied. Now it’s a matter of harnessing the power of meditation and channelling it to change your life.
You deserve the time and space to ask yourself questions like “How do I feel emotionally today?” “How do I feel physically?” “Do I feel safe and loved?” There are so many things that constitute self-care and it truly is whatever you make it. Find something that is easy to incorporate into your daily life and make the promise to yourself to do it everyday for 30 days. If you don’t keep promises to yourself, who in the world will you keep them to? This could be eating one sweet a day without a second thought, taking a quick 30-minute nap once a day, or allowing yourself the time to take three long (sometimes very long) deep breaths before responding to your child’s 64th tantrum of the day. Allow yourself the space to be mindful.
Look for more self-care ideas? Look to these Celebs Who Give Us Self-Care Goals.
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HeHe is an experienced Doula, Childbirth consultant and Infant Feeding Specialist. She is the founder of a Maternity Concierge, Doula and Birthing Service in Boston, MA.