Sometimes you just need to let yourself ‘be’
Do you sometimes feel that life is just rushing by in this fast paced, hectic world we live, where we are constantly striving to be ‘the good enough’ parent? I know I certainly do. Life is so full of distractions and worry about what the future might hold for any of us, but in particular our children. Mindfulness has been practiced for many years with roots in Buddhist traditions but has become a popular method modern society to help a person be present in their everyday lives.
Mindfulness can be hugely beneficial to parents. It supports them to gain control and perspective on anxieties and fears and results in a healthier, happier you. Mindfulness will enable you to control your thoughts and prevent them from going in a direction you do not wish them to, whilst feeling grounded in the moment. It is a well used resource in mental health, cancer care and for healthcare professionals in general. There is a plethora of knowledge and information available out there on Mindfulness but I want to share with you some of the tools I have found helpful in both my work and home life.
- Focus on the now. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Think for a moment. When you are doing the washing up are you thinking about that or are you thinking about what shopping you might do later? When you walk the kids to school are you thinking about what you are going to cook for dinner? Try to be present. Feel the bubbles in the sink and the warmth of the water on your hands, sense how you feet feel as they touch the ground beneath them. As you walk with your children, feel the breeze on your face, listen to the sounds around you, the touch of their hand holding yours. Be present.
- Breathe. Practicing simple breathing exercises to use in more stressful life situations is one of the biggest tools you can have by your side. Breathing is a natural relaxant, it reduces heart rate and calms the mind. Breathing is always best practiced when you feel calm and relaxed so that you can retrieve the skill any time you need it. Try this; breathe in from your mouth and out through your nose, each breath cycle should last 6 seconds, so in for 3 and out for 3. Focus on the breath, it should be effortless after a little while. Let your thoughts go and simply focus on your breath, focus on how it feels as air enters your body and fills you with life.
- Think positively. I don’t know about you but I am constantly under the attack of mum guilt. Whether it be how much time I spend at work vs at home with the kids or the fact my house looks like I have been under siege for a decade or the constant social media comparison we feel the need to be that ‘perfect person’. So stop beating yourself with a massive stick (that your child has just dragged in over your freshly hoovered carpet) and give yourself a break. Is your house a tip but your kids are happy because you spent time doing something they love? Did you serve up processed food for dinner because you were at the park or working late? Well give yourselves a massive pat on the back. You are an amazing mum. You prioritised life and happiness over housework. Blooming good job I reckon.
- ‘Let them eat cake’. That’s you by the way, yep a lovely big piece of cake.
WomenMost people have things about their body they are not happy with. Even that person you perceive as having the perfect figure is likely to have things about them they wish were different. Personally this is a biggie for me. I have always struggled with my weight and it is something that will always be a part of me but I learn to not let it rule my life. So you know what, if you want a piece of cake or chop chip cookie, then have it. However…enjoy it, savour it, make it last. Don’t scoff a half eaten bit of chocolate cake that your kid didn’t eat half hanging over the bin so as not to be caught out, or stop crumbs all over the place. Take a plate (a pretty one if you have it), put the kettle on, place said treat on chosen receptacle, pour tea…then sit. Enjoy every mouthful, in peace, without a child on your lap or tugging at your clothes. Sit and enjoy that treat because you deserve it.
- Love your body. Mindfulness believes that loving your body leads to a more confident, happy you and I have to say, I agree. This is something that will take time if it is a lifetime of self doubt you are trying to escape from (like me). Appreciate you body for what it is. Stretch marks? Well they are the proof that you brought life into this world. Grey hair? A sign that you are older and wiser than you once were and your experience is of great value to those around you. This year I had an epiphany of some sort. I have never liked to show my legs in public so always wear tights with skirts or trousers, even in the height of summer (yes I know, I know). This year I just thought, I don’t actually care any more. I wore shorts (don’t worry not arse cheek kinda shorts but shorts nonetheless) and it felt amazing! It was totally liberating to just not care what other people thought of me and my body. So go for it.
- Get outdoors. Never underestimate the power of fresh air and sunshine on your face. It is a really powerful tool in mindfulness. Breeze blowing on your face is a really effective tool when you feel your thought spiralling out of control and are feeling anxious. Sometimes the feeling of that breeze across your skin is enough to break that cycle of anxiety. Some people find carrying a hand held fan works really nicely.
- Carry a pause button. Do you ever say to family or friends “I wish time would just slow down”? I hear and say it all the time. So I give you…the ‘pause’ button. Every day at least once but maybe three times, just hit that button and STOP:
- Take a breath
This is one of the most valuable tools you can have to help you stay in the moment. So even if you don’t think anything else is for you, take the STOP button and use it in which ever way suits you. Mindfulness gives you the opportunity to be fully present in this moment, aware of what you are doing, where you are and who you are with without feeling overwhelmed but what life throws at you.
Ps. I would love to hear from you so drop me a comment below :)