I am the mother of a 1 year old, but it didn’t take the full year to see that motherhood was both everything I expected and nothing I could have prepared for. To quote Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” And goodness are those times stressful.
With all the time we devote to being the world's best mothers and raising the world's most awesome children, it's easy to get overwhelmed… No, let’s be transparent here: It’s easy to lose your sanity. Motherhood is stressful, and between regretting things we did in the past and planning for the future, it's hard to remember to eat lunch. Despite being pulled every possible direction, it’s important to practice self-care. And one of the easiest ways to ensure that you are taking care of yourself is to practice mindfulness.
Research has shown that mindfulness, a term for a series of light meditation techniques that focus on fostering presence in the current moment, can be a healthy part of maintaining mental well-being.
I know what you are thinking! “Girl, didn't I just say I hardly remember to eat? How do you expect me to fit another task into my schedule?” Never fear! A fellow mom is here, and I’m bringing your favorite thing (well, maybe your second favorite thing, because it’s not caffeine): A quick list and cheat codes! Now, take a deep breath while we cover 4 small ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine:
Breathe Deeply And Stretch Every. Single. Day.
I know it sounds basic, but it works. Controlled breathing — or pranayama, as it's formally known — has a wealth of benefits. One of most significant is the activation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System during deep breaths. Activating the PNS results in a drop in heart rate, blood pressure, and an overall state of relaxation. And the best part is how easily you can incorporate it into your day. You could wake up 5 or 10 minutes early, use your lunch, or use baby's nap time for a few minutes of closed eyes and deep breathing. You’ll feel better for it!
Download A Meditation App (And Use It!)
When you first begin meditating, it can be hard to know where to start. One of the easiest ways solve this problem is by downloading a meditation app. Apps like Stop, Breathe & Think allow you to create a profile and do “mood check-ins” before each mediation. When checking in, Stop, Breathe & Think asks “How are you?” and makes note of your emotions. Based on the information you provide, it recommends the best meditations for you. When you select an exercise, you will hear a soothing voice that guides you through the meditation. Meditations can be as short as 2 minutes or as long as 17 minutes; the more mediations you get, the more stickers you collect.
Remind Yourself Of Your Humanity OFTEN.
As mothers, there is a lot of pressure to be perfect, especially from ourselves. While it’s awesome to do the best you can as a mother, it’s important to remember that you are not a perfect person and you will make mistakes. One of the easiest ways to reduce stress and pressure on yourself is by reminding yourself of your humanity as often as possible. Did you forget the diaper bag at home? It happens, it's not the end of the world. Do you feel like your child had way too much screen time today? They will live.
On the worst days, remember that tomorrow is a new day to start fresh and improve on yesterday's mishaps (which probably weren't as disastrous as you thought).
Learn To Laugh It Off
Laughter can improve your health. Life is hard and unpredictable, so instead of trying to plan and perfect every aspect of it, learn to laugh things off. Seeing the movie Bad Moms starring Mila Kunis was a turning point for me. I felt like I was doing everything wrong that I possibly could and I was in a super funk. Mila’s character represented all of us: she did all she could to aim for perfection at work and at home. But when she found herself out of work and her marriage suddenly falling apart, it became clear that she could NEVER be perfect, so she settled for being a “Bad Mom,” and her life was instantly better for it.
The most important thing she learned was not to take life so seriously. While I’m not suggesting you take it as far as she did, I recommend finding the funny in life. Sometimes, it’s all we have.