By Lisa LaMaitre
Health Writer, Wellness Presenter, Lifestyle Adviser, Business Owner
Motherhood Mindset: 7 ways to Practice Mindfulness
The definition of mindfulness is ‘the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something’ or ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique’.
Personally I find the term ironic. I see it as when your mind is FULL, you are meant to be able to get a grip on the overload, slow it down, and start to focus on just one thing! I actually think this practice would be better termed ‘mind less’ than ‘mind full’.
Anyway here are 7 ways to practice mindfulness:
- How often do you notice your breathe? Are you breathing deeply and in to your belly? Or are you shallow breathing and only feeling your chest move? Take a few moments now to focus on your breathing and notice how you are currently taking air in to your lungs. Even a few breaths of Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing (DDB) will help improve your focus, reduce anxiety, improve posture, and relieve pain. DDB occurs when we fill our bellies up with air. So on an inhale, breathe in enough air to allow your stomach to push out. When you exhale, the air leaves your tummy and sinks back in. Practice this regularly to master it. It’s simple and effective!
- Now while you’re noticing your breathing, how about you notice the rest of your body. How do your feet and legs feel? Hips and lower back? What about your stomach? Your chest and upper neck? Shoulders, neck, head and face? We often ignore the information our body sends us because our bodies often talk to us in the only language we seem to pay attention to: PAIN! Taking time to regularly check in with how our body is moving and feeling, helps us to get out of our heads and be present in the moment. Remember when our body speaks to us it is simple asking for you to take better care of it.
- Taking a few simple moments to be in nature has been shown to reduce stress, improve immunity and concentration. So why not take your morning cup of tea or coffee outside on a deck or in your garden. Why not encourage the kids to play in the yard so you can soak up some of the ambiance for your own health and well being?
- What activities bring you joy? Put a smile on your face? Light you up from the inside? If we can incorporate a few minutes of these activities in to our day, then we are building buffers in to our schedule which help keep our energy up. For me it’s patting a puppy, enjoying the nature that’s on my doorstep, drinking tea from a pretty cup. What can you add to your day that brings you joy?
- Keeping a gratitude journal can help you focus on the positives in your world and shift your mind away from what is stressing you. I personally keep a hand written journal. I have friends who post theirs to their social media accounts and one of my friends has a family ritual of everyone sharing what they are grateful for at the dinner table each night. Her three year old loves sharing so much, that she leads the family each night. Find a way to regularly express your gratitude and you will make positive improvements to your mindset and world.
- Expressing yourself creatively has also been shown to help people get in the mindfulness zone. You know there’s a reason the colouring books are so popular at the moment. If colouring in isn’t your thing – maybe it’s music, drawing, pottery, cooking, gardening, writing, sewing, knitting etc etc. Even a few minutes each day of a creative pursuit will help you find balance and reduce your overall stress levels.
- Lastly what can you do to make your environment more pleasant and supportive? Can
you spray some aromatherapy oil, pop some flowers in a vase, listen to a favourite song? If our surroundings are more pleasant then it is easier for us to present in them.