By Lisa LaMaitre
Health Writer, Wellness Presenter, Lifestyle Adviser, Business Owner
Motherhood Mindset: Seven ways to Practise Mindfulness
There are two definitions of mindfulness. The first is ‘the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something,’ and the other is, ‘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’.
Here’s seven ways to practise mindfulness:
- Think about how often you notice your breath. Are you breathing deeply and into your belly? Or are you shallow breathing, and only feeling your chest move? Take a few moments to focus on your breathing and notice how you take air into your lungs. Even a few breaths of Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing (DDB) will help you focus, reduce anxiety, improve posture, and relieve pain. DDB happens when we fill our bellies up with air; so, when inhaling, breathe in enough air to allow your stomach to push out. And, when you exhale, the air leaves your tummy and sinks back in. Practise this regularly to master it. It’s simple and effective.
- While paying attention to your breathing, don’t forget to pay attention to how the rest of your body feels. 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! Take the time to regularly check in with how your body is moving and feeling. This helps us to get out of our heads and be present in the moment. Remember, when your body speaks to you, it is asking for you to take better care of it.
- Taking a few 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 the deck or drink it with the birds in your garden? As well as that, encourage the kids to play in the yard so you can soak up some of the ambiance for your own health and wellbeing, as well as theirs.
- Ask yourself, which activities bring you joy. What puts a smile on your face and lights you up from the inside? If we incorporate a few minutes of these activities into our day, then we are building buffers into our schedule that help keep our energy up. For me, it’s patting a puppy, enjoying the nature that’s on my doorstep, or drinking tea from a pretty cup. Find the simple things that you add to your day which also bring you joy.
- Keeping a gratitude journal can help you focus on the positives in your world and shift your mind away from the things that are stressing you. I like to keep a hand-written journal, but I have friends who post theirs to social media accounts, and one who has a family ritual of sharing what they are grateful for at the dinner table. 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 both your mindset and your world.
- Creative expression has also been shown to help people get in the mindfulness zone. This is one of the reasons that colouring books are so popular at the moment. But, if colouring in isn’t your thing, music, drawing, pottery, cooking, gardening, writing, sewing or knitting could be it. Even a few minutes each day of a creative pursuit will help you find balance and reduce your overall stress levels.
- Finally, think what can you do to make your environment more pleasant and supportive. Could you spray some aromatherapy oil in the living room, pop some flowers in a vase, or listen to your favourite song? If our surroundings are more pleasant then it is easier for us to be present in them.