Let’s call it as it is, motherhood is challenging. It can leave you feeling lost in a disorientating cloud of stress, and exhaustion. Buried under a never-ending list of to-do’s and priorities, where your name seems to consistently land in last-place. When we remember that it's impossible to pour from an empty cup we start to appreciate that as a mother, taking care of yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. In order to show up for both our children and loved ones with presence, connection, and joy, it starts with filling our cup, so we have plenty to pour from.
Often we are sold ‘self-care’ as an expensive luxury; an overseas holiday, a facial treatment, the occasional massage. Something lavish that we do every now and again, to ‘escape’. However, the problem with this approach is when we assume that self-care means we need to ‘escape’, inevitably we soon find ourselves returning to the same environment that left us feeling frazzled in the first place. The most effective and sustainable self-care lives in the little routines we create to protect our peace, restore our balance & reconnect us with ourselves throughout each day. Self-care lives in the way we start and finish our day, and in the little moments of presence and calm that we foster in between, less of an ‘emergency exit plan’ and more of a toolkit for daily living.
Here are 6 mindfulness tips to keep in your toolkit:
1. Daily Reset
Building new habits are hard, mainly because it means breaking old ones that have had years of reinforcement under their belt. When cultivating a new self-care habit, it helps to anchor it to an activity that has a firm spot in your daily routine….your daily shower! The shower can act as the perfect opportunity for a daily reset, turning your full attention to the warm water, visualising it rinsing away any challenges or stresses, setting an intention for the day ahead “I enter the day with a calm mind”, and lastly giving your brain a serotonin hit, tilting your outlook toward positivity; write down 3 people, moments or personal attributes you are grateful for on the steamed window. Hint: a few drops of lavender oil in the bottom of the shower acts as a great calming agent.
2. Back to Breath
Breathing is the quickest way to hack our nervous system back into balance, the breath overrides stress, and hacks us as a biological level. Set an alarm at intervals throughout the day, to remind you to notice where your breath is landing in the body - if you are met with short, shallow breaths into the chest, override these with 10 rounds of deep box breathing into the stomach - inhaling 4 seconds, holding 4 seconds, exhaling 4 seconds, holding 4 seconds. 10 rounds, and then take notice of any sensational shifts in your body.
Comparison is the thief of joy, identify things in your life that leave you feeling dis-empowered, self-critical, or stuck in the quicksand of comparison……hint: likely those ‘perfect’ mothers on your feed. Remember, Instagram is nothing more than a highlight reel, nobody has it together all of the time. Give guilt the morning off, and allocate screen-free mornings for the whole family - turn to family activities like baking, colouring (stress hack 101), or head outside for a walk.
4. Mindful S.T.O.P.
Stop - just take a momentary pause, no matter what it is that you’re doing.
Take a breath - feel the breath entering through your nose, follow it inwards and notice where it’s landing in your body. Just noticing each breath as it flows inward, and back out again. Allow this to untangle you from any thoughts that may be whirling around in your mind.
Observe - acknowledge what is happening in this moment, for good or bad, inside or out. Simply notice the situation, check your ‘emotional temperature', how you feel, notice any feelings or sensations that are arising in the body. Notice anywhere you might be holding tension.
Proceed - having briefly checked in with yourself and the present moment, re-engage with whatever you were doing with a sense of calm and collection.
We know this word comes served with a side of stigmas, but think of it as your mental housekeeping. Each morning we get up and brush our teeth, why? Because when we don’t take the time to clean them, we start to get build-up. The mind does too, thoughts starts to build up and they can start to wear us down. Meditation allows us a moment to cleanse and reset the mind, to support our mental health in the same way we support our physical health. Deduct 5 mins of scrolling time, and reallocate it to a daily mediation practice, either self-guided or using one of the many wonderful apps at our fingertips, Headspace, Insight Timer and 10 percent happier are all good options, or if you are looking for a little accountability or support, you're always welcome to sit with us. Promocode: ‘mamatime’ for a class pass on us!
6. CSI your thoughts
Don’t believe everything you think. It’s so easy to get caught in a web of self-criticism and judgement, after all our worst critic often lives within the walls of our own mind. Take a moment to write down some of your thoughts & beliefs and run them through a filter to check their validity:
- Is this thought true?
- Can I know without a shadow of a doubt that it's true?
- Is this useful to me, or dis-empowering me?
- Who would I be without this thought/belief?
Brittany is the proud owner at Brthe in Parnell, Auckland.
Their classes are for anybody and everybody. Our fast-paced lives have led us to stress, anxiety and exhaustion as our societal norm - the burnout epidemic. Mindfulness practice strengthens the basic human ability to be fully present and calm, without getting trapped in reactivity and being overwhelmed by what’s going on around us, and in our minds. They offer science-based tools, to hack your nervous system into calm, so you can take a moment to rest, recharge and reset.