Mindfulness for Mama’s: Pandemic Edition
Mindfulness Techniques & Tools To Get YOu Through!
Debbie Chalifoux, EEM-AP, RMT
Aka ” mama’s Positive Energy Guru”
Parenting can be exhausting and stressful under any circumstances, trying patience and taking its toll on family relationships as well as physical and emotional well-being. On top of that, add the never-before-dealt-with worries and strains placed on parents and children alike, due to the fallout from the current global pandemic…. What’s high-stressed mama to do??
Thankfully, there are actually a lot of simple, easy to integrate techniques that can help you better handle the daily challenges families face. These techniques are designed to ease the general fear and anxiety not just from the normal pressures of parenting, but also the collective fear and anxiety we are all experiencing because of the current state of the world.
What is mindfulness, and why is it a new buzzword for parents, students and educators?
According to MindfulSchools.org, “Mindfulness means a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment with openness and curiosity.” A regular practice of mindfulness has many positive, research-backed impacts, including stress reduction, improved emotional balance, focus and memory.
The practice of mindfulness and presence moment sounds simple but can actually feel like a lot of work, especially now when concerns about what the future holds feel so pressing. But according to ChildMind.org, a mindfulness routine doesn’t have to be complicated. Below are some simple ways for that you and your children can easily incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily life.
Where do I start?? Try this gentle introduction to a mindfulness practice for stressed-out parents:
The experience of being more mindful and aware of the present is something that is available in any and every moment of the day. It can be as simple as taking a moment to pause and breathe before rushing to the kitchen to make your first cup of coffee. And while it may appear that your day is too full to take any time for yourself, the benefits of carving out a small space in your day to cultivate your mindfulness practice will pay off in a variety of ways.
For a gentle and easy introduction to the practice of mindfulness, here are 3 short guided mindfulness meditations from MindfulSchools.org- just click on the link for the short audio meditation:
- Mindful Walking: Cultivates an awareness of your body while in motion and is something you can practice throughout the day.
- Body Scan: A simple, structured was of bringing consciousness to different parts of the body. on the breath or body.
- Mindful Breathing: Awareness of breath is a popular starting point and anchor in a mindfulness practice because it is something you can always access.
When a stressful moment gets the best of you, try this technique from Mindful.org:
Take a “N.A.P.”: Stressful circumstances of any kind can lead to real discomfort, whether it be in the form of physical or emotional pain. When uncomfortable thoughts and feelings show up in your daily life as a parent, practice this technique described Mindful.org:
- Notice and observe the uncomfortable sensations in your body and any accompanying thoughts as they show up.
- Allow it all to be just as it is, without trying to change anything.
- Pass the discomfort on through, rest into the moment until your uncomfortable thoughts and feelings pass through and away from you.
When you practice allowing and witnessing whatever comes up to just be there without forcing or pushing hard for it to leave or change, you’ll be surprised how the discomfort typically eases on its own.
How can I get my kids involved in mindfulness exercises?
Especially in light of the current circumstances surrounding Covid-19 and school closures, designating time to practice mindful activities as a family will help everyone feel less anxious. “Right now it’s very easy to let your brain spin out with the frightening possibilities,” says Dr. David Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. “Practicing mindfulness helps bring us back to the present, and away from the brink.”
Mindful activities to try as a family can be as simple as taking a quiet walk in the woods, or just sitting quietly in your own backyard, focusing on the sound of the birds, the way the air feels on the skin, the smell of the trees, the grass or flowers. If you live in a metropolitan area, you can pay attention to the sounds and sights of the city, noticing and naming what you see and hear. Over your family dinner, ask everyone to mention one good thing they heard or saw that day. Make time to practice a daily family yoga session to cultivate being in the present.
Here are some additional family activities recommended by Jill Emanuele, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. by the Child Mind Institute:
- Squeeze Muscles: Starting at your toes, pick one muscle and squeeze it tight. Count to five. Release, and notice how your body changes. Repeat exercise moving up your body.
- Belly Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out (deflate).
- Mindful Meal: Pay attention to the smell, taste and look of your food. No multitasking.
- Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position. Pick something to focus on, like your breath. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath.
- Blowing Bubbles: Notice their shapes, textures and colors.
- Coloring: Color something. Focus on the colors and designs.
- Listening to Music: Focus on the whole song, or listen specifically to the voice or an instrument.
Cultivating a Mindfulness practice is a worthwhile investment of your time!
If thinking about fitting in yet another thing in your busy family schedule, consider the multitude of benefits a mindfulness practice can offer not just for you personally, but for your whole family., Says Racheal Kable, mentor, blogger and host of The Mindful Kind podcast, on the subject of cultivating her own mindfulness practice,
“After struggling with stress for much of my life, I was grateful to discover such an empowering way of managing it. And the more mindful I became, the more benefits I discovered. Better sleep, stronger relationships, more calm and enjoyment, increased self-awareness and so much more.
“Being more mindful has helped me learn how to sink into the present moment and actually experience it, rather than constantly be distracted by the future or the past. It’s given me so many opportunities to discover richness and depth in daily life, whether I’m going for a slow walk around my neighborhood or spending time with the people I love.”
For more information on Mindful Parenting, see the following references and resources:
FIND YOUR PEACE
MENTALLY READY FOR ANYTHING