Are you feeling overwhelmed, over stressed and over Summer (and it hasn’t even started yet!)?? Could mindfulness help?
Well author of the Irish Better Birth Book and Founder of the award winning GentleBirth antenatal program Tracy Donegan, shares a great technique for coping with stress this summer.
Summer is coming and like many parents around the world you’re scouring the pages of the local summer camp brochures trying to figure out how to keep the family sane. If you have younger children then summer camp might not be an option. Being pregnant and entertaining a 5 year old for the summer can be stressful.
As a Gentlebirth mum you know how important your daily practice is but between practice times you have a multitude of opportunities to use the tools every day.
Forget the meditation cushions and incense – and even the headphones (hardly practical when you have twin toddlers racing about the house).
Your daily practice isn’t always about lying on the couch with your headphones on (wasn’t it so much easier on your first pregnancy)? The reality is those moments of madness are often the best ways to bring your focus training out of the GentleBirth App and right into your kitchen.
Author and meditation expert Jon Kabat-Zinn says children are like “live in Zen masters” and it’s so true. I guarantee you’ll have at least 10 opportunities to practice your Heart Breathing every day this Summer (particularly each time you hear the words “I’m bored”). Try out the practice below and before you know it you’ll be paying more attention to how you’re reacting to the daily stresses of life, you’ll start to differentiate between what you can and can’t control and by doing this you’re activating brain circuitry which is protective of your mental health. Does that sound like something you don’t have time for? Focus training doesn’t mean adding anything else to your day – you’re just being more present in what you’re already doing (loading laundry, preparing dinner, changing diapers).
When you find yourself feeling stressed – what can you do in that moment to respond differently (in a way that is good for you and your family)?
Breathe – Take 3 deep breaths right down to your belly.
Find your feet – look at them if you can and wiggle your toes if you’re barefoot. Are your feet warm or cold? What else do you notice? (Pay no attention to the remnants of the pedicure you got for that wedding 6 months ago or that’ll just invite judgy mind to join in). If you’re wearing shoes do they feel comfortable or tight? Stay with this exercise for a few moments more – as you can probably tell this exercise has really nothing to do with your feet but it’s reducing activity in one part of your brain and activating another healthier brain circuitry.
So let’s say F- THAT to Summer stress (or any kind of stress you’re experiencing at work or home) with this mindfulness technique.
Focus – stop whatever you’re doing
Feel your breath – breathe in and out deeply
Find your feet – notice how they feel, wiggle your toes and respond with Fierce kindness towards yourself.
The school holidays won’t magically become a fairytale when you become more present with mindfulness but you’ll have some tools to make it a little less stressful for everyone.