Mindfulness for pregnancy and motherhood
By Louisa Deasey
Want a guaranteed way to lessen stress and anxiety and increase your ability to cope with the everyday demands of pregnancy and motherhood? Studies the world over have proven mindfulness – in any form – has the ability to do this. Many people assume you need to learn a complicated meditation technique or head to an ashram to be a mindful mum. Wrong! Read on for five simple ways to add mindfulness to your daily routine, and reap the rewards.
1: Focus on one thing
So there’s meals to be made, clothes to be washed, reports to be filed, and a dozen emails to be sent, in between texting your aunt, checking your bank balance and a few plies to get some exercise in, hey? You might think you’re being a fabulous multi-tasker but many studies have shown doing numerous tasks at once leads to slipshod work and less satisfaction.
So stop. Put the phone down. Turn the TV off. And focus on the dishes. You heard me. Fill the sink up with hot soapy water and really focus on each dish as you wipe the grime away to reveal a sparkling clean surface. Rinse. Place in the drying rack. Wipe it dry, thinking about the lovely meals you’ve eaten or will be eating on this very same dish. Put it away, ready for the next meal. If the phone rings, feel free to ignore it. From doing the dishes to folding your baby’s clothes, the simplest of tasks can be your own private time for meditation. Notice how satisfying it is to complete one task beautifully well with focus and appreciation, and how you’ve returned to the ‘now’.
2. Thought training
Thoughts are a little bit like a fast-moving train at its peak momentum. It’s much easier to nip a bad mood or a habit of anxiety in the bud if we don’t let the train (thought) leave the platform and gather speed. So the next time you find yourself on a fast train to anxiety, simply stop and observe the thoughts you’re having. Notice how ‘I’ve got so much to do!!’ might have become ‘I need that 3rd coffee/kit-kat’ if you had let it get away from the station. Once you’ve observed the thought, let it go. Continue on your business. Be the train driver of your thoughts, rather than letting them be hijacked.
3. Repeat after me…
This is a simple one, which flows on from number 2. If you notice you have a particular train of thought when you’re under stress (or you’re sleep-deprived), create a positive version to say as an affirmation either in your head or our loud when you’re feeling stressed. For example, turn ‘I’ve got so much to do!’ into ‘there is plenty of time to do what’s important.’ Or ‘I’m so stressed’ into ‘I’m managing big things really well.’ Thoughts become moods and feelings, and you’ll find your moods improve when you catch your thoughts before they leave the train and change their destination.
4. Bathroom bliss
Taking time out to have a hot bath is such a small but effective daily (or weekly) habit it really should come on prescription. No problem is ever as overwhelming after a hot soak in the tub. Up the ante on stress relief and treat your bathroom like a mini-cathedral – turn off the lights, burn some candles, play some spa music or simply focus on the physical sensation of having hot water carry you for a time. Coming back into the physical sensation of your body is a huge part of mindfulness, and though you may be in water, you’ll feel grounded and still after your tub time.
5. Sleeping and pregnancy
There’s nothing worse than being utterly exhausted but unable to nod off. Meditation and mindfulness techniques can be a useful technique for overcoming insomnia. Next time you find yourself lying there unable to sleep because of a million thoughts racing through your head why not focus on your body, starting with your toes and moving muscle by muscle up towards the heart, arms, lungs and head. Breathe in and think of flooding each muscle with light. Exhale and visualise any tension disappearing like shrivelled up feathers. Continue through every muscle and joint until you’re dreaming of feathers and light.
You must be signed in to comment. Sign in or Register