Last year I spent the year trying to make progress on a massive personal level. I find myself sometimes becoming so lost in life and worries, stresses and concerns. I let myself go into auto-pilot so many times and some days I would just wake up and plod through the days. For some reasons, I would dread each new week. I knew my husband would be going off to work for the week, leaving me in charge of our brood and I would battle with having to balance housework, children and a social life. Instead of bossing it, I would bum out. I would get myself so upset on a Sunday night, yet each and every week ended up being fine.
Last year I decided that I had had enough of being 'just fine'. I'd had enough of letting life and its downfalls consume me. I was sick of health issues overwhelming me and devouring me. This wasn't how parenting was meant to be. This wasn't how I wanted my experience with motherhood to pan out.
So I decided to change it all. A couple of my friends had mentioned something to me, something that many, I fear will form eye rolls over.
It sounds so 'out there' for some. Believe me, it isn't. I am not one to be able to switch off easily, I am always trying to multi-task, (as we speak I am listening to an online course instead of giving it my full attention). I am not one to be able to sit, cross-legged, humming peacefully and meditating. I would find it almost impossible to switch off and get to that state. I wasn't sure what to expect from mindfulness. So, like the modern Mam I am, I downloaded an app to start with, then I purchased a book, that I am still going through. Mindfulness definitely has improved my life. It definitely has improved how I see Motherhood. If this doesn't even interest you in the slightest, you have the chance to stop reading. If, like me, you are open to new things, then please do read on. Here are some of the steps that have helped me to become an ever-learning mindful Mum, (so far)
1. The Past. Do not dwell on the past. I have always been so guilty of doing this. Always wondering, what if I had done that instead? Or I wonder why so and so doesn't text anymore? I often sit and wonder if I was happier, back when.... In reality the past always looks better at times. It lacks the fear of the future and the fear of the unknown- it seems safe because we have been there and done that and clearly, we are still standing. It is ok to reflect, to reminisce and to fondly remember the good times that led us down our path. It is not OK to dwell and get stuck there. So spring yourself out of the past.
2. The Future. Do not fear the future. Again, this is something I am massively guilty of doing. I ask what if's all over again. Usually it is what if this happens? What if I never do this? What if this leads to that? All I do is rob myself of my here and now. Most of the time my worries seem redundant and within a week my what ifs have changed. Sometimes I have worried myself sick for a time over something that ended up being a whole lot of nothing. As hard as it is, it is better to jot your worries down and leave them there. Not in your mind. The future is this big scary black space ahead of us. But really, the future can be broken down into smaller chunks. Why worry about 10 years time? When I need to worry about the pile of washing I need to fold for tonight?
3. The Present. Bask in the now. Embrace today. Worry about today, dwell on today, be happy today, get excited today. Feel it all for today and the now. Mindfulness is all about bringing you back to the here and now. Before it is gone and you didn't even realise.
5. Download an app. Look on your app store for whichever platform you are on and search mindfulness. There are a whole heap of apps out there that have small, short mindfulness activities you can practise. These are great at teaching you the basics.
6. Focus on the good things each day. Before each day ends, I try to make a list, be it on paper or in my head of at least 4 good things that have happened that day. Some days are harder than others but if anything, once I get the ball rolling, I end up thinking of an excess of 4. They can be little or small. Perhaps you made progress with potty training, or one of my personal highlights would be anything Ant and Dec related on the TV in the evening!
7. Write lists. As I mentioned above, sometimes it's good to write lists. You can write them on the good parts of your day, or sometimes I jot down everything I am worrying about and stressing about and I put the list in my diary and leave it there for a day or 2 before coming back to it. Usually some of the worries have resolved themselves and if they haven't I work down the list in a more logical way then stressing about each item. I write lists on things I need to do through the day. I live for lists.
8. Pause. Just stop. Stop frequently. Take it all in. This is key I think to mindfulness. Sometimes the business of life makes the time fly by. Hours turn to days, days to weeks and weeks to months. Days blur into one big mess. Sometimes, especially when I am feeling stressed, I have to pause. I have to stop what I am doing, grab some fresh air and take in my little family. They are the reason my World goes round. So for them, I try to be mindful. I pause and I notice my breath, and my surroundings. Once I've paused, usually life resumes but at a more manageable pace.
I hope these steps help inspire you to become more mindful. Like I mentioned before, it isn't for everyone but it is certainly something that has made a positive difference in my life and for me anything that does that is worth a shot. If you would like to learn more, feel free to message or comment on here. I would definitely be up for writing another blog post too in the future.