Time is valuable for any busy mum. There never seems to be enough of it. And when you think about your priorities, making time for self-care probably falls near the bottom of your list.
The reality is that the struggle is real. And you are not alone if you feel this way – research has shown that mums have on average just 17 minutes of time to themselves each day! So even though it may seem like the right thing to do, routinely dismissing your own needs can have an adverse effect on your overall health. It can make you irritable, fatigued, stressed and susceptible to a full-blown burnout. So, in order to save your health (and sanity), make time for self-care…even just 10 minutes of zen time a day can make a HUGE difference.
Mindfulness to manage stress
When we can stay connected to our own wellbeing, it overflows onto our children and we’re more patient, loving, joyful parents. The two aims for ‘10 of zen’ are to help mums stress less, and love more. Amazingly, mindfulness is proven through robust research to drive incredible results in both of these areas.
Normally, mental and physical stress cause increased levels of stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress and can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking or brain fog. In countless studies mindfulness-based tools have shown to significantly reduce the body’s stress response.
Being kind to yourself, through acts of self-care, increases the hormone oxytocin (‘the cuddle chemical’ which makes us feel happy). But what’s even better is that oxytocin has a cardioprotective effect – it reduces blood pressure and also acts as an antioxidant. Showing yourself some loving kindness has such positive effects on the body, heart and mind.
Mindfulness tools don’t need to take a long time, just a few minutes can be enough to give you a little space to slow down, press pause, re-connect and re-energise for the rest of the day. Here are 3 of my favourite ‘10 of zen’ tools for mums that have ‘no time’ for self-care….
Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. Do not underestimate the power of a deep breath. These precious minutes may be the difference between losing your cool and responding calmly; between feeling overwhelmed and staying focused. I honestly believe that energy-boosting breathwork can be better than caffeine. Use the power of breath to create an incredible feeling of energy, clarity and focus through your body.
If you’re not breathing optimally, you’re robbing yourself of energy. The way you breathe may be causing you to feel tired, fatigued, foggy, and uninspired. Do this simple breathing exercise twice a day or whenever you feel yourself losing steam:
- Deeply exhale with a whoosh sound
- Deeply inhale through the nose for 4, hold for 7, exhale through the mouth for 8
- Repeat for 4 breaths
Cup of calm
When you start feeling a little overwhelmed, this is a great self-care tool. Make yourself a cup of your favourite warm drink and sit down. Notice three things in this moment – the colour of the drink, the weight of the mug, the feeling of the chair. Then consciously breathe into your shoulders, try and relax them down a little and enjoy your cuppa – savouring the flavour. Return gently to the senses whenever you notice the mind straying into thought. Be open to your senses, rather than try to analyse what’s happening.
Micro-moments of gratitude
Gratitude is a fantastic little mindset makeover tool and something that you can practice throughout the day as you go, so it doesn’t add anything extra to your ever-mounting ‘to do’ list. Just try and slow down just a fraction, just enough to briefly ‘press pause’ and just try and be in the moment of whatever you are experiencing and mentally note down what you are grateful for in that moment.
So for example – a child’s laugh. Just be in that moment and mentally note down how grateful you are for that magical laugh. DONE! That’s it. Try and rack up as many of these as you can throughout your day. This micro self-care tool will help you embrace the everyday magic amongst the chaos and whirlwind of motherhood. Magic moments, are all around you if you can just try and tune into them – and if you can you are going to feel more positive, happier, grounded, calm and in control. You will shift your mindset into a positive ‘high vibe’ zone – and you will start to actually subconsciously train your brain to see more positivity all around you and in return this will attract more positivity into your life.
Start small – just 10 minutes a day
The trick with implementing self-care is to start really small – so start with trying to find just 10 minutes a day. Maybe use time when you scroll social media, or cut back on TV. Maybe you could get up 10 minutes earlier? Try giving batch cooking a try to free up time usually spent in the kitchen for a little more time for you. Can something on your ‘to do’ list wait until tomorrow to make space for some self-care? If you look hard enough, you will always find pockets of time that you can utilise for self-care.
Prioritising yourself is really important and can make you feel so much more positive and happy about your day, even just 10 precious minutes. What are you going to do for YOU today to make you happy?
Article by Louise Murray, Health & Mindfulness Coach
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