What does a day in the life of a working mother look like? It is replete with approaching job deadlines, preparing food, managing the house, helping kids with their homework, taking care of them when they’re sick or playing, spending quality time with kids, spending time with spouses, and the guilt of occasionally prioritizing one thing over another. There is never a perfect way of managing all this, and needless to say, peace of mind for self seems a luxury. However, mindfulness can help working mothers overcome this chaos.
As a result of this chaotic lifestyle, working mothers find it hard to manage their own emotional health, and sometimes end up driving themselves towards exhaustion, breakdowns and burnouts. Given all that a working mom packs in a day along with the constant juggling of roles made us wonder: Is it even possible for working mothers to practice mindfulness? We explore the possibilities in this article.
What is Mindfulness?
As defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, American professor and founder of MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), Mindfulness is “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”
Benefits of Mindfulness for Women
Mindfulness is an act of self-care and helps keep our sanity, which is hard for working mothers. The positive effects of mindfulness have been studied by various researchers. It is believed to help pregnant women during labour, as well as deal with the challenges of early motherhood with ease. It is also believed by some to have a positive impact on women while dealing with postpartum depression. Mindfulness is also known to act as a buffer against stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. It positively impacts overall human functioning.
What Happens During Mindfulness
Mindfulness helps us take a step back and just observe our thoughts while not reacting to them or judging them, detaching them from ourselves and just letting them pass. Doing everyday tasks, whether mundane or complex, could feel more fulfilling and fruitful if practiced with mindfulness.
Given the hectic life of working mothers, it indeed can be difficult to take out time to practice mindfulness but it is worth the effort to learn and practice. Best of all, it doesn’t necessarily have to be time consuming.
Tips to Practice Mindfulness for Working Moms
There is no one particular way to practice mindfulness. There are a number of exercises one could try and eventually figure out what works for them. These exercises are not time consuming and can be done without disrupting one’s schedule. Here are a few tips to practice mindfulness:
- When you wake up in the morning, take 5 minutes just for yourself, check in with yourself and set your intentions for the day (for e.g. Today I will be mindful about how I talk to my colleagues at my office).
- Mindfulness meditation can also be practiced while taking a 5 minute break from work. All you need to do is focus on your breath, the sensation of the floor that you feel on your feet, how the chair feels against your body. If your mind starts wandering, don’t worry and gently bring it back to focusing on your body and your feelings.
- Whether you’re going to work or running errands, draw your attention to how you’re walking, how your steps feel like, feel the breeze run through your face, notice the sounds & colors, and focus on the here and now.
- If your kid is throwing a tantrum or you have a tiff with your colleague, pay attention to what they are saying with compassion instead of emotionally reacting to it. Pause whatever is running on your mind and really listen closely. This will make them feel heard and understood, and consequently improve your interpersonal relationships.
- Savoring and enjoying small moments of joy! If you are having your favorite meal, savor it! Pay attention to the way you feel when you see it, how it smells, how it tastes, what its texture is like and how you feel after consuming it.
- Just focus on whatever you are doing in the moment. If you are playing with your kids, just play with your kids; if you are working, just work and be in the moment. Always be aware of what you are doing at that particular time. Awareness is key in mindfulness.
- When you are doing mundane tasks like showering or washing dishes, observe the thoughts going on in your mind and let your mind wander around freely.
- Whenever you go out, even if it is for a short trip to the park with your kids or to the mall, treat the experience just the way you would if you had visited the place for the very first time. Be curious and explore the whole area and its surroundings, while always paying full attention to everything around you and how you feel.
Guided Meditation for Mindfulness
Small steps like the above will help you be mindful and enjoy each moment to the fullest. However, in case you still need help in understanding the experience better, try practicing mindfulness with this guided mindfulness meditation.