Motherhood and Stress
Being a mother can be stressful. Children are full of surprises, and although we try to anticipate their needs, it’s impossible to head off every challenge. After a long day, it can be difficult to unwind our nervous systems and go to sleep. It’s also especially hard to fall back asleep when a crying child has woken you in the middle of the night, and your heart is pounding from the adrenaline rush. It’s easy to end up surfing the internet in an attempt to zone out or worrying about tasks that need to be done.
Meditation and Mindfulness
One technique I’ve found to be helpful in clearing my mind is meditation, even if it’s while laying in bed trying to go back to sleep. Meditation has been shown to help our brains process stress and how we respond to stressful situations. A mother’s nervous system can become tightly wound after a day of crying children, lack of sleep, and juggling work and home life. We are constantly required to be non-reactive when our children do things that can be frustrating, and it’s important to find healthy ways to relax. One of the quickest, easiest and least expensive options is taking a short moment to meditate or practice intentional breathing techniques.
A simple type of meditation that can lower heart rate and clear your mind quickly is to simply focus on breathing deeply and intentionally. You can do it laying down or sitting up, at home, in your car or even in a shopping mall. It’s great for those moments when your child is throwing a tantrum and you feel like joining them. It’s also helpful at night when you’re trying to go to sleep and don’t want your mind to wander and keep you awake.
I. Lie down in your bed or on the floor with a pillow to support your head. You can also do this standing up if you are dealing with a stressful situation and need to immediately calm down.
II. Put a hand on your abdomen and one on your chest. (This part is not necessary after you have the technique down, although I find it soothing.)
III. Close your eyes. (If in public or needing to keep your eyes on your child you can keep them open.)
IV. Allow your body to fully relax and notice your breathing as it goes in and out of your body.
V. Pay attention to whether you’re breathing in through your nose, or your mouth, and notice if your breath is evenly going in and out.
VI. Began taking deep, long breaths in through your nose, filling your chest and the lower abdomen with your breath.
VII. Exhale and allow your whole body to relax.
VIII. Continue taking slow deep breaths that fill your abdomen and then exhale, allowing your entire body to relax more with each set.
IX. Do this until you fall asleep or feel relaxed.
Note: If you find it difficult to breathe deeply, your diaphragm might be constricted from anxiety. There are some techniques for relaxing it here.
1. I enjoy this meditation app, which you can put on your phone. I almost always fall asleep before its done.
3. I love this book “Spirit Yoga” by Kathy Phillips. It has a nice chapter on meditation and breathing. It’s out of print, however you can find used copies on Amazon.