How to incorporate Mindfulness into your daily life
We’ve all heard of mindfulness, and have heard that it’s good for us. But as foster parents, with children to care for, places to be, meetings to go to, recordings to get down, shopping to get and 100 other jobs each and every day - how do you find precious moments for yourself to be mindful?
We’ve all heard of mindfulness, and have heard that it’s good for us. But as foster parents, with children to care for, places to be, meetings to go to, recordings to get down, shopping to get and 100 other jobs each and every day - how do you find precious moments for yourself to be mindful? After all doesn’t mindfulness mean sitting on a yoga mat for half an hour, donning the Lycra? Well if you want it too, sure – but for most of us this is impractical every day.
The great thing about mindfulness is you don’t need lots of time to be mindful and it isn’t better at one time of the day compared to another. Most importantly you certainly don’t need any special kit for it.
But what is undeniable is the beneficial effect mindfulness has for many people.
The unfortunate consequence of our lives today is the pressure society has placed on us all to be busy all the time, somehow or another we have let ourselves believe we are only successful adults if we are consistently engaged in productive activities from the moment we wake, until we sleep. As a consequence we have forgotten over time to be selfish with ourselves in a way we were when we were children. Often so engaged in the things we have to get done we don’t even ask if we are okay.
Mindfulness allows us to take a step away from the hamster wheel of life for just a short while so we can really appreciate how we are doing. After all, we can best help others when we know we are secure in ourselves. Mindfulness allows us to appreciate where we are on the sliding scale of our feelings and emotions and helps by allowing us time to think more clearly and more positively about our own wellbeing.
Numerous studies have shown that mindfulness helps us to manage stress and reduce anxiety and improve our self-esteem. It’s also said that mindfulness can lead to greater satisfaction and appreciation of our lives. Many believe that it can help those struggling with their mental health, but it’s important to note, that it might not be right for everyone. If you start to practice mindfulness and feel worse, it’s probably best not to continue.
So here are some suggestions and ideas to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine without setting yourself unrealistic expectations.
For some people starting the day with a little mindfulness before getting out of bed and running headlong into the day ahead can work for them, especially if you’re not a natural early riser.
Try just taking a moment on waking, seeing how different parts of the body feel. Start at the top of your head and visual each part of the body as you make your way down to your toes. Have a really deep yawn or two to really get a boost of oxygen to the brain, before some gentle breathing exercising, breathing in for 4 and out for 4 a few times.
Many of us feel the need for a mid-morning drink and perhaps a quick snack to keep us going until lunch, especially if we’ve been racing around all morning. Take that time when the kettle is on to just stand or sit still, close your eyes and bring your attention to your breathing. Take slightly deeper breathes, counting in and out for 4, during which pay attention to your body, how is it feeling – this way you’ll notice if you’re out of alignment slightly and adjust accordingly – your back and hips will thank you for it.
Take 5 minutes before the children come home from school, or before you rush out the door to collect them to breathe, focus on yourself and how you are feeling.
At the end of the day when you finally hear the sofa calling your name, sit down and relax. There may be other around you, but on sitting down take a moment to check in with yourself, breathe a little deeper and check in with your body and your mind. Adjust your position if you need too, appreciate how you are feeling. If you are feeling relaxed, content or happy, take a few moments to enjoy the feeling and appreciate it. All too often we busy ourselves to such an extent that we can let the good moments pass us by without appreciating them.
Conversely if you are feeling stressed, anxious, angry or annoyed, acknowledge those emotions, and breathe deeper trying to visualise those feelings being flushed away with every outward breath.
For some people, especially those that struggle to fall asleep, mindfulness is best a bedtime. There are literally hundreds of apps to help, many of which have really good free access without the need to pay for the premium versions.
For some, listening to recordings does not work at all - but it doesn’t mean you can’t try some simple techniques. Lay on your back and start with some gentle breathing exercises in for 4 and out for 4, repeating a number of times until you are relaxed enough to start visualise your body. Mentally checking in with every part, pausing for a brief moment as you see each body part in your minds eye. Starting with the scalp, move your way down to the forehead, eyes, ears, nose, cheeks, mouth, chin, neck all the way down to your toes. Once you have reached your toes, visual yourself laying wherever you feel most relaxed, on a beach, in a meadow with the heat of the sun on your face. Imagine you are there, hear the natural sounds that you’d normally enjoy in those surrounding. Stay on your back if you are comfortable, otherwise roll on to your side, give yourself a gentle hug and stay there until you drift off to sleep.
You certainly don’t need to practise mindfulness at every time of day suggested on this list, give a couple a try at different times of the day and see what works for you. Take notice of how your feel before starting any mindfulness exercises and check back in with yourself a week or later – are you noticing a benefit? If so, hopefully this will give you the encouragement to continue taking small steps to incorporating mindfulness into your daily life.
And above all, enjoy taking some ‘me’ time. You work so hard to ensure the wellbeing of others, especially the children in your care. You deserve to give yourself some of your own precious time.
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