Three Tips to Practice Mindfulness and Reduce Stress in Real Life: Guest Post by Joan Hope Craig
You have a lot on your plate… and if you’re reading Moms4Health, you’re committed to creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family that includes movement, Whole Foods, and lots of joy. You want to be a loving, supportive mother, AND take care of yourself. It’s tough to fit it all in, even when life is going smoothly.
No matter what your lifestyle is, you are facing stressors. I break stressors down into three main types:
High-level stressors like an illness, accident, or crisis – Involve the hospital, police, and/or lawyers. When you have this kind of stress, you know it, and you do not expect yourself to carry on with normal activities. You give yourself a break.
Mid-level stressors like chronic health problems, poor sleep, ongoing relationship, and financial stress. These are either high-level or low-level stressors that stay around a long time.
Low-level stressors could include the daily juggle to fit in activities. Low-level stressors could include a broken towel rack, a bad pillow, or a cell phone that beeps and glows at night in your bedroom. It could be that your underwear or bras don’t fit properly, but you haven’t taken the time to upgrade them.
Feeling too busy most of the time is a stressor.
Sometimes the mid and low-level stressors are actually more dangerous, because they stay around longer, and you start to accept them as “the new normal.” You tolerate things that don’t work well or a schedule that feels too busy. You hold yourself to the same standards and expect yourself to keep delivering great meals and experiences for your family even though you’re stressed.
It’s wonderful to practice stress management when you get some moments to yourself to exercise, do yoga, meditate, sleep, or enjoy a personal hobby. I’m a big fan of all of those things! But today I’m sharing with you some quick tips to reduce stress, even when you don’t get that self-care time.
Take care of the low-hanging fruit (low-level stressors).If there are some annoying things that keep you from sleeping well, or doing what you need to do during the day, begin taking care of these low-level stressors before they become chronic. Order the new towel rack, pay someone else to clean your car, and find that window of time to get some new underwear if you need it or just want it.
If you hear yourself saying, out loud or in your head, “I’m so busy,” see what you can do to open up any white space. Keep your goal list as short as possible and leave unscheduled time on your calendar. Making to-do lists and overscheduling ourselves is a habit that can be unlearned. It may be tied to family and cultural values about being productive.
Practice mindfulness on the go with three breaths and walking mantras. Even when you can’t sit down and meditate or go to yoga class, you can practice mindfulness in simple, portable, and invisible ways.
Take three breaths before you start the car, when you stop the car, and at stoplights. Take three breaths before you eat and before you say something you’re not sure about. Do it before you get out of bed and while you’re on the toilet. It’s always a good idea to take three breaths.
I use mantras in a similar way. A mantra is simply a word or word phrase you repeat in your head. I say these mantras while walking, and while doing daily activities. I also use them when I feel low energy.
“Just this breath.”
“Thank you, God.”
“Be Here Now.”
“Peace peace peace peace peace….”
Any mantra can work for you. Just make one up! The important thing is that it should feel good to you when you use it.
Enjoy your body! This might seem a bit racy, but it’s no secret that sex and sensuality help reduce stress. It’s very easy to get into a pattern of ignoring our body’s sensuality and sexuality while we “get everything done” or to think we’ll feel sexier “when we’re in better shape.” It’s great to have more sex with a loving partner, but don’t rely on that as your only outlet. And don’t wait for an ideal shape or weight. Enjoy the feel of your body in the shower, before you get out of bed in the morning, or as part of your dressing routine. This could be sexual but it doesn’t have to be. You can simply enjoy the feel of your own skin or place your hand on the curve of your hip while you’re standing around waiting for something. If you enjoy dancing, dance!
You may have some other ideas for fast and effective ways to be mindful and reduce stress in the midst of daily life! We’d love to hear from you. What one action step will you take this week to practice mindfulness?
Thank you Joan Craig for your contribution to Moms4health.com!
Joan helps active adults stay strong, balanced, and energized through movement, education, and mindset shifts that make healthy choices joyful and fun.
Find out more at https://choosejoyfulhealth.com/