How Meditation Can Benefit New Mothers
Being a mother is equivalent to holding down more than two full time jobs, with a typical mum clocking in a 14-hour shift every day, according to a study in the U.S. The early starts and late finishes, the endless chores, schooling and the responsibility of nurturing a human being, can often lead to mums feeling exhausted – both mentally and physically.
Whether you’re a new mother transitioning to life with a baby, or you have a tantrum-ing toddler or a teenager, it’s so important that you take a few precious minutes to refocus – emotionally, physically and spiritually.
While feeling tired often goes hand in hand with motherhood – and is expected – it’s integral not to let fatigue overwhelm you.
Meditation is a great way to help you cope with motherhood that little bit better, and it’ll only take a few minutes everyday.
How will meditation help me?
It’s convenient and you can do it from wherever you like, and whenever you can.
You can do it from the comfort of your own home – from your bed, at the side of your kid’s bed when you’re putting him or her to sleep, on the toilet (!) – wherever you can get a few minutes. There are many types of meditation, but the backbone of meditation is seeking a relaxed state, to become mentally clear and refreshed.
If you have a few minutes to yourself, then why don’t you try this simple exercise:
Sit in an upright position, close your eyes, take a deep inhale from your nose. Hold that breath for a second, and store it in your abdomen and then exhale through your mouth – you may make a ‘whooshing’ noise as you breathe out. Repeat this simple breathing exercise, and while you’re exhaling, imagine releasing all your frustrations, tiredness or anything else that may be irritating you.
Once you feel you have a sense of calm, refocus on the good things – your family, your relationships, being you, or whatever positives are in your life. This is a particularly good exercise for when you’re feeling stressed.
How do I focus on the positive?
We’ve also chosen some focal points to help you concentrate on:
If you’ve just given birth to your first little one, or you’re on your second or third child, this is a period filled with immense joy – there’s nothing better than the feel of a new baby – but at times, happiness is also intermingled with some sadness and despair. Yes, hormones have a big part to play in feeling the baby blues, but also sleep depravation and simply not knowing if you’re doing something right or not (you probably are!) can lead to stress and worry.
Firstly, if you feel that this maybe more than the case of baby blues, it’s very important to see a medical specialist in case you have postpartum depression.
However, if you’ve been given the medical OK, we can learn that by focusing on the present moment, can help you push aside any negative feelings and connect better with the enjoyment of motherhood.
In fact, you certainly don’t have to be a new mother to use this technique, being present is applicable for all walks of life. To be more present, you can focus on one moment – feeding your baby, conversations with your child, their joy at eating ice cream, whatever you like – and simply focus on that for a short while. Essentially, being mindful will elevate your spirit.
Vipassana meditation in which you can strengthen your control over thoughts and feelings to lessen stress, anxiety and other problems may stop you from feeling joyful, can be particularly helpful. When you feel that you’re overthinking something (which school do you choose for your child? Are they eating enough? Do they sleep long enough? – the list is endless) Vipassana can help you see things as they are – the reality- and overcome any negativity.
Is it OK to cry?
The answer is a resounding yes! But it’s important to understand why you’re crying.
Crying is usually in response to emotions – this may be caused by hormones, but sometimes it’s everything – being a mother can be isolating, stressful, full of anxiety, but also there’s immense happiness and an appreciation of life and simple moments.
Crying can often have a self-soothing effect, and help calm and regulate emotions. Tests have also proven that tears contain a number of stress hormones, so crying could reduce these chemicals in the body.
On top of that, crying could help you sleep better given it’s calming and relaxing effects.
How can I sleep better?
This is the million dollar question. It’s often difficult to get a good night’s sleep when you have children, regardless of their age – if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Worry can often keep parents up at night, and switching off can be nigh impossible at times. However, it’s possible to use some meditation techniques to help you find a better night’s sleep.
The key is to relax, so try these simple exercises, especially if you’ve been woken up in the middle of the night and need to get back to sleep:
Stay lying down and inhale through your nose, then hold your breath in your abdomen for a moment, and as you exhale feel your head relax and allow the day’s energy leave your body. Repeat this process for the neck, shoulders, chest, stomach and move down your whole body. As each part of your body relaxes, find a deep sense of relaxation as your energy levels drop.
Have you tried a mantra? Mantras are basically a single word or phrase that you can repeat over again, for however long you have. Mantras can help cut out the internal noise made by your own mind as you turn your attention to a single, affirmative phrase. People find that a mantra can help free them from distraction, negative thoughts or anxiety, especially as they come late at night.
An example of a good sleep mantra, would be: “I am grateful for sleep and rest.” You can create your own personal mantra.
How can I feel more emotionally energetic?
It goes without saying that if you sleep well, you’ll have more energy during the day. And everyone knows that having children demands 110% of your physical energy.
Exercise is integral for keeping your energy levels up. Sometimes, just 10 minutes a day is all you need to get the blood pumping – going to the park with your kids, playing tag, trying some yoga. Physical energy goes hand in hand with emotional energy, and it’s important to monitor the latter – when you’re feeling sluggish, drained and low inside of yourself.
Low emotional energy can often be linked to your solar plexus chakra – we have seven chakras located throughout our body which are basically energy points and each one plays a different role.
The solar plexus chakra is linked with our inner fire, energy and self-esteem. If it’s ‘blocked’, this could make you feel a bit disconnected. In some cases, it could be another of your chakras, like your creative centre, which is blocked or imbalanced.
Trust your instincts, trust yourself
Finally, the most important point of all – trust that whatever you’re doing is right. As mothers, we always second doubt ourselves, but ultimately our maternal instincts will always lead us to do the right thing for our child. We have to learn to trust ourselves and eliminate self doubt.
Try out this exercise to help you learn to trust yourself better:
- Close your eyes or have a soft gaze in a comfortable position and start breathing naturally.
- As you breathe, place one or both of your hands on your heart and note your mental, physical and emotional states.
- Now conjure up a small situation in which you needed some help. Each time you do this, think about the actions you would’ve taken and feel the emotions in your body. If there’s no feeling to a particular action, then move on.
- Your body will give you a positive feeling when you come across a good decision. Let this positivity wash through your body and mind.
- Feel grateful for yourself and your intuitions. Finally take a deep exhale.