Learn amazing ways to use your mind so you stay calm and avoid that overwhelmed feeling
It’s no secret that having a baby ups your natural mode to a constant state of fast-forward. And, while you may be pro(ish) at juggling night feeds, nappies and nursery runs, it’s no wonder finding a moment to relax and just be yourself is hard to come by. Research from the University of California suggests babies pick up on our emotions and, when we’re feeling stressed, they start to feel anxious, too. So, what if, instead of trying to create extra time you just don’t have, you could bring a calming, mood-boosting technique into your current routine? We’ve discovered an effective (not to mention free) one to try. And, don’t worry, there are no downward dogs involved.
Learn to meditate
This practice is based on the idea that your body follows your mind. So, by settling your thoughts, you can improve your sleep and stress levels. US research suggests daily meditation can be as effective as medication in treating mild anxiety, too. It's particularly good for working some calm into your day (that’ll be all of us, then).
Do it daily
If you tend to grab toast as you head out the door, slow things down and pay attention to each mouthful. ‘Recognise how the food feels on your lips, the way you’re chewing and
the taste,’ says Jillian Lavender, director of the London Meditation Centre. ‘Doing everything on the run puts your body in a state of panic, which raises the stress hormone cortisol.’ This means setting your alarm before your baby wakes could be a stress-saving strategy to begin the day.
Discover your golden window of calm
Once you’ve put your baby to bed, help the buzz of your thoughts subside, so you don’t carry the day’s stresses into the evening. ‘Sit somewhere comfortable, then tune into your sense of sound. Take 20 seconds, noting the noises around you,’ says Jillian. ‘Move onto sight, identifying what you see, then the aromas in the air. Taste is about flavours in your mouth, while touch is what you feel on your skin.’
To treat a headache, soothe your senses with this exercise. ‘Close your eyes and let your attention rest on the dominant sensation in your body – whether it’s a tingle in your temples or a tightness in your chest,’ says Jillian. ‘After a moment, it’ll start to dissolve until another sensation becomes more important. Do the same exercise around that feeling, then elsewhere. You’ll start to relax, which will, in turn, ease any tension aches.’
And when you are stressed...
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try the So Hum mantra. Take a deep breath through your nose while thinking the word ‘So’, then slowly exhale with the word ‘Hum’. ‘Pay attention to your chest rising and how the air feels passing your lips,’ says Jillian.