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  • April

Staying Present: Mindfulness Techniques for Busy Moms

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Mindfulness is a practice that has gained popularity in recent years, and for good reason. It has been shown to reduce stress, improve focus, and increase overall well-being. It is no surprise that many moms have turned to mindfulness as a way to cope with the everyday challenges of motherhood. It's helped me tremendously, and when I take a break from it, I can really feel the effects, which makes me appreciate it that much more.

Mindfulness can help moms stay present in the moment and appreciate the joys of motherhood, even during the most difficult times. It can also help moms manage stress and anxiety, which are common experiences for many new (and old!) mothers. By practicing mindfulness, moms can learn to be more patient, compassionate, and understanding with themselves and their children.

My mindfulness and meditation journey actually started well before I was a mother, when I took a college course focused on this topic. Though I dabbled on and off with meditation for the better part of a decade, I really didn't embrace it until I had a 1 year old and COVID was well underway. A friend of mine recommended the book "Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance" by Emily Fletcher. I whizzed through the audio version of the book and as a result, I quickly signed up for her 15-day Masterclass on Ziva Meditation. It was the perfect storm of reading this book and getting hooked on the idea of what meditation could do for my health, having lots of at-home time in early COVID days, and having a sensitive, precocious 1-year old that would at times drive me bonkers, that just made meditation stick this time around. And I'm so glad it did.

The Importance of Mindfulness and Meditation (Especially for Moms!)

woman meditating, shown from the top of the head down

Motherhood can be an overwhelming experience, filled with joy, love, and challenges. It is a constant juggling act of caring for the needs of the child, the family, and oneself. Mindfulness and meditation can be powerful tools for moms to navigate the ups and downs of motherhood and promote their well-being.

Research has shown that mindfulness and meditation practices can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and improve emotional regulation, cognitive flexibility, and overall well-being. These benefits can be particularly valuable for mothers, who often experience high levels of stress and emotional demands. I personally suffered pretty tough post-partum anxiety and depression without even really realizing what I was going through for pretty much a whole year after my first son was born, and I wish I had turned to meditation earlier to help alleviate these symptoms. But better late than never!

In addition to improving mental health and well-being, mindfulness can also have physical benefits for moms. Research has shown that mindfulness can reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and improve immune function. These benefits can be especially important for mothers who may be experiencing physical stressors such as sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, and postpartum recovery. Keep reading for some of the ways I track these biomarkers to track how well meditation is working for me.

Mindfulness and meditation can also enhance the mother-child relationship. Studies have shown that mothers who practice mindfulness during pregnancy and early motherhood have better bonding with their infants and are more attuned to their emotional needs. I can personally attest that I meditated regularly throughout my second pregnancy, and I do think it helped!

Mindfulness Techniques for Busy Moms & Tools to Support Your Meditation Practice

beach with 5 stones stacked on top of each other

Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment with non-judgmental awareness, while meditation involves intentionally focusing the mind on a particular object or sensation. Both practices can help moms cultivate self-awareness, self-compassion, and resilience, which can support them in their role as caregivers. Ziva Meditation, what I practice today, is related to Transcendental Meditation, wherein you repeatedly recite a mantra. This mantra, a sound devoid of any particular meaning, serves as a tool to help calm your mind. The goal is to concentrate solely on this mantra, striving to reach a state of complete tranquility and awareness.

What I really like about the Ziva technique in particular, and I think why I've stuck with it consistently for so long, is that it has 3 parts: Mindfulness, Meditation, and Manifesting, which Fletcher likens to a 3-course meal with the appetizer, main course, and dessert. First off, you start by cycling through your 5 senses to ground yourself in the present - this is the Mindfulness appetizer. Second is the main course, the mantra-based Meditation section, which lasts about 5-15 minutes depending on how much time you have. Here, you repeat your mantra and let other thoughts come and go, always coming back to your mantra. Lastly is Manifesting, the dessert course. In this final portion of the session, you picture yourself in a positive future situation or circumstance, accomplishing a goal or doing something fun with loved ones.

I personally really like the structure this technique provides, but of course there are loads of different styles of meditation, depending on your personal preferences and what most resonates with you. With that are plenty of apps out there to help guide your meditation journey - there's a mindfulness technique for every busy mom out there. I've been using the Core meditation device and app for the past year or so, even though I don't use any of their guided meditations (though they have an excellent library). What I love about the Core is the gentle vibration during the session, which shuts off at the end of your timed meditation, so you're not jarred back to reality with a loud alarm which sometimes will undo the gains of the meditation itself! It also tracks heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV) so you can literally see yourself improving over time. As a data geek, I love this.

Starting Small

neon sign that says "breathe" hung in a forest

Practicing mindfulness and meditation does not have to be time-consuming or complicated. Even a few minutes of mindful breathing or meditation can make a difference in reducing stress and promoting well-being. You can incorporate mindfulness and meditation practices into their daily routines, such as during feeding or diaper changes, or before going to bed. You don't need any fancy incense, chair, or location - just find a comfortable place to sit and breathe.

I personally meditate right before I start work and at the end of my work day, before transitioning down to make dinner for the kiddos. I find it's a helpful way to bookend my work day and mentally transition in a work-from-home, no-barriers world.

Closing Thoughts

Being a new mom can be TOUGH. You're trying to figure out how to take care of this tiny human while dealing with sleepless nights and all sorts of stress. That's where mindfulness comes in. It's like a secret weapon that helps you stay chill and focused, even when you're running on two hours of sleep.

When you practice mindfulness, you learn how to meet your baby's needs with a lot more patience and love, instead of getting frustrated or upset. It's all about responding, not reacting.

And the best part? Mindfulness isn't just good for your baby, it's great for you too. It can boost your mental and physical health, strengthen your bond with your little one, and make navigating the rollercoaster of motherhood a bit smoother. So, why not give it a try? It might just be the resilience booster you need!

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