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Moms & Mindfulness: 5 Tips to Reduce Stress

nature 3“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.” ~ Jon Kabot-Zinn

As moms, it’s often hard to live in the moment. To really be present and mindful of what is happening within us and around us (especially with babies and toddlers underfoot). Our minds constantly churn with thoughts and judgments about ourselves and others. Feelings and emotions arise from those thoughts, and that can cause stress. And then there is the never ending to-do list! We are often going from one task to the next, just trying to get through the day while keeping our kids safe, fed, and occupied. All while trying to maintain our sanity.

Sometimes the days feel so long, but the years fly by. Before we know it our kids are a year older and we wonder how it happened. Where did the time go? Enjoying the present moment can be difficult, practicing mindfulness can help.

What is mindfulness?

According to Jon Kobot-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at U of Mass “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

Mindfulness is bringing awareness to our present moment; observing our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and environment. We allow ourselves to accept what is happening without judgment. By focusing on the present moment and observing our thoughts, feelings and environment, we aren’t worrying about the past or the future.

Studies show that practicing mindfulness for just a few weeks can bring huge benefits like reducing stress, improving immunity, and losing weight.

So how do we do it? We can practice mindfulness anytime and anywhere.

A great way to start is to get outside. Dayton is filled with wonderful parks, nature preserves, trails, and bike paths. Get the kids involved, they will love these 5 mindfulness exercises. These can be done if you are alone, pushing a stroller, strolling with toddlers or walking with the family.Jack

Using your 5 senses, take time to really pay attention and be present:

1. Use your ears. What do you hear? How many different birds can you hear? Now really listen, what else can you hear? Are there chipmunks and squirrels? Can you hear the sound of lawnmowers, airplanes or a trickling stream? When we really concentrate, a whole new environment opens up to us.

2. Use your nose. What do you smell? The aroma of freshly cut grass, flowers blooming or fresh mulch? Clear your mind and focus only on what you can smell. You might be surprised at what you were missing.

3. What do you feel? From the warm sun on your face to the bark of a tree to the wind in your hair. Is it warm or cold? Notice the feeling of your feet in your shoes. Is the path hard or soft? Become aware of the way your clothes feel against your skin.

4. Use your eyes. What do you see? Notice all the colors around you, how many different shades of green or brown do you see? What else do you see that you may have passed right by before?

5. Finally, notice your breath. Is your breathing heavy or shallow? Take time to inhale deeply and let it out slowly. Bring awareness to only your breathing. path

We’ve all been in nature many times. Of course we were aware of our surroundings, but we probably weren’t mindful of them.

Practicing these tips allows us to let go of all that clutters our mind. It reduces stress and calms the soul. Your kids will thank you for it.

I invite you to give it a try and share what you noticed!

 

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2 Responses to Moms & Mindfulness: 5 Tips to Reduce Stress

  1. Kate
    Kate June 9, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    I love me some mindfulness, genuinely know and feels it’s benefits…and somehow don’t practice it enough! Thanks for the reminder today as I making my monster to-do list….bah!

    • Valerie June 9, 2015 at 10:00 am #

      Awesome Kate! I have to remind myself to stay present and be mindful all the time, otherwise life just passes me by!