Seven keys to peace of mind for busy mums
Aaah….peace of mind on the school run…the dream of the busy mum?
You get up in the morning, wishing you could have more sleep, and manage to grab a cup of coffee and a shower before it is time to get the kids up. Breakfasts, supervising or supporting them as they get dressed, locate missing items of school uniform and homework, making packed lunches, persuading them that yes, it IS important that they brush their teeth, and no, rubbing toothpaste on with their fingers doesn’t count, bundling them out of the house and into school on time, your nerves are on edge before you even get in the car to head to work.
Then you’ve got the traffic to deal with. “Why can’t other people drive properly?” “Why is there another red light” “Why can I never find anywhere to park?”.
Your working day is a constant stream of interruptions, notifications, meetings that seem to achieve little. When you get in the car at the end of the day wondering if you managed to achieve anything. You barely had time to eat, drank more coffee than you should have, and feel tired but wired.
Back home, collect the kids, and let the evening madness begin — homework, housework, deciding what to cook, trying to get everyone to eat the same things, dealing with the problems that have occurred throughout the day. You love them dearly, of course you do. You like to make sure that you always have some quality time with them every day. But it always seems that whatever you are doing, there are always at least 20 other things you *should* be doing. You feel like you’re teetering on the edge of losing it completely
You end your evening slumped in front of the TV fighting the vague sensation that something isn’t quite right. There ought to be more fun in your days. You go to bed exhausted, struggle to get to sleep, and after what feels like hours of tossing and turning, you drop into a restless sleep and the whole thing begins again tomorrow.
While you cannot ditch your responsibilities to your work and your family, there are ways you can preserve your wellbeing and sanity and find your path to peace of mind and happiness
How to find peace of mind when everyone demands your time and attention
Yes, I had to mention this one first didn’t I?
The perfect first port of call for any stress/overwhelm/anxiety/exhaustion problems, good breathing helps to restore health and wellbeing very effectively. When you feel at the point of eruption, when you feel so overwhelmed with all the conflicting demands on your time, when you feel drained and exhausted, take a minute to close your eyes (not when driving obvs!) and take a few deep breaths. The restorative power of the breath means that just three deep breaths, breathing into the whole lung, will create a shift, allow your nervous system to calm down, and give you space to think. The breath is a powerful companion on the road to peace of mind.
Be kind to yourself
The Yogic principle of Ahimsa means ‘non harming’. Have you set up a life that harms you? Do you allow yourself to take on more than you should? Are you neglecting to take care of your basic health needs? Do you spend lots of time thinking about how you *should* be acting, or how so and so seems to have it all under control so why don’t you?
A powerful affirmation I was given at the start of my Yoga teacher training is ‘Don’t judge, don’t compare, don’t beat yourself up’. If you can remember this and say it to yourself at least once a day, you may find that life starts to feel a little different.
Are you trying to do everything, to control everything, to make sure that everything works out just right? I remember I used to ask my kids to hang the washing up, then get annoyed because they didn’t do it my way! Let other people take some of your burden, it doesn’t matter if things don’t get done the way you would do them. Teach the kids how to help around the house and accept their efforts.
Letting go of attachment to the outcome of your efforts is a very powerful and liberating thing to do — you do the best you can, and then allow the outcome to be what it is. We humans tend to take it very personally when our efforts don’t produce the exact desired impact we want, but all we can EVER control is what we do — we cannot control the outcome. I can only write this post to the best of my ability, I cannot control who sees it or what impact it has, and if I worry about that, in all honesty, I will never publish it, so it will never have the chance to impact anyone!
Do the best you can, but don’t push yourself to anxiety over it, do the best you can with the resources you have available for it, and let go.
Appreciation the good things
In a stressed and busy life, it can be very easy to lose sight of the gifts you have in your life. But the problem with that is when you are only looking at how hard life is, you only have hardship. The human mind has a very busy filtering system that tells us what we see based on what we have programmed it to see. So if you only ever focus on negative thoughts, you will only see the negative things.
Spend a few minutes each day focusing on reasons you are grateful in life. They can be very small things, they can be very mundane things, they could be big and exciting, it really doesn’t matter. Focusing on reasons to be grateful offers a huge range of benefits to mental and physical health, and helps you to find solutions to problems, to see lessons and opportunities in obstacles that come your way.
Practice extreme self care
If you give your all to your work, your friends, your partner, your kids, but never take care of your own needs, you will, sooner or later, find that you are ‘running on fumes’ and are unable to cope. You need to carve out some time that is yours to ensure that you ‘fill yourself up’ and give yourself some me time.
Self care is seen by some as selfish, but the opposite is actually true. Prioritising your own self care ensures that you have enough emotional and physical resources to enable you to be fully present in your other responsibilities, so you can give fully to others. Also, if you have children, it sends them a valuable message — it shows your daughter that she too can take care of herself, and it shows your son that women are not merely at the beck and call of others, messages they will take into their adult life.
Break down overwhelming tasks into smaller tasks, and work out what one thing you need to do first. What will create the maximum impact in the shortest space of time so that you get a feeling of meaningful completion that takes you closer to the desired end goal? For example, if the kitchen in in chaos, I always like to start by piling dirty dishes neatly in one place, clearing away any rubbish, putting away any clean dishes in the drainer. These small tasks take very little time, but allow the chaos of the kitchen to subside, and make the task of cleaning the kitchen much easier.
This idea can be applied to work and home — breaking big tasks into smaller tasks allows you to create small wins, so you can celebrate success far sooner than if you just look at the big task. A big task can ONLY be completed through a series of small actions — even climbing Mt Everest can only be done one step at a time, so celebrate the little wins along the way.
Decluttering some space, whether in your workspace or your home, can create space not only in your physical environment, but also in your mind. Clutter around us can lead to cluttered thinking, and creating that space can allow life to flow easier.
Stillness and silence
The ultimate defence against stress and anxiety in a noisy, endlessly overstimulating world, appreciating stillness and silence is a powerful way to find peace of mind.
Simply sitting and being with yourself, training yourself and your mind to focus on the breath, to let go of the thoughts racing around in your mind, is a great way to let go of tension, overwhelm and anxiety.
You don’t have to try to empty your mind, and you don’t need to sit for hours to get the benefit of a meditative stillness. When you are first starting out, even a minute spent focusing on your breath will be a minute longer than you have probably ever focused on it before, and it will give you benefits.
In this video I talk you through a simple 10 minute practice you can try. If you start and/or end your day like this for a few days, you will start to see some clear benefits from it.
Whatever the demands that life places upon you, it is really important that you place taking care of yourself high up on the list of priorities. You are the most vital part of your world, and it is time you treated yourself as such!
Now, go and do that thing that makes you feel whole again, your kids will thank you for it!