Becoming a new parent is exciting, but it’s also extremely tough. No matter how many books you’ve read, or how much advice you’ve gathered throughout your pregnancy, nothing can prepare you for the challenges ahead!
It’s common for new parents to quickly find themselves run down, stressed and struggling to cope with the demands of their newborn. Lack of sleep, increased worry and simply not seeming to have anywhere near as many hours in the day as you need to get everything done, can leave you feeling exhausted, deflated and emotionally drained.
Although it is common to feel like this, it doesn’t mean you have to just ride it out. There are a lot of techniques and methods to cope with the struggles of being a new parent and mindfulness is proving to be one of the most popular and effective methods around.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is essentially learning to embrace the present moment. These days, life is spent at a constant hectic speed; especially when you become a parent. Without even realizing it, most of us are constantly thinking about and working towards the future. While this is completely natural and there’s certainly nothing wrong in looking and working towards the future, it’s also important to ensure you’re living in and appreciating the present moment.
Being aware of your feelings and thoughts in the present is said to have awesome benefits on your mental wellbeing. Through mindfulness, you’ll learn how to reconnect with your body and control your thoughts and feelings. So, how exactly can this help with parenting?
The Benefits Of Mindfulness In Parenting
Perhaps the biggest benefit of learning mindfulness as a new parent, is the fact it can help you to really enjoy and appreciate the time with your baby.
There’s a lot of challenges that come from being a new parent and you’re forced to quickly learn a lot of new skills such as changing diapers and swaddling. Many new parents end up spending so much time worrying about the responsibilities of parenthood that they simply don’t have the mental capacity to simply enjoy the moment with their little one.
Mindfulness can also help you become calmer and happier which will also greatly benefit both you and baby. It significantly helps to lower stress levels too, which make parenthood much easier to cope with.
So, now you know what mindfulness is and how it can help, the question is how can you put it into practice?
Mindfulness Tips For New Parents
Below you’ll discover some of the best mindfulness techniques for new parents to try out. It’s worth noting here that although many of them sound really simple, they’re actually pretty tough to put into practice.
When your mind is so used to thinking and acting a certain way, it can be difficult to change it. However, the key is to practice and start to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. The more frequently you follow the techniques below, the easier they will become.
So, let’s look at the best mindfulness techniques you can try out right now…
1. Stop And Breathe
One of the first things you learn with mindfulness, is the benefit of long, slow, deep breathing. When you’re a new parent, it’s easy to get overwhelmed; especially when you’ve had very little sleep. The trouble is, the more overwhelmed you feel, the more stressed you become and it keeps a negative energy cycle going.
Learning to just stop, close your eyes and breathe slowly is one of the simplest and quickest mindfulness techniques you can use to take control of the situation. Try and count to five, focusing solely on your breath. Follow it as the air travels through the mouth, down the chest and into the tummy. Then, follow it on the way back out of the body.
This breathing technique won’t just lower your stress levels, it will also help to boost focus and concentration – something all new parents need in abundance!
2. Analyze Your Expectations
Sometimes, the reason new parents become overly stressed is because they have a certain expectation of what parenthood should be. They compare their baby to others and feel frustrated if the reality doesn’t measure up to the expectation.
It’s actually quite normal to have expectations about parenthood and how babies should behave. This is especially true when you have well-meaning strangers, friends, colleagues and family telling you what to expect. However, what you need to realize is that each baby is different. This is your parenting journey and it isn’t going to be the same as everyone else’s.
So, rather than stressing out that your little one is different, embrace that fact and adjust your parenting to suit them. Analyze your expectations and figure out whether they are realistic or whether they’re preventing you from really enjoying your new parenting experience.
3. Try Out Mindful Walking
Mindful walking is a fantastic way to calm the mind when you’re trying to settle your baby. When you think about mindful walking, typically you might logically associate it with walking outdoors. However, you can participate in mindful walking absolutely anywhere – even your own home!
The key is to focus on your breathing as mentioned in the first tip above. Then, as you walk, whether it be in the park or pacing your home, move the focus from your breath to your feet. Count the number of steps you’re taking, notice the way the floor feels and how your weight adjusts with each step. Start to identify any tense areas and then let that tension go. Walk slowly and continue focusing on the actual process, taking in as much detail as you possibly can.
You’ll be amazed how much of a difference this can make to your mindset. By the time you’ve finished you might even realize baby is now sleeping and you feel completely relaxed.
These are just three mindful parenting tips. It’s basically about calming the mind and focusing fully on the present. The effect it has on your wellbeing is astounding and it’s something you can take part in no matter where you are.
Overall, it’s not easy being a new parent and one of the hardest things is learning how to relax. Mindfulness is a fantastic way to reduce stress and simply enjoy parenthood. It may take a little practice, but once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll find it easy to incorporate mindfulness into every aspect of your life.