Taking care of yourself and finding a moment for mindfulness isn’t always easy, even for those who’ve practised it for years. Here, columnist Grace Victory shares her own struggles to refill her cup, and offers four simple ways to bring mindfulness into your everyday life – even when it’s tough
It’s actually ironic that I’m sitting here writing this piece when my own everyday mindfulness practices are the worst they’ve been in years.
I just can’t seem to find my flow or motivation. Life is full-on right now, with big personal things (and some professional), so I know I need to find pockets of peace to benefit my overall health, but it just feels too hard.
I barely get a chance to pee by myself at the moment, and any ‘alone time’ I’m lucky enough to find, I sleep, put on some washing, or cry due to feeling stressed. It’s a vicious cycle I’ve been in for a while, and I guess potentially the result of prioritising the wrong things and giving too much of myself to everyone – except myself.
I know this, yet I’m still here?!
I know the washing can wait, the vacuuming doesn’t have to be done right now, and I can cancel dinner for the second time with my friend because my toddler is teething, but the shame and lack of control over my life takes over.
Maybe a part of me still wants to have it all. Maybe a part of me is still grieving pieces of my life before I became a parent. Maybe a part of me wants to be a little bit more selfish, but recognises just how much her tiny human needs her.
I’m mindful of my thought patterns right now. They are darker than usual, and, if I’m honest, I spend a lot of my days trying not to spiral into a black hole that I don’t have the energy to crawl back out of. Previously, I relied heavily on rituals and spiritual practices that kept me grounded and afloat at the same time, but lately… I can’t seem to grasp them (mainly due to a lack of time, and mental and physical capacity).
The healing treatments, holistic methods, and wholesome things I used to do just don’t feel like ‘me’ any more. There’s a disconnect from the way I used to practise mindfulness and, all in all, I am struggling – and I’m saying this in the hope that someone else reading this month’s column will be able to relate, and maybe feel less alone? Because writing this, I too, feel extremely alone.
Not to be a total Debbie Downer though, I have mustered up the strength to put together four small-but-mighty ways we (together) can practise mindfulness in our everyday lives. Whether you’re a tired single parent, a stressed out university student, or a person who has yet to find their way with mindfulness, I hope this list helps in some way, and can be applied to your own lives.
1. Take 10 big, deep breaths when you’re having a wee
Honestly, there are days where the toilet becomes my safe space, and the only place I can get a minute of peace. We all have to use the bathroom, so let’s take relieving our bladders as a chance to relieve some tension and connect to ourselves, even if it’s just for a moment.
2. Allow yourself a five-minute stretch
It could be before or after the washing up, as your kid independently plays for a few minutes, or in the morning (set your alarm a couple of minutes early if you need to), but take five to check in with your body, and feel where you are holding stress, or negative thoughts. Our bodies keep the score of how our mental health is doing, so it’s important to be aware of the energy it’s holding. Stretch into those muscles and let shit go.
3. Nourish your body
Our wellbeing benefits so much from taking daily vitamins and supplements for our individual needs. Talk to a professional about what vitamins might work for you, so that you are giving your body what it needs. Take them with a big, big, big glass of water to stay hydrated, but to also regulate your breathing – which is a great tip if you experience anxiety. Drink, drink, drink!
4. Feel your feet underneath you
This is a great grounding technique to bring you into the present moment. So many of our anxious thoughts are rooted in the past or in the future, but if we are able to just be in the moment more often than not, then we are more likely to feel a sense of calm and peace. Ask yourself: what does the ground feel like? How does your body feel? Close your eyes, and describe what you can smell. Can you hear anything? Connecting to your senses and focusing on where you are, enables you to feel more balanced.
Essentially: strip things back, and tap into the basics. If medical trauma and motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes the bare minimum is enough. We don’t always have the privilege of indulging in lavish ways to improve how we feel in our day-to-day lives, but small things can impact us over time, and when we have the resources and energy to implement more advanced techniques, we can.
I’m with you. Let’s shake off the dense and heaviness together! I’m manifesting us all a better month.
Love Grace x
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