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How To Be Mindful When You Have No Time…

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I am on holiday this week, woop! I have taken the kids to see my parents and it is great. I have extra pairs of hands to hold them, bathe them, tickle them… Occasionally I even get help with nappies. Win.

But here’s the thing… While I have gained lots of help that I am very grateful for, I have also lost my usual routine. That means that even though I technically have more time on my hands I am actually very much struggling to find my usual ten minute a day meditation slot. It just seems rude to leave mum and dad to it and go off to meditate.

I know that mindfulness helps me to separate or “de-fuse” from my unhelpful thoughts and feelings (see my blog on handling unhelpful thoughts) and that is important for my wellbeing BUT I often feel that I “don’t have time” once I’m out of my normal patterns.

So I’m using the week to test out some of my best “on the go” mindfulness strategies. In order to be mindful we only really have to do the following four things: Notice the present moment, pay attention to one thing, focus the mind, bring it back when it wanders off. Simple.

Five “on the go” mindfulness strategies

  1. Mindful photography – I take a thousand photos of my children every day. Now I’m enhancing my wellbeing at the same time by stopping to appreciate one detail of the scene FULLY before I click the shutter. It could be the way the light bounces off my daughter’s hair or the way the sun feels on the back of my neck. Importantly it is one thing that I would not otherwise have noticed about the present moment. At the end of the day when the kids are in bed I then select one image I really like and ask my mind “what am I grateful for?” as I look at the image. It is a lovely way to bring some presence and appreciation into the day.
  2. Mindful buggy walking – I find focussing my mind on counting my steps as I walk helps me to focus when the babies are sleeping. When they are awake I narrate the environment for them, bringing mindful attention to all the little things toddlers find fascinating but usually pass grown ups by. I am often to be heard exclaiming “what an unusual stick!” The funny looks are understandable…
  3. Mindful eating – The first strategy you learn in mindfulness training is to eat something in a mindful way. Really noticing how it feels, tastes, smells etc. both before and during the eating process. This can be an excellent one for when you are doing a ridiculously long toddler tea time. Raisins work well and in my experience donuts taste gross this way but any food can be used to get a bit of mindfulness into your day.
  4. Mindful running – Oh the luxury! This is my favourite but it isn’t exactly easy for me to get out for a run most days given that I’m usually solo parenting and I have a hip that hates me. When I do it works in a similar way to walking but I find it is more effective to focus on my breath than counting paces. Something about repetitive exercise really helps the mind to focus so I recommend giving this one a go if you can. The headspace and Nike run club apps both have guided mindful runs you can try if you like having something in your ear buds to keep you going. Personally I prefer the quiet but that is probably because of the chaos at home!
  5. Mindful painting – I added this one because I have a client who inspires me with her use of mindful painting. She counts brush strokes and focuses her attention on the colours in her work. I cannot do this because I feel stressed even thinking about painting. I have issues left over from year 7 art lessons… But I know this can be very effective for many people so I thought I would share it. I do find I am able to be mindful while painting walls and have had many happy DIY afternoons mindfully decorating. Large, one colour projects are my forte!

These are the on the go mindfulness strategies I love the most and I would really like to hear how you get on with them too. Leave me a comment to let me know if you tried them and your experiences.

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Quick bio: I’m Dr Rosanna Gilderthorp, a Clinical Psychologist who helps women to overcome mental health difficulties and enjoy pregnancy, birth and parenthood. I offer therapy online and in Plymouth, UK. If you want to enhance your mental health you can book a free 20 minute consultation with me at www.mindbodyandbaby.net You can also read more from me on how to look after your mental health, even when you are SUPER busy, on my blog at https://mindbodyandbaby.net/blog/

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