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Six Ways To Everyday Serenity: A Mama’s Guide

Serenity is not usually a state associated with mothering.  I know that all too well.  But it doesn’t mean that we can’t experience it regularly. Surprisingly, all it takes is a few minutes and some practice.

Last year, I transitioned from a full-time position as a mental health therapist to stay-at-home mama.  Ironically, while my day is no longer filled with 50-minute sessions of practice, my therapist’s toolbox is still very much active.  Never did I think that using common coping strategies would help me survive the day-to-day stress of life with toddlers.  Yet, here I am, acknowledging that everyday serenity is closer than you might think.

So from one mama to another, here are six ways to get your zen on; even on the most chaotic of days:

Take a Mini Mental Vacation…

I would be lying if I said that I don’t fantasize about jet-setting to some tropical location to escape the endless parade of diapers, sea of scattered toys, and daily grind of motherhood. But alas, like most, our family’s budget and schedule does not allow for such a luxury.  Instead, taking just two minutes a day to get lost in imagery meditation can reduce stress and improve brain function, according to experts.  So how does one steal a mental getaway when Cheerios are crunching beneath your every step and Caillou haunts your ears?  If you can, find a quiet space and close your eyes.  Imagine yourself in your ideal serene scene.  Visualize the landscape, especially what you would be doing, or seeing.  Dwell on the smells, scents, and sounds that would flood around you.  The more specific you can be in your thoughts, the more effective your mental vacation will be.  Gently dismiss intrusive thoughts and stay in your vacation spot for as long as your time allows.

Count Your Blessings…

As William Penn once wrote, “the secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.”  When you’re in the trenches of motherhood, it’s easy to feel defeated and only see what’s going wrong.  However, a simple psychological exercise called Three Blessings can transform your attitude.  Challenge yourself to think of three things that have happened in your day that you are most happy about, and why you believed they happened.  Believe it or not, this incredibly basic strategy is tremendously effective.

March to Your Own Mama Mantra…

Developing words of comfort to calm the nagging negativity around us can be a mama’s best secret weapon.  Think of a quote, phrase, or compliment that you might find motivating or reassuring.  Recite it or post in a prominent place that you will notice often.  The more that you readily acknowledge these words, the more powerful they become.  Having trouble coming up with a mighty mama mantra?  Ask your partner, friend, or family member to write one for you.  Sometimes we are more apt to believe and subscribe to the encouragement of others, rather than our own inner voice.

Breathe Deeply…

We have all heard the wise words of others to take more breaths, but sometimes breathing deeply is what your body truly needs.  Many of us fall into the pattern of shallow breathing, which can actually inhibit lung function and prevent oxygen from effectively passing through our organs.  Becoming more mindful of your depth of breath can reduce stress and improve overall health.

Let Music Set You Free…

Calming music has been used for years to reduce stress and balance the mind-body connection.  I find that playing music in the car, house, or around bedtime can help to quiet the kids and reduce my own irritability.  Whether its acoustic guitar, classical piano, or your favorite throwback boyband, the next time you need some serenity, reach for the radio.  Don’t be afraid to belt it either; some studies have found that singing aloud can further decrease stress.

Make Your Own Mindful Moment…

Mindfulness is a growing trend these days among adults and children alike.  Perhaps it’s most attractive quality is that it’s as simple as it is effective.  To practice, allow yourself to completely focus on what you are doing and use your five senses to become more aware of what you see, smell, taste, hear, and feel.  Try your best to release distracting or competing thoughts and judgements.  You can do this while driving, doing the dishes, or playing with your kids.  I find that mindfulness can help improve memory, concentration, and appreciation of the task at hand.

Regardless of which strategies you use to add serenity to your life, your greatest strength lies in modeling this behavior.  The more we practice, the better we feel.  And the better we feel, the more our kids will want to emulate our joy.  Namaste mamas!

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