The Microdose Self Care Tool Kit For Mums With ‘No Time For Self Care’
Research conducted by online community Mothersphere on 1,009 women in the UK found that 1 in 3 mums reported feeling driven to breaking point after facing the ‘pandemic juggle’ of homeschooling, working from home and extra childcare. The survey also found half of the respondents felt that they were in ‘dire need’ of self-care.
After the birth of my 2nd son, I found that I started losing my patience and snapping over unimportant things. I was on edge and couldn’t
be anything but impatient often more times than not. Sometimes I didn’t want to get out of the house and do things with the kids because it all felt too hard to get two kids under 2 out the front door.
I’d look around the house and see clumps of dog hair needing to be swept, fingerprints all over the windows, kids paint on the table, plates stacked high in the sink and there I’d be, still sitting in my yoga pants and nursing bra…wondering what on earth happened to ME? I was well and truly lost in motherhood. I was overwhelmed, exhausted and burnt out.
As a mum of 4 under the age of 7, I’ve had mum burnout more than once, but now that I am familiar with the signs and symptoms I can help myself before it spirals. I spent too long being bone tired, emotionally worn out, impatient and irritable. As a health coach and mindfulness practitioner, I’m on a mission to help other mums recognise when they might be more than just ‘mum tired’ and put tools and practices in place to help them get their mojo back and prevent burnout.
One of the biggest learnings is that self-care doesn’t need to take a long time to be effective. The phrase ‘self-care’ is plastered all over social media and the internet. So many mums avoid anything to do with self-care because they think they don’t have time for it.
BUT, what if you knew that just 2 minutes of mindfulness can make a BIG difference to how you feel daily?
A Power Pause
A “power pause” is a 2-minute micro mindfulness tool – the modern-day self-care solution for those that feel like they are too busy for self-care. These 2 minute tools are quick, simple and designed to be integrated into your day so they don’t feel like another thing on your already overwhelming ‘to do’ list.
Self-care doesn’t need to take a long time to be powerful. Just 2 minutes can make a big difference to your wellbeing, and you can microdose on these Power Pause moments to keep you going throughout your day. So this is where my Power Pause tools come into play. This is self-care without overwhelm.
Can 2 minutes really work? Yes!
There is real power in a pause. A moment of mindfulness improves the brain’s ability to process under stress. It trains us to shift our response away from our primitive, survival reaction, to access more recently developed parts of the brain, in particular,
the prefrontal cortex with it’s capacity for reasoning, flexibility and empathy. Not only does pausing promote better reactions to stress, a break from ‘doing mode’ and a shift into ‘being mode’ also refreshes and re-energises you for hours. Taking time to ‘just be’ gives your nervous system a chance to regain balance.
You can lean in on any of these “power pause” tools whenever you feel like you need to press the reset button on your mood or stress levels. You will come away from each practice with a little more patience, love, and kindness – for yourself and others around you too.
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There really is power in the pause. It can:
- Recharge your energy
- Gain access to your inner wisdom
- Calm, ground and centre yourself
- Dial down stress
- Feel more connected
- Feel more nurtured and cared for
- Lift your mood
- Reset your headspace
- A power pause can be the difference between losing your cool and taking the edge of overwhelm.
Cup of calm
If you are feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed, try this ‘cup of calm’ mindful moment.
- Make yourself a cup of your favourite warm drink and sit down.
- We are going to use our senses to focus our mind on the present moment – enjoying the drink… you are basically really soaking in and being grateful for all the offerings to your senses that your cuppa has to offer you.
- First bring awareness to your sense of sight. What can you see? The colour of the drink, the cup you are drinking from, the patterns
- Then bring your awareness to the sense of touch. What can you feel? The warmth of the cup in your hand, the texture of the cup.
- Now bring your awareness to the sense of taste. Drink your tea and really savour the flavour.
Take a few deep, grounding breaths. And mindfully enjoy your hot drink.
- Return gently to the senses or your breath whenever you notice your mind straying into thought.
30 Second Micro Grounding
- Hold an interesting object in your hands. I keep gems and crystals on my desk just for this purpose. Anything with an interesting shape, or texture is good – a pine cone is great for this!
- Hold the object in your hand and really bring your full focus to what you can SEE. Look at the patterns that run through it, the colour variances. Where light and shadows fall. Maybe there are shapes that form within the object.
- Now focus on what you can FEEL. Focus on how heavy or light it is in your hand and what the surface texture feels like under your fingers.
- If you know you are going into a stressful situation, take one of your favourite small objects and put it in your pocket so you can do this calming exercise on the go.
4 – 7- 8 breath
Do you ever get to mid-afternoon and feel a bit frazzled, unmotivated and uninspired? It might be because you haven’t been breathing optimally? Most of us go through the entire day’s shallow chest breathing and don’t take a single long, full, deep purposeful breath. Energy boosting breathwork can be better than caffeine! If you aren’t breathing optimally you are robbing yourself of your energy lifeforce – oxygen. Give this a try:
- Exhale through your mouth to fully empty your lungs
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4
- Hold for a count of 7
- Breathe out through your mouth for a count of 8
- Repeat steps 2-4 four to six times
Lou Barton, founder of Live Well With Lou,specialises in health coaching for burnout mums seeking greater balance and alignment. She retrained as a health coach after suffering from postnatal depletion after the birth of her second son.
Lou studied at the Institute of Integrated Nutrition (IIN), where she studied over 100 dietary theories, learned innovative coaching methods and practical lifestyle medicine with some of the world’s top health and wellness experts. Additionally Lou has specialist training in hormone health (IIN), as well as being a 10 of zen mindfulness teacher for mums.