During my years of motherhood I've come to the conclusion that finding a way to relax, to take a breath, to be more mindful, is essential to reaching anything remotely resembling a flourishing state.
When I'm able to step back a bit mentally from a situation and have a moment of deliberate calm, it's then I'm more likely to make decisions and react in ways that I can look back on with positive emotions. I'm a lot less likely to enter into a screaming match with my daughter or make threats I rationally don't want to go through with.
Positive Psychology research suggests that relaxation or mindfulness exercises can be useful to help calm a strong emotional response to stressful situations and they can provide a benefit even if you feel you can only spare a minute or two!
When you've got 1 minute
Place your hand just beneath your navel so you can feel the gentle rise and fall of your belly as you breathe. Breathe in. Pause for a count of three. Breathe out. Pause for a count of three. Continue to breathe deeply for one minute, pausing for a count of three after each inhalation and exhalation.
When you've got 2 minutes
While sitting, take a break from whatever you're doing and check your body for tension. Relax your facial muscles and allow your jaw to open slightly. Let your shoulders drop. Let your arms fall to your sides. Allow your hands to loosen so there are spaces between your fingers. Uncross your legs or ankles. Feel your thighs sink into your chair, letting your legs fall comfortably apart. Feel your shins and calves become heavier and your feet grow roots into the floor. Now breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly.
The beauty of these mini-relaxation exercises is that you can do them alone or with your baby in your arms or encourage an older child to do them with you. We'd love to hear if you find them of benefit!
Until next time.......
(Adapted by Flourishing Mothers from the Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, Stress Management, 2011)