A quick recipe for positivity

positive cupcakes

Do you often pause at the words “delicious 4 ingredient recipe” or “healthy and quick family meal”?  I love the idea that we can do something that’s good for us in a quick and simple way, and when we find a quick recipe that works we tend to repeat it often don’t we.

So, how about a straightforward recipe to boost your wellbeing?  Stay with me and I promise this won’t take long – it’s just 5 quick questions to stir up your positive emotions.

1.      What’s the best thing you heard today?

Did you have a great chat with a friend or listen to an interesting or funny podcast? It could have been your child laughing or the sound of the kettle boiling in a quiet house which gave you a feeling of fabulous serenity. 

2.      What was the best thing you saw today?

We see so much in a day that you may need a moment to sort through your memories.  Look out for flashes of beauty that inspired you, or information that you found particularly interesting.  Recently after days of internet issues I saw the lights come back up on the modem!  I felt joy, gratitude and a bit of pride that I’d finally sorted out the problem! 

3.      What was the best thing someone did for you?

This is your chance to focus on feeling gratitude!  Gratitude encourages us to savour the good things in our life and regular expression of gratitude has been shown to improve mental and physical health over time.  For an extra boost of love and joy, you could let the person you’re grateful to know that their action meant a lot.

4.      What was the best thing you did for someone?

Now the spotlight is back on you!  Every day we automatically care for those around us and perhaps don’t realise we’re making a true difference.  Please remember that even the simple act of chatting to your child at bedtime means a lot to them and is worth noticing when you take stock of your day.

5.      What can I improve on tomorrow?

This final question is all about feeling hope!  It’s a reminder that you can choose what to focus on. If something didn’t happen quite as you would have preferred today, you can plan to try a different option tomorrow.  I’m resolving to pick my battles with my kids and to try to leave home 10 minutes early when I suspect parking is going to be tricky.  How about you?

How does this help?

Extensive research in the area of positive emotions show that regularly experiencing feelings of love, joy, interest, gratitude, pride, amusement, awe, hope, serenity and inspiration leads to greater positivity and increased wellbeing. We all have the capacity for these emotions but it’s up to us to notice them and pay attention to them.

We hope these 5 questions can help you to detect positive moments in your day and treasure them!

With love,
Flourishing Mothers

PS. These questions can also spark great conversations with kids and partners and make a change from “so tell me about your day darling...”

Flourishing Mothers were inspired by the work of Barbara Fredrickson

Moments of Mindfulness - relaxation busy mothers can find time for!

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)