Parenting can get pretty stressful and challenging. Yet, as many parents would vouch, it is one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences in life!
Parenting a child with disabilities comes with its own unique set of challenges. Parents of children with autism and other related disorders have been known to experience high levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Parental stress is a serious issue, but it is often ignored. Self-care gets neglected and parents often end up with severe burnout. This might lead to a situation where parents may no longer be in a position to provide their wards with care and support to the best of their abilities.
Key to be able to manage this stress is, self-care. And one of the most impactful approaches to self-care is through mindfulness. In today’s blog post, we will discuss what mindfulness is, its benefits and a few simple mindfulness practices that one can integrate into their daily lives.
Mindfulness – What is it?
Mindfulness, in simple terms, means paying attention to or being in the moment, without passing any judgment.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Consider a situation where your child is having a meltdown when you are at the park or in a store. The most ideal response would be to first, realize and accept your anxiety and frustration at the situation. Next, you would want to focus on how to respond to their meltdown, without letting your thoughts affect your decision-making. This is one instance of mindful parenting
Practising mindfulness, can over time, enable one to approach any issue in a calmer, more systematic manner. It can help you to deal with tough times with greater strength and resilience. The ability to cope with any given situation improves significantly.
Mindfulness also promotes the ability of greater acceptance. Practising acceptance reduces stress. It also helps in better focusing on the present rather than worrying about the distant future.
In essence, mindfulness empowers one to look at oneself and life situations with kindness, love, and forgiveness. When the same mindfulness permeates all aspects of life and becomes a part of the way one approaches parenting, it is mindful parenting.
How to Practice Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is not a destination, it is a journey. It needs to be built slowly and steadily. And it will take time. Here are some simple ways in which one can start inculcating mindfulness into their lives:
The best place to begin mindfulness practice is by simply taking a walk! Put aside a few minutes every day to take a short walk. On the walk, will yourself to notice things around you and the act of your walk itself. While you are doing this, try to concentrate on the smallest details. Things that you would normally miss while being lost in your own thoughts.
In the beginning, it might seem rather tedious. Over time though, this will cease to seem like a task. You may even come to look forward to this walk! Slowly, try replicating the same during the routine tasks you undertake on a daily basis – be it brushing, bathing, cooking or driving.
Such conscious intake of your surroundings enables you to clear your mind of the constant swirl of thoughts and worries in there. As you master this technique, you can try observing your thoughts with similar concentration.
Bonus: This can be a great relaxation technique as well!
Simple breathing exercises can help with developing mindfulness. The basic exercise that you can start with is just the observation of your breath. Time yourself as you do this. Start at 20 seconds and slowly move upwards. There are many guided meditation apps that you can use to support this practice. These apps will give you guidance as well as tips to improve your practice.
During bedtime, try to include an app-guided meditation a couple of times a week. Body scanning technique is a great way to start practising mindfulness. This promotes great sleep, which is an added bonus!
With everyday practice, mindfulness can immensely help parents be more effective with their children. It also enables one to look at the bigger picture and not get caught up in the smaller things.. Mindfulness has several benefits and has absolutely no side effects. It can provide parents with useful coping techniques and help one to be more efficient in their daily activities.
Do you practice mindfulness? What are the techniques you use? Share your thoughts on this subject with us, in the comments section below. We look forward to hearing from you 🙂