What is mindful self-care & how to turn it into a daily routine?
Stress-reducing mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or yoga, are highly effective. This can now even be backed up by ample scientific evidence. BUT… Unfortunately, most of us fail when it comes to implementing those precious stress-relieving tools on a daily basis. Especially women have difficulties coping. 2020 has worsened the situation for women drastically. Now we even work from home next to our kids, who are self-centered by nature. Not only do they need to be entertained, but somehow we also have to tackle homeschooling. Meanwhile, we are supposed to please our clients, our employer and… Last but not least, you also want to fit in a bit of quality time with your partner, too.
Women are expected to be cool, calm, and collected, all while looking good at the same time… As a woman, you should show poise in every situation while dazzling those around you with a “radiant appearance”.
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How NOT to lose your sanity while juggling job & family
Once you give birth to your first child, life as you know it changes in an instant: Sleepless nights and a suddenly unpredictable daily rhythm become the new norm. Many women feel overwhelmed by all those changes. In addition, our hormones take us in new directions. This can have an unpleasant effect on our mood, and for many women also on the hips. To make things worse, there is hardly any time left to relax and hang out with friends, or simply letting your mind wander. And forget sports. But this does not mean we should wait inactively for better times to come.
Are mindfulness practices for mothers an illusion?
On the contrary, during challenging times it is vital to incorporate simple but effective mindfulness exercises into our daily routine. Does meditation work for mothers? Especially with small kids, it is hard for women to live mindfully day-in, day-out. It is almost impossible to implement stress-reducing activities when you are struggling to juggle work, home and family.
Are mindfulness practices for mothers an illusion?
How to integrate mindful self-care into a fast-paced lifestyle?
I am constantly in search of effective solutions to help working mothers achieve greater resilience. Some approaches have proven to be successful for me. There are great experts who provide profound knowledge and know-how regarding mindfulness-based solutions for everyday life. Kate Northrup talks in her book “Do Less”, about self-optimization for women. Kate (following the traits of feminism of her mother, Christiane Northrup), invites women to pay more attention to the female cycle and thus master life more effectively and resiliently.
As a matter of fact, self-mastery is vital for coping in this fast-paced society. One of your biggest assets might be mastering your capabilities, in order to bring greater value to yourself and others. Having said that, I also recommend the bestselling book from Kate Northrup to women who long for more financial self-determination “Money, A Love-Story”.
Unleashing a woman's superpowers: Live in sync with your cycle
The “Cycle Syncing” method by Alissa Vitti, the founder of FloLiving, invites women to live in sync with their feminine powers. If you allow yourself as a woman to live in harmony with the monthly cycle, you get so much more out of life: prosperity, health, beauty and contentment. This is old knowledge, newly interpreted for the 21st century!
You can compare your infradian rhythm to the four seasons. Our energy levels shift with our cycle. Over the past year, I have made an effort to live according to my female cycle. I prepare for new projects in the first half of my cycle and leave socializing, pitching or presentations for the ovulation days. Diving deep into projects works best later in the cycle, in the first part of the luteal phase. A few days before the menstrual phase and during menstruation, I allow myself to lean back and reflect. It is normal to have little energy on those days or feel less social. I have stopped beating myself up for it. If we manage to live in sync with our cycle, we encounter less resistance and we get far more done. Thus, cycle syncing is the best biohack for women I can think of.
Self-mastery for women: start with simple habits that stick
A tip in advance: Reduce your mindfulness exercises to the simplest level. They must fit into YOUR everyday life and meet YOUR needs. Take it slow. Small steps can have a big impact in the long run. Your plan to meditate for an hour a day is worthless when you discard the idea on day one when your kids disrupt your peaceful moment after the first 10 minutes.
Therefore, focus on tiny steps, such as short diaphragmatic breathing techniques, which you can also do while driving a car or cooking. Have you ever experienced anxiety when driving? On the other hand, have you ever experienced the stress-reducing effect of deep breathing when being stuck in traffic?
Deep breathing for keeping calm when being stuck in traffic
When I’m driving on busy roads or when I’m stuck in traffic, I manage to keep calm with the 4–7–8 technique by Dr. Andrew Weil. Deep inhale to the count of 4, hold the breath while counting to 7, exhale to the count of 8.
According to James Nestor, author of “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art”, the art of conscious breathing stems from ancient techniques like yoga and meditation. The best thing, you can perform it everywhere and you feel an effect instantly.
Breathwork stimulates the flow of energy in the body and helps with insomnia and digestive problems. It is even one of the most effective detox tools we have.
Here is another effective breathing technique I love. This one gives you more clarity and helps you let go and thus get through your day more relaxed. In her TedX Talk, Tina Sodhi demonstrates a very effective stress-reducing breathing technique that helped me very often. It can bring more ease and clarity into your life in an instant. Talking about the magic of conscious breathing, she says:
The power of breathwork
According to James Nestor, Author of “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art”, at the basis of all those ancient techniques like Yoga and meditation there is the art of conscious breathing. The best thing, you can perform it everywhere and you feel an instant effect. Breathwork stimulates the flow of energy in the body and helps with many complaints such as stress, insomnia, digestive problems. It is even one of the most effective detox tools we have at hand.
For learning stress-relieving breathing techniques depth and correctly, I highly recommend the ‘Breath is Life’ — Breathwork & Pranayama course by Michaël Bijker. This is a non-paid promotion. I just find his courses so hands-on and versatile. Although I am his trainee for becoming a breathwork instructor myself, I so appreciate his course on Udemy. Via the app, I choose very brief breathing -, meditation – and yoga exercises. They last between 5 and 15 minutes. That even fits into everyday life for mothers with a tight time schedule.
If I have 5 minutes only, I just go for few rounds of Kapalbhati: therefore, use a forced short exhale, which is followed by an instinctive inhale. Bring the navel center towards the spine during the exhale. You can do a set of 3 rounds: begin with a couple of slow diaphragmatic breaths, then alternate strong 30-second Kapalbhati breaths, with slow deep breaths. End with a couple of slow deep breaths.
Here is another effective breathing technique I love. This one gives you more clarity and helps you to let go and thus to go more relaxed through everyday life. In her TedX Talk, Tina Sodhi demonstrates a very effective stress-reducing breathing technique that helped me very often. It can bring more ease and clarity into your life in an instant. She says about the magic of conscious breathing:
Breathing for greater mental clarity
How to practice mindfulness every day without feeling overwhelmed
All that talk about self-care and mindfulness can feel overwhelming when your attempt to fit it into your lifestyle fails. The breathing techniques I have introduced last no longer than a few minutes. If you are totally caught up in daily activities, then I advise you to set up a little habit-reminder: you can set the alarm clock at different times throughout the day when you want to be reminded to do 5-minute body & mind hacks, like deep breathing, some stretching, dancing, singing, journaling or whatever else helps you to activate your rest and digest mode. That will not only keep you from burning out, it will also preserve your health and beauty.