How to maintain your inner calm when your world is changing
Being pregnant is a wonderful and exciting time as we look forward to welcoming our little one. However, for some of us, the changes to your body and moods, plus the pressures of work and getting ready for the new arrival can be a little daunting. So how can you help to maintain your mental stability while all around you is in motion?
What is mindfulness?
Modern lifestyles mean that we are often rushing about without noticing what’s going on around us – or even inside our own heads. Mindfulness is defined by Professor Mark Williams of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre as knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.
Prof Williams says: “It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour.”
“An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment.
“Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment.
He concludes: “It’s about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.”
How can mindfulness help my mental wellbeing?
Being more in touch with how we are feeling and being aware of the moment can help us understand ourselves better. In pregnancy, that may mean taking some time every now and again to think about how your body is feeling, how your life is changing as you prepare for birth – and how you feel about all of that.
Walking for mindfulness
Many of us don’t know where to start with mindfulness and find the thought of sitting down to think about emotions quite daunting. So making an action part of your mindful routine can really help. Also known as walking meditation, you don’t need to be intimidated by this but merely to feel that you are aware of yourself and the environment when walking.
Wear comfortable clothes and good shoes and go and find somewhere outdoors – a local park, a path beside a river, a forest. Start off by standing still and being aware of your posture, feeling your body’s weight pressing towards the earth, thinking about how your feet feel. Then close your eyes, take a few really deep breaths right down into your abdomen and then open your eyes and be aware of the moment.
Start to walk – slowly at first, more slowly than you would usually walk, so that you can be aware of each part of your body. Bend your knees with each step and think about the way your heels and toes make contact with the ground.
Keep breathing deeply but naturally, being aware of each breath as it goes into and out of your body. Gradually, you will find that your thoughts drift away from your walking and breathing – take notice of each thought as it comes and try not to judge it or yourself or to change your mood. Then bring your mind back to your walking.
In this way, you can start to explore thoughts and feelings that might be troubling you or that are lying beneath the surface and examine what it is that makes you unhappy about them. By continually bringing your awareness back to your walking, you are teaching your mind to be able to expose and examine negative thoughts and unhappy events to put them in perspective.
You can continue to walk for mindfulness with your baby and so you should consider this when you’re choosing a pushchair. It should complement your lifestyle and your fashion sense, should be easy to manoeuvre and use and it should also be comfortable and supportive for your child. The new Stokke® Xplory® Athleisure meets all these criteria and more, combining form and function in a beautiful package. Read our review here.
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