Why is mindfulness essential for moms? Read more below and learn how to create your gratitude list.
Becoming a mom has been the most significant hurdle of my life so far. I was ready on all fronts, except how motherhood would challenge me mentally. I had done some work beforehand; I read a ton of books, I knew the values I wanted to instill in my child and what parenting methods resonated with me. But unfortunately, none of this would help me cope emotionally with this massive life shift.
When our daughter arrived, I wasn’t ready to overcome feelings of deception or being constantly overwhelmed. And not to mention the guilt of having a healthy baby girl and not feeling happier about it. These are all normal post-partum feelings, but they can feel foreign, leaving us feeling alienated since we don’t talk about them enough. Is it just me?
I needed to find a way to feel better, shift my perspective and focus on the good.
In searching for ways to cope, I discovered gratitude journaling; simply put; it has saved my sanity. The practice is simple. Here is the format I use, but there is no one way to do it. The idea is that you take a moment at the beginning of each day to journal about what you are grateful for, from your warm (hopefully) cup of coffee to the people who support you or the opportunities you have been fortunate to have in your life. Anything that gives you a reason to be thankful. Before bed, you write down a few good moments from that day, which is especially beneficial on hard days; there is always a silver lining when we take the time to look.
This practice is not about denial or wishful thinking. Instead, it is about bringing more joy into your day-to-day by ever so gently shifting your focus towards the good. Here is how it can improve your life.
1- Gratitude helps in letting go of expectations
We have nine months to plan the arrival of our baby. That’s 40 weeks of building up hopes and expectations of how this new chapter will play out. Of course, some things happen as per the plan, but others don’t, and that’s ok.
When we are stuck in our expectations of what we thought motherhood would be, we miss out on the little gifts of the everyday. Choosing to consciously be grateful for things, like having a healthy child, can help remind us that we are blessed to be experiencing the joys and the hardships of motherhood with a roof over our heads and food in our bellies (even if we forgot to have lunch). By shifting our focus on the good, we allow ourselves to acknowledge what is working in our favour. Change your perspective and count blessings rather than items that didn’t get crossed off the to-do list.
2- Practicing gratitude daily can increase your physical and mental well-being
Research has proven that gratitude can have huge benefits on our overall well-being. It can improve sleep and self-esteem, make us more patient and empathetic towards others and help reduce stress, which can help us become more balanced moms. Gratitude is also an effective way to calm our mental chatter and negative self-talk by letting us appreciate our strengths instead of focusing on our shortcomings. When you begin your day with gratitude, you look for things to be grateful for throughout the day (or take a peek at your gratitude list, more on that below), and eventually, you don’t have to look so hard; they are right there in plain sight.
3- It gives you a moment to yourself
Yup, you read that right. Committing to my gratitude practice every morning has given me an excuse to start my day focusing on MY well-being. It’s like an internal morning scan where I take the time to ask myself how I am feeling and to shift my perspective and energy if the answer is “not so great today.” The first step towards feeling better is acknowledging your less than fantastic emotions and shifting your focus through gratitude. Are you wondering how to fit this practice into your morning routine? In my case, I wake up a little earlier than the rest of my gang. I promise that the overall benefits of daily gratitude outweigh those 30 extra minutes of sleep (plus, I get to enjoy a warm cup of coffee without interruption). But if this seems impossible, find another moment that works with your schedule. Remember, as mothers, time for ourselves will never be handed to us on a silver platter accompanied by a permission slip. We need to carve it out.
How to create a gratitude list
Take a few minutes to create a gratitude list. Take a notebook or open a spreadsheet and list everything you are grateful for. It can be anything, from the people in your life to the food on your plate. The opportunities life has given you, your health, your home. Keep your list handy and read it when you need to brighten up your day.
Practice makes perfect
The truth is, practicing gratitude takes just that: practice. Yet, it is one of the easiest ways to access a more fulfilled life and help us navigate motherhood’s ups and downs. At the end of the day, if we are happier, calmer, more patient and positive, it will be felt by our loved ones as well. In addition, by concentrating on our well-being and remembering to appreciate our life, we teach these habits to our children, who will also reap the benefits throughout their lives. Win-win.
There are many resources on gratitude out there Here are a few.