I am a mom. And I have anxiety. I don’t have a severe enough case that I need to take medications or see a specialist, but by the end of a long day I sometimes feel like I’m wound up and unraveling at the same time. Since my first pregnancy, I sporadically turned to meditation to quiet my mind and relax my body. But a few months ago I began a nightly ritual of stillness and meditation. And it has been miraculous. Here’s exactly how meditation calms this anxious mom.
I’m not selling anything nor has anyone sponsored me. This is just honestly what has worked for me. And I hope it helps you too!
I use the Calm app. I’ve looked at countless other apps, including ones specifically for pregnancy, but I come back to Calm. You can buy a subscription for about $60/year (which I plan on doing once I’ve saved enough) but I have never given them any money. And the app still has plenty that I can do. It also has a web browser version which I use with my kids in the afternoons – even just the background sounds or music, plus the visual, help them from being too crazy at the time of day when I’m most overwhelmed.
I think the biggest relief I’ve experienced is the quieting of my mind. At night when I nurse my toddler to sleep, suddenly my brain goes into overdrive. I can’t silence the thoughts and the worries about chores, money, errands, analyzing what my friend said the other day… it’s exhausting without me ever breaking a sweat.
Now I am getting better at being able to tell those thoughts to just wait. I’ve made a few mantras and the one which works best for me when I can’t quit thinking is “I will.” That’s it.
I need to call the kids’ doc and make an appointment!!! I will.
You need to text your best friend and tell her – – – I will.
Oh God the dishes haven’t been done and they’re sitting there waiting to be washed and – – – I will.
Meditation teaches my brain that its seemingly endless list of “emergencies” aren’t really that urgent, and that they can wait. Meditating makes me sit still, and forces me to relax. It works, and it gets easier with time.
In a selfish yet necessary way, meditating is also one of the most precious things I do for my self care. It’s free, easy, and I can do it at home. But I now find that sometimes I get a bit twitchy when it’s almost time to meditate, because I need that disconnection! I desperately want to unplug from all of the noise of life. Meditation is refreshingly addicting.
Meditation puts things in perspective. It helps me think about concepts like gratitude, resilience, choice, and kindness. With the Calm app I can choose any of these themes (or more) to focus on for the night. Or I can choose an open-ended one which is just me and the quiet.
I like the quotes and memes I get at the end of every session, too. I’ve saved a few of my favorites and tweet them out from time to time. They’re good reminders.
I see progress with my meditation… and with myself. It’s now a lot easier for me to drop down into deep relaxation, even with a teething toddler nursing to sleep across my lap. I’m able to focus better for longer. I am better about gently shushing my mind as it constantly knocks on my attention, desperately trying to remind me of something I need to do. I will, I will.
Finally, I know that my kids reap the benefits of my meditating just like I do. They see a mom who can calmly de-escalate with a few breaths or a mantra. Their mom appreciates the quiet, the simple, the peace. Our loud moments balance out with just listening to a meditation in the afternoon before dinner, or talking about saying my kids’ mantra, “I am calm”, when they’re too excited. As they grow, I’ll invite my children to more actively participate in my meditations. They may not be perfect at it, but they’ll understand the importance. And I hope that will stay with them.
I’m amazed when I look back at how anxious I would be by the end of the night. And how far I’ve come. As my kids grow and my self care changes a bit, I know that I will always find time to meditate. And I’m setting a great example of mindfulness and self care for my children too.