Being a mum is hard work, any mother will tell you that. There are always errands to run and things to organize. Making time for yourself can feel like the last thing you have time for. The thing is, if we continually put off our own needs we can become stressed and burnt out. We can become stuck on a hamster wheel of striving and doing and lose touch with our own needs and desires.
When I say that making time for yourself is important, I talk from experience. I used to live my life from the neck up. I was so out of touch with myself. My focus was on everyone and everything external. My mind jumped from task to task. Life centred around my overflowing to-do list and responsibilities. I was so focused on what everyone needed and what I had to accomplish.
I ignored the nagging voice from within telling me to slow down and to make a change. I put off self-care in favour of the more “productive and sensible” daily tasks. I was being a selfless and exhausted martyr, which understandably lead to depression.
Looking back, it feels like my body was forcing me to stop and listen by mentally shutting down. I had no choice but to stop and realise that I wasn’t happy. I was behaving like superwoman yet felt like I never measured up.
I worked with a life coach and a counsellor as part of my recovery. Both encouraged me to acknowledge how I felt and accept it. I had been denying my inner voice and ignoring my feelings for so long that it took considerable effort on my part to start listening to myself again. This process of relearning has been transformative. Today, I try to ensure my inner voice and intuition a have chance to be heard.
Learning how to listen to your body and intuition can be difficult if you are in the practice of ignoring them. We often ignore our needs in favour of what is expected of us, or seems like the “right” thing to do. Re-learning how to listen to yourself is a process. As part of this process, you need to find ways to slow down your noisy and cluttered mind. By quietening and grounding myself, I could hear what my intuition and body was telling me.
I tried yoga and meditation and found that the movement of yoga really drew my focus inward. Quiet moments with a cup of tea and also proved to be a mindful and meditative activity for me. I struggle with traditional meditation and often find it hard to maintain my focus. I read about mala beads on a yoga blog and gave them a try. I really liked having the focus of the beads and mantra as they really help draw my focus inwards and slow the pace of my thoughts.
These days I like to consult that voice from within. Self-care, yoga and meditation are all ways that keep me in tune with my intuition and body. They keep the internal clutter in check so I can listen to when my body wants me to relax, or when my intuition is telling me to be brave and take a wild step into the unknown.
As a busy mum, this process allows me to take care of myself. I do not ignore my time off repeatedly anymore. I listen to when my body is telling me that I need something.
Ignoring how I felt did not help me get more done, it did not make amazing things happen. That total disconnection from my mind and body actually made me ill. I am able to maintain a much better mental health now because I focus on having a good mind-body connection now.
My mind also feels calmer and clearer. There are not as many to do’s and responsibilities rushing through my mind. If stress builds up, I can notice it and take the time to slow things down. This means that I usually approach life in a calmly and rationally rather than being rushed and frazzled. I can see when I am behaving like I am superhuman and remind myself that I am just one person and I can only do so much.
I also notice from this practice that I am aware of when I need to drop tasks from the to-do list. I have a bad habit to try and do everything all at once. By taking time to slow my thoughts and to really listen to my own inner guidance I can look at the things that aren’t really that important, the things I do for expectation’s sake or the tasks that aren’t that urgent. I can prioritize from a calm and clear headspace.
Learning to listen to my own inner guidance has been something I have had to learn. It takes practice and a lot of trial and error. Yoga and mala meditation has been such an integral part of this process. They have helped me draw my attention inward and slow my mind down. This slowing down has given me space to really work out what matters to me. It helps me work out how I want to show up in the world. The type of mum I want to be and importantly what I want and need from my life.
Lynne is a Scottish-born life coach and writer currently living in Southwest Norway with her husband and two children. She coaches torn, stressed, and overwhelmed women to work out what is really worthy of their time and energy so that they can live a life that feels free, relaxed and joyful.