Anxiety is a pain and there are times I can’t remember to do what I should to keep it in check. To help me in my quest for a peaceful life, GeekDad Jules has become my mindfulness sponsor. Basically, he reminds me to do self-care and it’s a dose of tough love if I don’t comply.
What is mindfulness?
According to Google, mindfulness is:
1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
“their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Basically, mindfulness is being mentally in the now.
Mindfulness has been proven to improve focus, decrease stress, improve relationships (in and out of the bedroom), lower blood pressure and heart rate, increase critical thinking, and lots more. It’s kind of like a super drug you don’t have to take.
What is a mindfulness sponsor?
A mindfulness sponsor is someone who reminds you, and if need be nags you, to get in the moment and spend some time doing something mindful. This person can be anyone that you trust to remind you via text, phone call, or other means of communication.
How does it work?
Each day at a specific time, your sponsor sends you your reminder to be mindful and you spend a set amount of time doing a mindfulness activity (for me it’s a 30-minute session, which can be broken up into two 15-minute sessions if I want).
Jules goes one step further and he tells me the mindfulness activity he wants me to do that night. Generally, it’s a mix of journaling, music, and/or art. It might sound like a lot but I’ve found ways to do it that make it enjoyable for me and time wise it fits into my schedule.
Let’s break down the various things I do and see how you can incorporate them into your routine.
First step… find the time!
Finding time can be hard for a lot of parents. I’m lucky to have a family structure that allows me to take an hour to myself each night so my mental health issues don’t get worse. This doesn’t work for everyone though. Here are some ideas to fit mindfulness into your schedule.
- Wake up 10-15 minutes early each day.
- On your lunch break at work.
- When your child is taking a nap or playing nearby.
- Delegate a task to your oldest child or your husband (in my family this is the same person ::ba dum::) and use that time to do self-care.
- Plan your meals the week before and use the time you’d spend during the week for worrying about meals for mindfulness.
- Do you have an IKEA in your area? Drop the kids off at the kids’ area and head over to the furniture department with your journal (yes, this is kind of sneaky but desperate times call for desperate measures).
When you can find art or a craft you enjoy doing, it’s amazing how calm it can make your mind. You focus only on that task and it’s a very interesting experience.
The key here was to find something I enjoy doing but didn’t feel bad about putting up on my wall, bookshelf, or giving to someone as a gift.
So far here are the things I’ve tried and enjoyed:
- Perler beads
- Sticker puzzle books
- Coloring (I found these great bookmarks to color)
- Felt Applique
- Color Quest
The children’s craft aisles at your local craft store are good places to find easy crafts to try out. Once you learn the methods from the kits, branch out into the more adult projects.
Art for mindfulness has helped me see the beauty in something not being perfect. When a sticker didn’t lay quite right, most of the time I would take it off and try again, but then I would see that I either A) made it worse, or B) realized the original mistake wasn’t so bad after all.
Life lesson for the win!
Journaling is not so comforting because it makes you focus on your thoughts and feelings, something I’m not always wanting to do at first. It’s my least favorite of the mindfulness activities. Jules has me do it a specific way though that takes some of the sting out of looking at my thoughts.
- Write down three fears you have at that moment.
- Write down three features of three objects in your immediate vicinity. Example: Carpet. Grey, soft, flat.
- Write down what you see, feel, and hear in that moment.
I find that doing these thing helps me see how logical or illogical my thoughts are being. If my fear is based in reality then I make a note to talk about it with my therapist or find a way to overcome it on my own. Just seeing it laid out on the page helps calm me down from it though. It makes it tangible.
I also do a midweek check-in where I write three things I accomplished or I’m proud of so far that week. Even if it’s something small like planning dinner, it still counts.
My journal of choice at the moment is the Woodstock Dot Journal and it’s turned into a bullet journal with my to-do lists, projects, and mindfulness all in one.
Finally, we have music. Recently I started trying to learn the ukulele and thanks to Populele sending me one of their amazing instruments, I’m enjoying it a lot more than before. This activity is my favorite because not only am I learning something new but I’ve always enjoyed music so making it myself is kind of a thrill.
If playing music isn’t quite your thing, here are some other ideas you can try:
- Listen to a meditation track.
- Find a short guided meditation you enjoy. Sada has some fun tracks for kids that I’ve found enjoyable.
- Pick a favorite relaxing track and pay attention to each word individually as a beginner. Pay attention to the pace, the way you feel as the words pass by, and your thoughts (without judgment).
While none of these activities take my anxiety away, over time they make it easier and I’m thankful to Jules for helping me along this part of my journey.