What is mindfulness? It’s a technique which involves giving your full attention to the present moment. It requires you to focus on your mind, body, surroundings etc, in a way that is non-judgemental. It is essentially a way to manage your negative thinking patterns, and find different ways to approach them.
What can mindfulness help you to achieve?
- Become more aware of your thoughts and feelings
- Recognise your negative thought cycles and be able to manage them better
- Feel able to better manage stress, and thus feel calmer
- Recognise situations that cause you difficulty, and find ways to manage them
- Be able to manage some physical health problems, such as chronic pain
- Be kinder to yourself in general
How does mindfulness help you with postnatal mental health?
A large part of postnatal mental health difficulties is having an overpowering negative thought cycle. Feelings of anxiety, thoughts such as I’m not good enough, I’m a bad parent, I’m going to harm my baby are the main culprits, and a lot of us handle them the wrong way. We tend to try to ignore them – push them to the side so that they can’t be validated. Have you ever had an itch that you were unable to scratch, so you tried to ignore it…and you focused so hard on ignoring it that it became completely unbearable? What about a secret you had to keep, and you tried so hard not to tell anyone that it was always at the forefront of your mind and you couldn’t forget it? That is often what happens with our negative thoughts. We push them to the side, refuse to acknowledge them, and so they get bigger and stronger until we feel like we are going to explode. It takes so much of our focus to ignore them, to worry about them, that we forget to pay attention to anything else around us…we end up focusing on those negative thoughts rather than focusing on all the positives around us.
What if we just accepted those negative thoughts; understood them for what they were? This is where mindfulness comes in. It worked for me, it can work for you too.