It’s almost 9 p.m. and you sink into the couch; finally, you have a few minutes to yourself. Between chauffeuring the kids to and from school, preparing meals, running errands and meeting deadlines at work, you’ve hardly had a second to yourself. Does this scenario sound familiar?
As a mom, it can be easy to put your family and career at the top of your list, and your own well-being on the back burner. You have probably heard this before, but practicing self-care is an important part of keeping healthy. It can also help you recharge and put things in perspective, so even though your already full plate probably can’t handle any more, by taking just a few minutes every day to practice self-care, you may actually free up other areas of your life and headspace, and be less stressed throughout the day. One healthy way to do this is through meditation. Meditation is a great way to help slow things down, focus your mind when it’s time to shift your attention from one task to the next, or just take a minute for yourself. Read on to learn more about the benefits of meditation for moms and easy ways to integrate this simple practice into your day — no matter how busy you may be.
What is meditation?
At its core, meditation is a technique for setting the mind at rest and attaining a state of consciousness and mindfulness.1 Meditation is centered around helping you reach a state in which your mind is relaxed, clear, and focused inward rather than on the external events taking place around you or in the world.1 The goal of meditation is to silence the mind, get in touch with yourself, and work to achieve a centered consciousness within.1
4 benefits of meditation for mothers
#1. You’ll start tuning into the present moment.
Ever feel like your child’s schedule is busier than yours? From sleepovers to after-school sports, it’s common to feel overwhelmed with so many activities. If you feel like you’re rushing from event to event, always wondering “what’s next?” it may be time to take a pause. One of the benefits of meditation is learning to become more present, or “in the moment.”
Mediation allows you to shift your focus from constantly anticipating your next task to connecting with the present, helping you to appreciate everything as it happens.2 While you’re waiting for that softball or soccer game to end, take a little time to focus on your senses — take in the sights, smells and sounds around you — and focus only on each sense, droning out the past stresses of the day, or the other things you have to get done before bedtime. When you start to enjoy each moment, in the moment, you might find yourself feeling more relaxed.3
#2. It’s a great way to manage stress.
With work, an always growing to-do list, and a demanding schedule to handle, some days are more stressful than others. Although we all feel the effects of stress, experiencing too much may impact your health and happiness. Meditation is a great way to learn how to better manage your feelings, even when you only have a few minutes to spare.
As you learn to become more self-aware, your practice can also help you to understand your reactions to stress and how to work through difficult situations. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes — whether it’s first thing in the morning or in your car before heading off to the next activity.
To give it a try, find a quiet place to focus on a repetitive activity, whether it’s slow, steady breathing, repeating a calming sound, like “om,” or a positive mantra. Once you choose your relaxing action, remain focused on it for a few minutes. If you’re distracted by other thoughts, do your best to push them from your mind. After just a few minutes, you may feel more calm, clear and focused. Meditating may not only reduce feelings of tension or anxiety, but it may also help you handle stressful issues in a more relaxed state.4
#3. You may feel more alert.
If you’ve ever experienced a restless night caring for your little one, you can relate to how groggy and out of sorts you tend to feel the next day. The good news: there may be a natural remedy. Research has shown meditation may improve alertness, even after a sleepless night.
A review of several meditation-based studies explored meditation’s effects on “tonic alertness,” a term that describes your level of vigilance and wakefulness, as well as your ability to notice or react to unexpected issues.5 In one study, those who meditated for 40 minutes performed better in an exercise that tested their reaction times and ability to focus over an extended period, compared to taking a nap or another activity. When the same exercise was performed after a night of too little sleep, meditation helped improve the participants’ alertness and reactivity.
#4. It can support your weight loss journey.
If you’ve ever slowed down to enjoy a meal and savored each bite’s taste and texture, you’ve practiced mindful eating. And while removing distractions such as electronics during every meal may seem challenging — it could help your weight loss efforts.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Obesity explored the effects of using Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT) on almost 50 overweight women in the San Francisco Bay area.6 MBSR helped the women remain focused on the present, allowing them to disrupt their previous thought patterns, emotions and behaviors. This enabled them to develop new, healthy patterns of thinking, feeling and acting. Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training taught them to be more aware of the hunger, satisfaction, and emotional triggers that could potentially lead to overeating.
The study was successful in several areas, notably in “increasing mindfulness and responsiveness to bodily sensations, reducing anxiety and eating in response to external food cues, and tended to reduce eating in response to emotions.” In addition, participants who “reported the greatest improvements in mindfulness, responsiveness to bodily sensations, and chronic stress had the largest reductions in abdominal fat.” However, more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of mindfulness on weight loss.6
How to start meditating
Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming — just give yourself 10 minutes! To get started, try meditating in the morning or at night, then see how you feel after a full week. If you feel distracted after a few minutes, make your sessions shorter, gradually building up each session as you continue to practice. Beginners may choose to try a guided meditation to start, as it’s a helpful way to keep your mind from wandering. Find the style that works best for you by checking out different videos, apps or meditation CDs.
Mind over matter
As a parent, it’s important to take time for self-care, whether it’s through meditation, exercise, or your favorite pastime. Try taking a few minutes of your day to focus on the present, breathe deeply and relax. Remember, you deserve to have time for yourself!
To learn more about how to balance self-care and your weight loss goals, contact a consultant at Jenny Craig to book your free appointment!
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and is written by experienced health and lifestyle contributors and reviewed by certified professionals.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on the topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.
Stephanie Eng-Aponte is a copywriter for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, CA. They’ve focused on writing within the health and wellness space for the last several years, but have dabbled in the tech and environmental industries. Stephanie graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Stephanie employs a “eat first, write later” approach to food blogging and enjoys the occasional Oxford comma. Outside of writing, you can find Stephanie photographing a muttley crew of rescue pups, brewing kombucha, or exploring San Diego.
Favorite healthy snack: Green apple slices with sunflower butter.