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Mindfulness benefits parents and their children

A circle grows, saying inhale. The circle shrinks, reading exhale.

Think of the last argument you had with your child. What triggered it? Looking back at the argument, you may be wondering, why did I get so upset over something so silly? One word, my friend. Stress.

The toll stress takes on us and our relationships

Everything -- and I mean EVERYTHING -- is driven by our mental state, especially your relationships and our reactions to the situations around us. We’re overwhelmed, exhausted and maybe even unfulfilled. When we’re in this state, anything perceived as a threat (even if it’s just your child who’s age appropriately expressing themselves) can cause anxiety.

As a result, your body releases more cortisol and it often triggers you to go into a fight or flight mode.

Mindfulness is defined as “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. Meditation is probably the most popular or well-known type of mindfulness.

Meditation is about training your brain and body to turn off your stress response--to break you out of that fight or flight cycle. It grounds you in the present to promote more relaxation.

Making time to meditate or practice mindfulness will help you find balance in your central nervous system, and in turn allow you to be a calmer, happier, less stressed parent.

Ready to become a happier, more present parent?

Me too. That’s why I’ve launched my summer self-care program. Celebrate You is all about tuning into our bodies and identifying what activities fill our cups and help us become a more present parent and partner.

Free mindfulness resources

The Internet can be draining on your mental and emotional health, so be mindful to take screen breaks. Put the phone down when you’re spending quality time with your child so that you can stay present and be focused.

However, there are some really great online resource to restore your wellbeing. There are so many excellent sites that offer free exercises, articles and resources to guide you on your mindfulness journey. Some of my favorites include:

Resources for book lovers

There is nothing more essential to our health and well-being than breathing: take air in, let it out, repeat twenty-five thousand times a day. Yet, as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences.

Journalist James Nestor travels the world to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. Modern research is showing us that making even slight adjustments to the way we inhale and exhale can jump-start athletic performance; rejuvenate internal organs; halt snoring, asthma, and autoimmune disease; and even straighten scoliotic spines. None of this should be possible, and yet it is.

Time to Parent by Julie Morgenstern

Parenting is the biggest, hardest and most noble job in the world, and yet, it comes without a job description. As a result, parents end up feeling overworked, spread thin and guilty that whatever they are spending time on, they’re neglecting something else.

Time to Parent provides the instruction manual parents have been craving for generations, on how to balance raising a human and being a human. She truly advocates for self-care because her years of research clearly shows that you can’t raise caring, mindful humans without being one yourself.

If you’re skeptical about meditation, this is the book for you. Journalist Dan Harris was a skeptic too. After having a nationally televised panic attack, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes in his life. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head. Meditation became the tool that helped him rein in the voice in his head, lowered his blood pressure and made him feel happier.

Resources for Podcast and App Lovers

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

The #1 bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin’s podcast is full of her practical, manageable advice about happiness and good habits. Gretchen’s cohost and guinea pig is her younger sister, Elizabeth Craft, who (lovingly) refers to Gretchen as her happiness bully. Their relationship is dynamic and the conversation is engaging.

This app is one of my favorites. If you’re a seasoned meditator or are new to mindfulness there are resources to guide you along your journey. You can listen to guided meditations, or take a sound bath in calming cords or nature sounds.

Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

In addition to his book, Dan Harris created a mobile app and podcasts by the same name. The app includes guided meditations, podcasts, mindfulness courses and tracks that help you sleep.

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