I’m trying to juggle everything as new mums do; enjoying every moment with my little one, but not letting my career slide. Feeling the need to ‘lose the baby weight’ but being proud of what my body has achieved. Trying to feed my little one organic home-cooked food but limiting screen time – what on earth am I supposed to do with a one-year-old while making elaborate dinners? Amid the nappy changes, my body being used to as a climbing frame and the teething grumps, I find myself forgetting just how much I have to be grateful for.
Somewhere amid the months of my son waking every 90-minutes throughout the night, I kind of forgot how to relax, let go and drift off to sleep. I now lie in bed expecting him to wake, even when he doesn’t. I lie awake and worry about what happened during the day. I worry about things that didn’t happen but could have. I worry about what might happen tomorrow…
I decided to set myself a four-week challenge. Every night before bed I would do 10-15 minutes of meditation, I would keep a gratitude diary and, as I’ve always been a fan of aromatherapy, I decided to introduce a scent that would (hopefully) trigger my process of relaxation.
My enablers of choice were the Managing Anxiety programme on Headspace, an app called Grid Diary which allowed me to write five simple questions I had to answer every night and, as mint and rosemary take me back to the garden in my childhood home, Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir.
For the first 8-10 days it was easy. I enjoyed taking the time for myself, I was learning ways to tackle the way I hold onto stress, I felt I was establishing a pattern of what makes me happy (one of the questions in my gratitude diary). Then I started lapsing. I started repeating myself in my gratitude diary, using flippant answers (cake makes me happy), doing the shorter meditation. Changing habits is damn hard!
By day 15 I realised that I was halfway through the challenge, I could do this. Day 16 was just around the corner and 16 is so close to 20 - really I only had a few days left. I started visualising my ‘sacred space’ when I finished my meditation, so I drifted off to sleep in a peaceful frame of mind. (A couple of years ago I went on a guided meditation in a spa in Arizona to discover my guardian animal and sacred space; the animal didn’t stick but the space did.)
Day 30 came around and I’d finished the Headspace programme but was trying a few others on for size. I looked through my gratitude diary and worked out that really, food makes me happy and my interaction with some people doesn’t. I now stash the travel size Beauty Elixir in my bag and use it to clear my mind when feeling stressed.
Did it change my life? Hmm. I’m definitely better at recognising and letting go of worry. Tick one for meditation. I’m not sure the gratitude diary made my life any clearer, and to be honest I always knew I was a comfort eater. I’m less sure of that one. And yes, I still love the power of different scents to bring up happy emotions.
Regularly visiting spas, learning from spa industry experts in the UK and overseas has opened my mind to a wider interpretation of wellness. I probably would have been closed to the thought of gratitude and meditation before I because part of the spa world, so I’m grateful for it (and my meditation app).
My intention for this month: To discover something new every week. I’ve got a backpack baby carrier, a son who loves new things and two days a week where we can see our world for the first time together.
New favourite book or podcast: The Guilty Feminist podcast. I find myself either nodding along or snorting unattractively with laughter.