The HSP Mindfulness Mom

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Mom holding her young son closely on the beach.Being a mom is hard. Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) who is a mom can be downright daunting. With a sensitive mirror neuron system and a propensity for sensory overload, it can be hard to take on the role of an HSP mindfulness mom. So much of mindfulness is about being present, patient, and compassionate with ourselves. As a mom, mindfulness extends to parenting where tantrums, loud voices, and chaos can be barriers to the mindful moms we want to be. With all the challenges, let’s look at ways that we can be more mindful with ourselves and with our children.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is being present in the moment without judgement. Without the judgement we can be open and curious to what is happening within ourselves. In the field of neuroscience, neurobiologist have studied the positive effects of mindfulness on the brain, creating new neural pathways that can support us in being more grounded and more aware of our emotions. It can also help us notice negative automatic thoughts that may come up so that we can notice and then move on from them.

How can mindfulness help us go from reaction to reflection?

Moms struggle with carrying the mental load, thinking about all the things that we must do in the next day, week, or year. As a result, it can be hard to be present. When we practice mindfulness strategies, we can come back to the present moment. In our conscious, mindful state, we can make meaning out of our overwhelm and reactions. With a sensitive limbic system, HSP moms might get easily activated. Being present without judgement can help us know what to do next to activate the parasympathetic nervous system to cool us down. We can then ask ourselves, what do I need in the moment? Or if the struggle is with our child, asking, “What does my child need right now?”

What are some mindfulness strategies for HSP moms.

  1. Breathing and meditation.

Some of the mindfulness tools we hear about the most are deep breathing and meditation. Paying attention to our breath and slowing down are important strategies for decreasing overwhelm. It also models for our children how to calm down when things feel stressful. One breathing technique I like is “swaddle breathing.” Putting both hands on your heart, you apply some light pressure (like a baby in a swaddle) and breathe in for a count of five and out for a count of 7. Repeat this a few times to move into the calm.

Meditation can seem a bit harder when you have limited time. Something that might help is to download a meditation app for children and have your child join you so that you both get the benefits. If you have time for yourself, having an app or meditation podcast for adults can be another way to engage in meditation.

What’s most important is the attempt to engage in deep breathing and/or meditation is a practiced regularly.

  1. Notice what’s around you.

Take a moment to look around and name what you see. If your children are near you, they can do this too. You might notice everything that is a certain color or an object that you like. Doing this outside on a walk can also be helpful. Turn off the podcast or audio book and listen to what is around you. If you don’t hear anything, enjoy the sound of silence (a little Simon & Garfunkel reference for you). Notice the rustling of leaves or the color of flowers. 

  1. Take mini breaks.

As mothers, we can’t go into our rooms and have much time to ourselves when our children are running around needing us for so many things. I remember being so nervous when my child started approaching the age where she no longer needed naps. Her naps were my time to take a moment to breathe. When that time came, we transitioned nap time into quiet time. This was important for us both. She could read or do a quiet activity while I took a moment to have a cup of tea and sit down. Having a cup of tea engaged my senses in a way that allowed me to be in the present moment, even if only for a short time.

Another mini break can be done when going to the bathroom. This might not work as well when children are very young and bathroom time is often interrupted. I encourage you to try it when you can. Each time you go to the bathroom, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What do I need?” The answer might be some additional deep breaths, a pep talk, or a moment to engage the senses. If you are not sensitive to smells, have some scented soap that you can breathe in as you wash your hands. Also, take a moment to notice the warm water. If lotion is more your thing, notice the smell and sensations you feel when adding and rubbing lotion on your hands.

  1. Engage the senses.

I already mentioned some ways to engage the senses during micro breaks. Some things you might be able to access right away such as the smell of a scented candle, the sound of calming music, or the taste and smell of tea or coffee. Other times might be things you imagine such as the feel of sand on your feet, fresh cut grass, or the taste of something from a special moment in your life.

We can mindfully help our children when they are struggling.

When we are present, we can be present for our children. We can feel grounded and more capable of handling the overwhelming emotions that naturally occur with children. With more capacity, we can be more curious. It can also become a little easier to assist our children with co-regulation and respectfully redirecting unsafe behaviors. We can tap into our HSP gift of empathy, actively listening, and responding with compassion.

When we take care of ourselves, we have a greater ability to take care of others. We decrease some of the overwhelm and can increase pride in our capability. By embracing the role of “HSP Mindfulness Mom”, we create a less chaotic environment for ourselves. We can help our children feel more centered and grounded.

Also, don’t forget to ask for help! If someone else is in the house with you, you may need to leave the house for a bit or go somewhere else in the house and put on noise canceling headphones. Having someone to support you goes a long way.

If you’re a mom in California or Texas needing some extra support, please contact me for a free brief consultation.

Please note that this article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or mental health professional.