Well, Mamas, 2018 is upon us. Typically a time for countdowns and confetti, as we embark on 2018, I invite you to ring in this New Year with what for many of us may be a different kind of resolution. Instead of resolving to “lose weight,” or “spend less and save more,” two of the most common choices,[i] consider adopting, and committing to—that’s the key—at least one practice that is scientifically-proven to bolster your mothercare routine. A revolutionary idea? Perhaps. But it shouldn’t be. As a mom, you deserve to feel well and cared for. That’s why any one of the tools outlined below has the potential to positively impact your maternal experience. What’s more? All of them are free of charge, easy to learn and can be performed without a big-time commitment. Sound good? Thought so. Mamas, here’s to ringing in the New Year with some practical ways to make motherhood easier, and more enjoyable. Cheers!
Apply the right kind of pressure:
Mothering, like life, is made up of moments of bliss, and moments of bliss-less-ness. If you’re up to your elbows in spit-up, soiled diapers or toddler tantrums, then it may be the perfect time to reduce the stress and apply the right kind of pressure.
Developed 5000 years ago in China, acupressure is essentially a form of massage that works similarly to acupuncture. Instead of using specialized needles however, the practitioner uses fingers to apply pressure to particular points on the body. This makes acupressure an easy and effective tool for self-treatment.
Constant care-giving necessitate that one’s mind, body and spirit be replenished. Licensed acupuncturist Ashley Flores of Four Flowers Wellness in Chicago explains that treating the “Heart 3” point can bring a general sense of calm, and relieve tension in the neck and low back[ii]—common “keepers” of stress. (Breastfeeding moms may find treating the “Heart 3” point to be especially helpful in relieving the tension that results from hunching over to nurse.)
How to do it: Extend your hand and arm out, palm upward, with a slight bend in the elbow. Place the thumb of your opposite hand on the elbow crease and slide it gently downward toward the bony portion of the elbow. Between the end of the crease and this bony area, there is a meaty, fleshy bit of skin where the Heart 3 point resides. Apply pressure to this area for thirty seconds to a minute—enough so that the skin under the thumb nail turns white. Any tension should begin to soften as pressure is applied. Repeat on the other side. Remember to breathe throughout.
Care for yourself by caring for another mother:
A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology[iii] tested the pop-culture concept of “paying it forward,” to see if the idea would hold up under scientific scrutiny. A group of undergraduate students was recruited to perform brief, one-time-only acts of random kindness. These were simple actions—holding open a door for someone, extending a compliment, paying a parking-meter or offering someone a snack. The study demonstrated a positive emotional impact on both the receivers of the actions (as might be expected), but also on the givers of the actions, with women showing even greater benefit than men.
Moving into 2018, see if you can make a choice to “pay-it-forward” to another mother in your neighborhood or “mommy and me” class. Gestures don’t have to be grand, either. Something as simple as a text message to let another mother know you’re thinking about her, or a free e-greeting to send some love, is sufficient. Whether it’s once a week, once a month, or once this year, chances are, you will both feel better.
Secure 5 Minutes of Silence: Whether you have to beg, borrow, or steal to get it, make some quiet time part of your daily mothering ritual in the New Year. This may seem a tall task if you’re home with an infant or toddler, but five minutes is all you need. And it’s more than worth it, because silence is golden when it comes to your mother-mind. A study published in Brain, Structure and Function[iv] [v] revealed an increase in the production of new cells in the hippocampus’ of mice—the part of the brain responsible for tasks such as learning and memory. Who wouldn’t welcome a boost in brain function, wherever you are on your motherhood journey?! Consider reserving some time during your little one’s nap, or after you put him or her to bed. Have a seat, close your eyes, breathe deep, and enjoy the silence.
[ii] Ashley Flores, LAc. Skype interview, February 11, 2016.
[iii] Pressman, S.D. (1), M.P. (1) Cross, and T.L. (2) Kraft. “It’s good to do good and receive good: The impact of a ‘pay it forward’ style kindness intervention on giver and receiver well-being.” Journal Of Positive Psychology 10, no. 4 (July 4, 2015): 293-302. Scopus®, EBSCOhost (accessed April 8, 2017).
[iv] Kirste, Imke, Nicola, Zeina, Kronenberg, Golo, Walker, Tara L, Liu, Robert C., and Kempermann, Gerd. “Is Silence Golden? Effects of Auditory Stimuli and Their Absence on Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis.” Springer Berlin Heidelberg, October 30, 2013.