An Introduction to Mindfulness
Why should working dads practice mindfulness?
First off, what exactly is mindfulness? When we think of mindfulness, it’s easy to shrug it off as something that is just ‘not me’. There’s an association with mindfulness that conjures the images of burning incense and meditating, doing yoga on a hillside and becoming a bit of a hippie.
Well, the truth is, all those things can be a part of mindfulness for some people, but what it all comes back to is grounding yourself in the present moment and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings. That is the be all and end all of mindfulness, being truly present, and improving self-awareness for stronger connections with others and the self.
So, how can dads practice mindfulness?
Practicing mindfulness when you’re with your family will improve the quality of your time together, which helps to form deeper connections. An example of a time you might need some mindfulness techniques is when you’re with your partner or child, but you just can’t stop thinking about work, money anxieties, deadlines… Your mind is full and it’s distracting you. In this moment, you’re not really there, and you’re missing out on what’s happening around you, even though you are there in the room. Being able to switch off from work will make family time special and this is very important to deepen connections with your family.
Here are a few forms of mindfulness that could help working dads:
Mindful Listening – listening without judgement, interruption or criticism and being aware of your own internal thoughts that could be getting in the way of someone trying to communicate with you properly. People thrive when they feel heard and seen and so relationships will strengthen when you practice mindful listening.
The Self Compassion Pause – this technique is a way to self-regulate and recentre when something evokes high emotion. The technique involves recognising your emotion, and instead of suppressing, giving yourself permission to feel it and move through it. This could be a way to ground yourself when stress levels are high at work, or when you’re having difficulties at home, to avoid overwhelm and instead moving through the emotion to get to the other side. This can be in combination with other mindfulness techniques such as the five senses exercise.
Close your eyes Breathe in through your nose for a count of four repeating to yourself “I have done my best”. Hold your breath for a count of five. Breathe out for a count of six repeating to yourself “Now, let go of the rest”. Repeat two to three times until you feel your mind is clear.
The Five Senses Exercise – The five senses exercise will bring you into a mindful state wherever you. It is a simple technique to ground yourself and is very useful during a moment of overwhelm or anxiety. It is as simple as naming something you can see, feel, hear, taste and smell. The purpose of this exercise is to bring you into the present moment by noticing your surroundings, distracting your mind from other, overpowering thoughts.
These are just some types of mindfulness that can be helpful when you need to re-centre in the moment.
If you are struggling to switch off from work and be present, consider the four qualities of mindfulness, also known as P.A.R.K.
So, why should dads practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness helps you to move towards a sense of balance and psychological wellbeing. This can benefit dads in many ways, from work life to home life, and to generally uplift moods and ease anxiety. Mindfulness can make you more responsive to your child’s needs by being present and available in shared moments. It can also improve your relationships in general, whether it be your partner, friends, family or work colleagues.
Mindfulness can help you be in one singular moment, allowing you to switch off from work and feel one thing at once. This can significantly destress your body and mind, so you can find some work to life balance and quality, undistracted time with loved ones.
Mindfulness can help you build a deeper connection with yourself through self-compassion, allowing yourself time to relax and be in the moment. When you factor mindfulness you’re your day to day, it can make a significant positive impact on mental health.
Here are some links to further information regarding mindfulness:
Disclaimer: Mindfulness tools are brilliant ways to help you move through life smoothly and find calmness in difficult situations, however if you are suffering from ongoing mental health issues or have unresolved trauma that is disturbing your day-to-day, reach out to someone you trust and speak to a professional to discuss options. You are not alone.