If you have children, no one needs to tell you that being a parent can be stressful, but you may feel better knowing that it’s not just you. Many parents, especially those who are working, report feeling not just stressed, but tired, rushed, and short on quality time. We also know that many parents struggle with anxiety and depression. (Again, this may not seem like breaking news, but rather just a regular Tuesday.) As a parent, it might be tough to lighten your load by much, so what else can you do to make this whole endeavor feel a little less rough?
Meditation might be one thing that could help. It’s not a quick fix or a silver bullet, and it certainly won’t solve all your problems – affordable childcare and a good night’s sleep might help too – but it could be one more item in a tool-kit of self-care that can help you in some pretty incredible ways.
What is meditation and how can it help?
Meditation is a mind and body practice that involves becoming more aware of what’s on your mind and how you’re feeling in your body. It’s a way to transform perspective by paying attention to and recognizing your experience of the here and now with compassion – and without making judgments about what you’re thinking or feeling.
Studies show that after just eight weeks of meditation, the brain actually changes in regions associated with empathy and stress, memory, and sense of self. And research has shown that it can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and eating disorders, and can improve quality of life and overall well-being. You might have heard about some of these ways in which quality of life and well-being can improve – from lessening stress to improving focus to helping you feel calmer and be kinder to loved ones. It can help you get better sleep. It might even help your kids be less stressed. Meditation may not be a perfect solution, but it can be an impactful one. For parents whose love has certainly grown exponentially since having children, but whose quality of life may be a little more complex – even stressed – these benefits can be particularly helpful.
- Alice Boyes.“5 Meditation Tips for Beginners.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, March 18 2013. Retrieved February 5 2019. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201303/5-meditation-tips-beginners.
- Julie Corliss. “Mindfulness meditation helps fight insomnia, improves sleep.” Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard University, December 22 2015. Retrieved February 5 2019. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-helps-fight-insomnia-improves-sleep-201502187726.
- Britta K. Holzel et al. “Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density.” Psychiatry Research 191(1): 36-43. January 30 2011. Retrieved February 5 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/.
- Jennifer Kogan. “Mindful Meditation Practices For Parents? Research shows Increase in Resiliency, Wellbeing for those who practice.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, July 17 2012. Retrieved February 5 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-parenting/post/parents-can-meditate-too/2012/07/16/gJQAZcQCpW_blog.html.
- Sue McGreevey. “Mindfulness meditation training changes brain structure in 8 weeks.” Massachusetts General Hospital. Massachusetts General Hospital, January 21 2011. Retrieved February 5 2019. https://www.massgeneral.org/News/pressrelease.aspx?id=1329.
- Lea Waters. “The Relationship between Child Stress, Child Mindfulness and Parent Mindfulness.” Psychology. 7(1): 40-51. January 2016. Retrieved February 5 2019. https://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=62741
- “Meditation: In Depth.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, January 02 2019. Retrieved February 5 2019. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm.
- “Raising Kids and Running a Household: How Working Parents Share the Load.” Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, November 4 2015. Retrieved February 5 2019. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/11/04/raising-kids-and-running-a-household-how-working-parents-share-the-load/.