Musician, author and mama-of-two Izzy Judd on her new book, Mindfulness for Mums
Tell us about Mindfulness for Mums. What’s it all about?
Mindfulness for Mums offers a collection of simple exercises to help restore calm in the chaos of motherhood. It is the type of book you can have on your bedside table to dip in and out of and includes activities not only for you, but also to share with your family. Mindfulness doesn’t require hours of your time, but I have found practising for a short amount of time each day can improve your overall mood and helps to ease tension and worries.
Has becoming a mother changed your relationship with anxiety do you think?
As we struggled to start a family I hadn’t given enough thought to the reality of becoming a mum. Anxiety has always been enhanced in my life during periods of change or feeling out of control and there has been no bigger change than the impact of motherhood! I felt totally overwhelmed becoming a mum, it felt like I had been thrown in the deep end and didn’t know how to swim. I knew I needed something to help me restore balance and calm so that I could be present and enjoy time with my family and manage the rollercoaster of emotions that I was experiencing day and night. I stopped practicing mindfulness when Lola was born as I didn’t think I had time, when I realised I could find short moments of time within my day and the impact those moments were having on my overall well-being, I wanted to share my experiences with others in the hope it might help them too.
What are your thoughts on social media and how it affects the mental health of mums?
Social media can be such a positive space if you curate a social feed that speaks positively to you and leaves you feeling uplifted. There have been many wonderful and supportive communities that I have found great comfort from in motherhood and also during our fertility struggles.
In Mindfulness for Mums I have written about screen boundaries and healthy screen time, something I think we are becoming much more aware of and understanding that these are important when taking care of our mental health.
For example, having times in the day to turn off notifications until we have the time to respond to messages and emails with our full attention. I know that endless beeps on my phone are such a distraction from the moment I’m sharing with my family and can be anxiety fuelling.
What are your go-to coping strategies if you’re having a tough day?
Mindfulness is simply focusing on the present moment, something as a mum I struggle with, especially with the daily demands and expectations that being a mum brings. I wanted to find ways to keep the calm rather than join their chaos. One of my coping strategies has been to take a mindful pause. This could be when your feet touch the ground in the morning, waiting for the kettle to boil or as you turn the door handle to leave the house.
You simply breathe in for 4, hold for 2 and breathe out for 4. You could add an affirmation such as “let go” or anything that feels right for you.
Taking a moment to pause and check in with our breath allows us to ground ourselves and bring our focus to the moment when our heads might be spinning with the endless to do lists or from the noise of toddler meltdowns!
Is mindfulness something you can practice as a family to prevent meltdowns and tantrums?
A I wanted to learn mindfulness techniques to share with Lola and Kit to take care of their own mental well-being. I am practicing everyday to try and remain patient and understand their big emotions. Using breathing techniques together can help us share a peaceful moment and also distracts their attention from a difficult situation such as having to share!
We also have a mindfulness corner in our house, this is a quiet space they can go to which has a cosy blanket to sit on and a basket of items such as puzzles, colouring and a cuddly toy. I have found this gives me another option to the naughty step and Lola usually responds really well to some quiet time to calm down.
Finally, what advice would you give to mums who feel like they are failing?
You are not alone, there isn’t a night I don’t get into bed and question if I did ok as a mum today. The juggle and business of motherhood is relentless, so I hope these short exercises allow you pockets of time in the day to take care of you.
Something else to think about is if there is something you enjoyed before becoming a mum that you loved doing just for you? For me that was playing my violin, something I stopped doing until recently. Reconnecting with something you love can really help you find you again.
Mindfulness for Mums by Izzy Judd (£14.99, Michael Joseph / Penguin) is out now