In this simple black-and-white image by Bill Jewitt we see a small structure perched on the edge of an embankment seemingly somewhere up a mountain trail, amongst what looks like a misty morning with tall silent trees surrounding it as if sentries guarding a calmer state of mind.
This is the kind of place that we often dream of as busy parents. It’s quiet. There’s a fire inside, an armchair, a really good book.
The truth of it is though that until my kids are many years older I will not be staying anywhere like this. Certainly not on my own, certainly not in any semblance of quiet. And yet, my need for this kind of retreat is acute. Without it, my prognosis dire: learn to live with paper-thin patience, waning enthusiasm for homework and clothes washing and the feeling of resilience becoming a more rare experience than is healthy.
So how do we experience a sense of retreat without being able to physically take ourselves to one?
1. Happy Mind :: Mindulness for Mums
Taking care of our mindset is fundamental to feeling okay in our lives, and even then progressing to thriving once we get better at it. I love the Just A Minute meditations by the Brahma Kumaris. They are free online and best of all literally take one minute each, so no excuses!
Another favourite is the Audio Dharma podcast. Gil Fronsdahl and his talks on Buddhist principals used to be my bedtime stories (BYK – before young kids).
2. Just Add Water
There was a time when I literally put an automatic reminder in my phone every hour to drink water, I was that bad at it. Come to think of it, I probably need to do that again.
Water is a basic need but also does so many things for the body and mind. It gives us better skin, a more functional pelvic floor and just an overall sense of wellbeing when we have enough of it. It’s a simple one, but ever so important and so often overlooked. Quite often if I am losing my patience with my kids I have a drink of water and the annoyance simply fades away.
Lately, I’ve been loving using my ceramic water filter to clean the tap water of nasties and drinking from my Healthish water bottle which has markers on it so you know how much you have been drinking, and how much you need to drink. It’s a super simple way of using biofeedback to help grow more beneficial hydration habits.
Another super simple and accessible way to ground ourselves is with stretches. There are a bazillion different teachers on YouTube, yoga, movement and strength, it’s endless. Me, I’m a Hapkido instructor so I tend to use our kinds of stretches and sometimes our slower form to keep the body moving. It does wonders for mindset and health.
I hope these simple things give you a great reminder of how to take bite-sized breaks out of busy-ness and remember to take care of ourselves.