Mindfulness Techniques for Busy Moms

Amanda McClellan, LMSW, PMH-C on Dec 30, 2022 in Mood and Feelings

Mindfulness is a term that you’ve probably heard as the practice has grown in popularity recently, and for good reason: Practicing mindfulness has been shown to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, among many other health issues.

So what exactly is mindfulness? At its core, the goal of mindfulness is to focus our attention on the present moment, including what we are thinking and feeling, without feeling the need to interpret, judge, or solve those thoughts and feelings. Common components of anxiety and depression include worrying about the future and ruminating about the past, which tend to be maladaptive thinking patterns that lead us to feel... well, anxious and depressed. Mindfulness, however, helps us to be present in the here and now, essentially counteracting worry and rumination.

I know when most people think of mindfulness, they often think meditation which can feel a little “woo-woo” and out-there to some clients; it’s just not their thing. For others, finding the time and mental space to dedicate to meditation when you’re pulled in 500 different directions each day as a mom and barely have time to shower feels like another task on the to-do list, and to-do lists aren’t necessarily calming; I get it.

While meditation is certainly a way to practice mindfulness, there are other ways you can practice mindfulness that can help you reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression (in conjunction with therapy and medication, as indicated, obviously), some in as little as 10 seconds.

Mindfulness for Moms Who Don’t Have Time (Or Just Don’t Want) To Sit and Meditate

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Exercise

This is one of my favorite mindfulness techniques that I use often myself if I find my mind running a million different directions. It’s also a great tool to use if you experience panic attacks. Stop what you’re doing, take a breath, and find: five things you can see right now, four things you can touch right now, three things you can hear right now, two things you can smell right now, and one thing you can taste (you don’t actually have to be tasting something in that exact moment; I like to imagine eating my favorite snack). Then take another breath.

Muscle Relaxation

This is another great tool if you have a hard time staying in the present with meditation and find your mind wandering and need a more sensory-focused activity. A benefit of this one is releasing tension that we often carry physically from anxiety — sometimes that we don’t even realize we are carrying!

Here’s an example of isometric muscle relaxation: Sit down in a chair, take breath, and hold it for up to seven seconds. At the same time, place your arms on either side of you under the chair, and use your arms to pull yourself down into your seat with all your might. After seven seconds, breathe out and allow the tension to leave your muscles. Repeat these steps for another minute.

An alternative to isometric muscle relaxation is progressive muscle relaxation, where you work your way through your entire body one muscle group at a time, tensing, holding, and releasing. It works really well if you’re lying down and can be a very helpful tool to use before bed. Start at your feet, tightening/squeezing your toes for five seconds, and then release the tension and pay attention to how the muscle feels. Repeat this process as you work your way up your body, ending at your eyes.


Yeah, I know this one is like, um… Duh? But I think it’s all too easy to forget how helpful it can be to stop and breathe (those good belly breaths!) when our brains are overcome with worry or guilt or sadness. It’s like hitting a reset button! Place your hand on your belly, and take notice as it goes up and down as you breathe in and out. Amp up the powerful effects of calming breaths by adding in some affirmative coping statements such as “I don’t need to focus on this feeling or try to figure it out” or “I allow this feeling to be here; this too shall pass.”

Trust me, mom to mom — I know your schedule is jam-packed, but if you’re struggling with worrying or ruminating, give some (or all!) of the above mindfulness techniques a try as a quick way to help refocus yourself on the here and now. Then you can assess how you feel after giving yourself and your mind a little reset. 

If you’re interested in learning more about mindfulness or other strategies to help manage anxiety and depression, I'd love to talk more about how I can help you. Until next time, be well friends!

Amanda McClellan is a licensed clinical social worker providing therapy for moms in Michigan. Amanda specializes in maternal mental health works with a wide range of issues including perinatal mood disorders like postpartum depression; perinatal anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and OCD; and perinatal post-traumatic stress disorder. Amanda also helps both new moms and more experienced pros make time and space for emotional healing, develop healthy boundaries, increase self-care and master coping strategies for mom guilt, burnout, and fatigue.

If you’re looking for a therapist in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area, you can contact Amanda to learn more about her current openings and scheduling a consultation.

Amanda McClellan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Plymouth, MI.

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