Recently I sat down for a chat with one of my best pals, Rachelle Hickson, to talk all things self care and mindfulness.
Rachelle is a master of all of the things (kinesiologist, dancer & dance teacher, life coach, mumma) and has a real knack for helping me find some zen.
She’s been my number one go to for coffee hangs, juggling kids and nutting out whatever current dilemma is on my mind, since we met about 5 years ago. So I wanted to share some of her wisdom with you in the form of an interview. Enjoy.
I think out of all of my buddies, you really stand out as having a real calming influence. It is actually one of the first things I noticed about you way back when we very first met. Where does that come from? How do I get more of it in my life!?
I think it’s probably my yoga practice. It has really changed how I think about life, and I think that sort of came from when I was dancing full time, and I used yoga most mornings before I’d go into dancing. It really helped me be more creative because I think I was more peaceful. I pretty much have always had a morning routine. It’s something that I do for me every morning.
M: Does that mean you’re a morning person? Because I just find that I put these systems in place, like, I decide I am going to to for a run every morning or whatever, and it just doesn’t happen.
R: I’m definitely a morning person. Whereas I’m not an evening person. I know you stay up late and do stuff, but I clock off. 7 o’clock is my latest for working, after that I am brain fried!! But, I am quite happy to get up at 5.30am in the morning.
M: I wish I had some of that morning motivation! It’s such a nice time of the day.
R: But it doesn’t matter whether you are a morning person or a night person. I think you’ve just got to honour what you are, because you will probably never change and it’s who you are!
M: You’re a newish mum. Matraya is 9 months old (I can’t believe it!) So having a new babe in your life throws another whole spanner into the works of taking time out for yourself, right? Because there is not often time. We put the babies first, try and tackle some housework, get through the day and then it’s time to go to bed again.
R: I think that morning routine definitely suffered. My morning routine once I had Mattie became nothing to do with me. Eventually we worked out a new routine, I would put her in the pouch when she was ready for her first sleep, I’d go for a walk or listen to a podcast or music or something and then come and meet someone for a coffee.
M: Usually me.
R: Usually you! Then we would come home and so that would be my self care. It would be a walk, listening to something I enjoyed while she slept, a coffee with a friend, or even just a chat with the barista – and then go home and get started….
M: I feel like I took probably 12 months to adjust to motherhood in that way. I mean, it’s such a big change suddenly feeling like you have no time for yourself, and always having to think about someone else’s needs first. For me it took a bit of a toll I think. What was that like for you?
R: Yeah definitely, it’s the thinking about it, the mental toll. Because with one little baby, they need you all the time, but I felt like because she was sleeping there was still space (even though she was sleeping on me most of the time) to have a break. I can remember putting her on my lap asleep across my body and sitting down at the coffee table and typing some stuff for me, like writing a blog post or something.Whereas I think as they get a bit older, it gets harder because often you don’t have that quiet time as much during the day because they are sleeping less and less, so it is constantly changing and you are constantly having to renegotiate where you get, you time.
M: Do you find it is an internal battle at times? I know I had a big patch of feeling a bit selfish about taking that time for myself?
R: Yes definitely. And I think that’s why going for a walk felt ok because I knew that Mattie slept really well in the pouch so I might as well go for a walk and go do something for me. But if I had to ask someone to look after her so I could listen to a podcast and go have a coffee with a friend, that would be really unachievable.So I guess It’s about being creative about how you can manage the two things at once almost, how you can find time for you with them around and a part of it.
M: I find myself appreciating little things way more than ever, I actually wrote about this recently. I really enjoy lighting a candle once the kids are asleep, or having a cup of tea in peace. I think noticing some of the smaller things can become your self care and it’s just about shifting your thinking around it.
R: It’s mindfulness really, isn’t it?There is a really great opportunity with a baby or with children to practice mindfulness. For example, a great opportunity is breastfeeding. You are just sitting there doing “nothing” but you have to be there so often, especially in the middle of the night. You can just close your eyes and connect to your breathing and connect to you little bubba and how they feel and just be present and mindful.
M: What positive impact does mindfulness have on our well being? How does it make life better?
R: Well mindfulness, is a like of meditation in action in daily life. Meditation is like taking a shower for your mind and it’s clearing out all of the gunk. I definitely feel the difference when I am not practicing mindfulness, or meditation or a yoga practice. My mind gets fuller and fuller and fuller and it gets busier and busier and busier. Just taking that time to be present really helps to shift a lot of anxiety or frustration or whatever it is that you are feeling/thinking, and you get closer to what the real issue is, if there is a real issue. And there usually is. Like, if you keep getting angry with your partner for not doing the dishes, you are probably not angry with you partner for not doing the dishes, there is often something deeper that is going on and I find that mindfulness or meditation helps you access what the real problem is (by clearing out all the surface mind chatter) so that you can address it.
M: Can you suggest any practical changes that mums or anyone can make to practice mindfulness in their day when they feel like there is no room for it?
R: Well it’s probably good to be prepared. Take some time to consider what your day looks like and if there is no time for a seated meditation, choose something in your day, it might be eating your dinner or taking a shower, and choose to just sit and eat your dinner and just really connect to the tastes and smells of that moment. Connect to the present moment. The other thing is remembering to do it, because it’s really not doing anything extra, you’re just being present in whatever you are doing.
M: Yeah, putting down the phone or turning off the TV.
R: That’s right. Even just having a reminder in your phone, that pops up at the end of the day asking, ‘have you been mindful today?’
M: Do you have any apps or resources that you use, that might be helpful for newbies?We’ve just started using the headspace app. To be honest, I’ve only done one session, but Jai seems to be loving it.
R: Headspace is really great, the other one that I really like is Calm. The calm app has sounds that you can just listen to, like rain, or oceans sounds or they also have guided meditation. The other one is Osho.com where you can access free downloads, or even Youtube, there are so many meditations on there.
M: What about mindfulness for kids? I have been thinking a bit about this lately with the threenager and wondering if it is too soon to start?
R: I don’t think they are too little. One thing my dad used to do with me was called the ‘Relaxes’. “Relax your toes, relax your feet” You just work your way up the body. That is mindfulness. Also, there is a great Brisbane company called ‘The Goodnight Co.’ and they have some great resources for kids.
M: So much good info here, I am going to make a real effort to make this more of a priority, because I know how much better it makes me feel, and also it is important to me that we are role modelling self care and self compassion to the kids.
M: Thanks for the chat and the tea!
Rachelle has a great blog that explores her musings and thoughts from within her clinical practice and mummahood and a podcast in the making.