Your mind

Always be yourself and don’t change for anyone. If people don’t accept you the way you are, they’re not worth your time. Stay happy, be kind and make memories.

Having a new activity has given myself and my daughter time apart which has helped her become a little more independent and given me time to be myself and focus on a non-parent time. It’s really helped me recharge.

Lots of parents tell us that they feel anxious and stressed, and that it’s hard to cope. There are some ideas below for you to try out. They are easy to do. They are free. And they don’t take a lot of time.

It can be hard to put yourself first, or even think of yourself at all. But it’s good to care for yourself. It makes the job of caring for your children that bit easier.

Our minds can be pretty overloaded at times. If you ever feel like this, there are some ideas below about how to settle your mind and get some breathing space. If you can take a couple of minutes here and there, whenever you can, you’ll notice a big difference.

Mental health charity Mind has loads of tips on how you can manage your everyday life and look after yourself. From getting into nature, or doing a few breathing and relaxation exercises, there’s something for everyone in Mind’s Tips for everyday living. The Mental Health Foundation is also a great source of podcasts and videos on how to reduce stress and feel more relaxed. COPE Scotland has video clips and other tips to help with wellbeing, including being kind to yourself.


I went to a free mindfulness class at the community centre and it was something very new for me. I was sceptical at first, but I do think it helps my anxiety sometimes. It takes bit of practice, but I find it easier now. I don’t use this as often as I used to but if I am nervous about something, or have to do something I don’t want to, it helps me focus on the here and now instead of the future. And it stops me worrying and gets me through whatever it is.

Mindfulness encourages you to be in the moment. It’s a way of paying attention to what is happening now. It helps you manage your thoughts and calm your mind. When your mind is calm and quiet, it’s easier to cope with your day.

You probably see your children absorbed in something they like doing, like playing with their toys. That sort of concentration is what mindfulness is all about. You might get it from knitting, listening to music, colouring books or doing a jigsaw. There are many ways of practising mindfulness.

Try spending a minute on one of the following:

  • Breathing: breathe in and out. Notice the time between breathing in and breathing out. Notice your lungs expanding. Your mind will probably start to wander. So, just bring it back to your breath.
  • Body scan: Close your eyes and scan your body. Start with your feet and move up your body until you reach your hands. What do you feel? Any sensations or none? Now move your focus away from your hands and become aware of what’s around you.
  • Walking: you can do this anytime you walk. Be aware of what you feel when the soles of your feet touch the ground; and any feelings in your legs. You don’t need to look at your feet. When your mind wanders just use what you feel in your feet to bring you back to the present moment.
  • Eating: when you are eating, take your time and notice how your food looks, feels, smells and tastes. Notice the taste and texture in your mouth and chew slowly. You might find that you enjoy the experience more.

The links below will help you practise being mindful whether for a minute or for longer.

Useful links

Being kind to yourself

At the group we are told to treat ourselves like we would a friend so I try to think about the advice I would give my friends and use it for myself.

The group has made me make some time each day to focus on myself and do something for me as every mum needs time for herself. I find having a bubble bath and listening to some music when my son is asleep really relaxing and therapeutic.

We often treat ourselves quite badly! We’d never treat our friends the way we treat ourselves. Being kind to yourself can be hard if you don’t feel that great about yourself. And it can end up being a vicious circle: you don’t feel great so you take it out on yourself. Here are a few things to try and some ideas about where to find more:

  • Give yourself a butterfly hug. You can do this alone or with your family. It not only feels good but it also helps you deal with difficult emotions and experiences
  • Try not to measure yourself against other people
  • Compliment yourself: stand in front of the bathroom mirror and tell yourself one good thing about yourself
  • If you’re being hard on yourself, imagine you are your best friend and say to yourself what you’d say to them
  • Make a list of the things you usually enjoy whether it’s watching TV, listening to music, going for a walk round the block or speaking to a friend. When you’re giving yourself a hard time, try to change the focus and do something you enjoy
  • Write down three things that have gone well for you today. If you can’t manage three, try to think of one. It gets easier with practice
  • Try something new. It can be scary leaving your comfort zone, but maybe there’s something you’d like to try

Useful links

Enjoying nature and the outdoors

The effort it takes to get my twins out of the house in their first year has been mammoth and usually exhausts me before the day has even begun. But getting outdoors gives me the oxygen my soul needs to keep going on my own. Finding a way to wriggle our three sets of toes in the sand, or to walk through the forest (often with one feeding at my breast in a sling as the other cries for his turn), calms and nurtures all of us. Some days the smiles only last for moments, but the strength they give lasts longer. I live for the moments we’ve spent at the beach, camping and surrounded by supportive friends at outdoor music festivals. It’s given the twins a love for life.

For me, I think getting out and about stops me from overthinking negatively and instead I make positive memories filled with fun, happiness and beauty. Whether it be a trip to the zoo to admire the wonderful natural world or to the park to play with my daughter, doing something positive instils a positive mindset for the rest of the day.

Just getting outside, enjoying the fresh air and nature around you can make you feel better. UK mental health charity Mind website has useful information on how nature can help your mental health.

Simply being in nature:

  • Lowers stress
  • Makes you feel happier
  • Makes your mind feel sharper

Going for a walk or a cycle or getting on your scooters (why not?), enjoying the greenery of the local park or woods, or taking in view at a quiet beach can help to lift your mood.

If you have a bit of garden, any size, that’s also great for keeping active, enjoying nature, and getting that feeling of success when you manage to grow something lovely – or, even better, something you and your children can eat!

Doing things like growing food or flowers, exercising outdoors or being around animals has lots of positive effects. It gives you:

  • Headspace
  • The chance to breathe more deeply: makes you feel calmer and more relaxed
  • A chance to see the bigger picture/outside world and green spaces
  • Exercise
  • A sense of belonging

Not everyone likes to, or is able to, get outside. But can you drink a cup of tea in the morning, with the window open, while you look outside? Notice what you can see and hear.

If you can go outside, it doesn’t have to be a big expedition. It can be as simple as going to the park, or walking to the shops.

It’s free. It’s also something that you can do with children. Being interested in the natural world is something that’s good for all of us. Ideas you could try with your children are planting seeds on your windowsill or in your garden if you have one; or taking photos and drawing pictures of what you see outside.

Useful links

You can also bring the outside in: there are loads of sounds of nature on Spotify and YouTube, whether it’s waterfalls, waves or birds singing. You can find these by searching on Google.