Mindfulness to Stop Mothers from Losing Their Minds
Mindfulness may be an especially useful tool for mothers returning to work after maternity leave.
The concept of mindfulness is already becoming more prevalent in the employee well-being space. “For some individuals it may just give them the skills and permission to engage in healthier actions. To be able to get something done without being paralyzed by distractions,” said one Working Well source on the topic.
What’s interesting is looking at this trend from a narrower lens. The distractions one person faces aren’t necessarily applicable to those of another. People, at various points of their lives, simply have different things to be mindful about. As a twenty-something at the beginning of her career, for example, my focus and my distractions mostly revolve around work, apartment hunting and juggling important aspects of my life. Distractions can make my head spin sometimes, but not to the same degree as and not in the same way as other women.
Related article: Mindfulness Is Not Supposed to be a Cure-all
One demographic that could benefit from mindfulness is new mothers returning to work after maternity leave, according to Lori Mihalich-Levin, partner at global law firm Dentons and founder of Mindful Return, an e-course which aims to guide mothers through the return-to-work journey. Mindfulness is important to new moms because it’s a tool that can help new moms from losing their minds when returning to work, she said.
Citing her own life, she explained how after having her second child getting to good place was hard. And when she returned from leave, that wasn’t something that got talked about.
“It seemed like no one at work was talking about how hard it was,” she said.
Mihalich-Levin brought the broad concept of mindfulness into her niche in a couple ways. First, she says it’s one way to help with a woman’s ability to be at home when she’s at home and to be at work when she’s at work. The other element is mindful planning — that is, taking the time and energy to be thoughtful about how you plan for the month, for the week and for the day. It’s the use of preplanning to free oneself up to focus on what you’re supposed to be doing, which is valuable for new working mothers unsure of how to deal with work and children successfully.
Motherhood is what initially introduced her to mindfulness. She took a course called the Abundant Mama Project and thought it was the type of education new working moms needed to get their heads in a better place. She created her own e-course, “Mindful Return,” which she’s been leading for two years. She also wrote a book, Back to Work After Baby, which is scheduled for release April 11.
There are four parts to a mindful return, said Mihalich-Levin: mindset (or, getting your head in the game); logistics; community; and leadership in the space of return. The leadership aspect especially interested me. It focuses on how a woman can reframe thinking to come back from maternity leave viewing it as a leadership opportunity, and it encourages women to take credit at work for a well-planned maternity leave and return.
The final takeaway from this conversation was how new mothers can be an example in the workplace by being open about the unique struggles of their situation in an effort to normalize the struggle.
Andie Burjek is a Workforce associate editor. Comment below or email at email@example.com. Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.