Self Care can be defined as any activity we do deliberately that improves our emotional health, physical health or the health of our relationships.
One thing I think comes up often when I talk to people about self-care is people having a misinformed definition of the word. Often people think I am talking about throwing all your responsibilities out the window, forgetting about the needs of your family or the obligations of your job and going out and getting a pedicure. While the occasional pedicure can definitely be a form of self-care, creating a practice of self-care within your daily life goes much deeper than this. I look at self-care as a way of being, as a lifestyle, not just acts of pampering you do sporadically that have little impact on your long term health and wellness.
Self-care can be divided into 3 different categories: Physical Health, Emotional Health, Relational Health. When each of these areas is in alignment in our lives we begin living a lifestyle of self-care and begin to see long term benefits such as feeling less overwhelmed, improved mood and more joy in life.
I start with this one because when we are feeling our best physically, it helps us in all of the other areas. As humans, we all have physical needs to eat, sleep, and move. When we honor these needs it improves our energy levels and allows us to pour into the other areas of self-care.
Let’s start with eating. This can be a hot button topic for a lot of moms out there. We are so busy trying to feed our kids, do school drop off/pick up, work a full or part-time job time job, keep the house running, etc that we often settle for a granola bar and 8 cups of coffee (please tell me I’m not the only one) instead of fueling our bodies with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Feed yourself as well as you feed your kids. You deserve it.
Next, exercise. People take exercise and make it way more complicated than it needs to be. Just get out there and move your body. Go on a walk with your kids. Do a deep cleaning of the house. Run around and play soccer in the backyard. Take your dog on a jog. You do not need a gym membership or a structured exercise routine to exercise. You just need to move. This has long term benefits for your physical and emotional health.
Finally, SLEEP. This has been one of the biggest challenges for me in motherhood. Especially this past week with waking up in the middle of the night for tornado sirens and a sick baby (the two times never seemed to collide). BUT sleep is very important for self-care. Shoot for 7-8 hours minimum each night. Skip scrubbing the kitchen floor after bedtime and get yourself in bed (or let’s be honest, skip that 4th episode and tuck yourself in early).
Emotional Health includes our mental health as well as our mindset about life and our circumstances. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or any other diagnosable mental health condition, make some time to talk to your doctor or find a local therapist to talk to.
If you find yourself feeling crushed under the weight of mom guilt or dealing with the blues, take a look at how you talk to yourself. Maybe you have a constant negative stream of thoughts in your head. “My husband never helps out at home”; “I never have enough time for myself”; “My kids don’t appreciate all I do for them”; “I hate this job, but I’m stuck here because I need the money”. While circumstances in life might not be ideal, it is helpful to find the things you are grateful for and replace that stream of thoughts in your head. Flipping the script to “I can ask my husband to unload the dishwasher while I’ll cook dinner, he will help”; “I can work with a coach to create a self-care plan to find time for myself, this is just a season”, “My kids are well fed and happy, I’m so lucky to be their mom”; “This job provides the income my family needs to support our lifestyle, and if I really wanted to, I could apply to other jobs”.
Mind you, I’m not just here saying it’s easy! Just change your thinking and your life will be perfect! No, it takes a lot of hard work to change your mindset. But, if you are willing to put in the work to make the change you will experience a ripple effect in your life. Your kids and spouse will notice your improved mood and it could rub off on them. You will start to notice the small blessings in day to day life instead of focusing on the things that aren’t going your way. Your overall emotional health will start to improve.
Making time to nurture your relationships is an important part of self-care. It’s a part of self-care that can sometimes seem inconvenient, sometimes you may feel it’s taking away time from your kids or your job. But, it’s a part of living a lifestyle of self-care that is non-negotiable. We were created as social beings. We thrive off of healthy, supportive FACE TO FACE interaction. We all have a multitude of relationships in our lives (family, friends, spouse, work friends, etc). They are all important to self-care. But, for this small section, I’m going to focus on friendship. A longer blog post focused solely on relationships is in the works for the future.
So back to making friendships a priority in your life…..
This is going to require you to step up your game from keeping up with your best friend on Facebook or Instagram to actually finding a babysitter (or talking with your spouse/grandparents) and having a girls night. Even if you are in a season of life where you’re nursing every 2 hours and you feel like you can’t leave the baby, you can still make time for friendships. I have a friend and we make time to get together weekly without fail. Sometimes that sitting in each others living rooms and having coffee while the kids play or fuss or nurse. Sometimes it’s going to the park or meeting at a local library. We make each other a priority and our friendship continues to grow because of it.
If you’d like to stop feeling overwhelmed and find time for yourself, check out my coaching packages and contact me! I’d love to help you move past the busyness of motherhood and find time for self-care.
I’m here for you Mama, you can do this!
The Self Care Lady