Self care is a buzz word now a days. Some people have fully embraced the term while others might cringe at the very mention of it. It can also mean different things to different people.
In this blog post, I’ll walk you through:
- How to create your own definition of self care
- Some easy ideas to get you started
- How to integrate them into your current busy routine
The WHO defines self care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider”.
To me, self care is the act of managing one’s own stress by taking a moment to destress.
Deep in my core, I truly believe taking care of oneself is an act of necessity. COVID19 has changed the way we live and should not be used as an excuse to dismiss caring for our mental well being. The American Psychological Association conducted a survey from April – May of 2020. The survey found that 46% of parents say their average stress level related to the coronavirus pandemic is high (between 8 and 10 on a 10-point scale where 1 means “little or no stress” and 10 means “a great deal of stress”). Only 28% of adults who don’t have children under the age of 18 report similar levels of stress.
With schools closed and many parents working from home while coordinating their children’s schedules, 71% of parents say managing distance/online learning for their children is a significant source of stress. (1)
We as moms cannot throw in the towel now. In compiling this list, I wanted to pick things that cost little to no money. We all know that when something is difficult, we tend to set it aside. I don’t want self care to feel like a chore. I’m rooting for you to take away something from this post and begin to use it right away.
A few of my self care tips are mere mindful practices that perhaps maybe you end up incorporating it into your every day life.
Take a breathe. When things seem overwhelming, I inhale a deep breathe of positivity and exhale out all the negativity. And when my watch reminds me to breathe, I entertain the idea and take some mindful deep breathes. This simple act of taking a moment to breathe can really bring clarity to any situation you’re in, guaranteed.
Your body is your temple and we need to nurture it so that we can keep up with our kids and whatever life throws our way. Taking care of our bodies doesn’t have to mean something external (i.e. bubble baths, spa days, hair cuts, make-up). It can also mean what we put into our bodies too! If you’re eating a balance diet 80% of the time, there is nothing wrong with treating yourself to an indulgence whether it be a slice of cake, bowl of ice cream or a glass of your favorite alcoholic beverage 20% of the time.
-Spend time with an animal
Pet your cat or dog. Have you ever noticed how serene your beloved pet looks when it’s sleeping or just hanging out? They lead pretty simple lives and are a perfect example of how to slow down. Animals have been known to reduce stress levels in college students: “Just 10 minutes can have a significant impact,” said Patricia Pendry, an associate professor in WSU’s Department of Human Development. “Students in our study that interacted with cats and dogs had a significant reduction in cortisol, a major stress hormone.”(3) Animals also have been known to help patients in hospitals as well: “One of the earliest studies, published in 1980, found that heart attack patients who owned pets lived longer than those who didn’t. Another early study found that petting one’s own dog could reduce blood pressure.” (4)
-Call or text someone
I often feel like I’m in my own little bubble, deserted on an island with all three of my children. That doesn’t have to be the case though! I often forget that I have a phone and that social media can be a source of good, not evil. When you’re interacting with another human being and maybe even confiding in another person, the negative thoughts in your head don’t seem so trivial or absurd. You’ll feel less crazy and more equip to handle whatever you couldn’t figure out on your own. Collaboration is a powerful mom tool!
-Be with nature
Sometimes all you need is a walk outside for some fresh air. If I can’t go outside, I will look out a window and stare into my backyard. Looking at the outside world can also be a source of inspiration. The plants and the birds do not have a care in the world. This leads me to my next tip….
Move. Exercise releases endorphins, a natural brain chemical that enhances your mood. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do some crazy hard core cardio work out! If you’ve been sitting down most of the day, stand up and walk around. Rotate your torso, arms, neck and ankles just to get the blood flowing throughout. Or maybe take a walk. Find a workout that you love and dedicate 10 minutes or more to do it. I touch on my experience with postpartum exercise here.
We need to retrain our brains and learn to slow down more often. By speeding through a meal or rushing to check off a task on our to do’s, we can make mistakes which lead us to waste time by having to repeat the task. According to British psychologist, Dr. Richard Wiseman, the overall pace of life has increased by 10% worldwide since the mid-90’s. In some places, it has even increased by 20%. And in the case of Singapore, it has increased a whopping 30% in the last decade and one-half. (2)
If you have young children, relish in the moments you have with them now. I remind myself every single day because they really do grow up so fast. Time cannot slow down, but you can. Remember that!
-Less is more.
This goes hand in hand with slowing down. I learned this the hard way. Moms tend to be overly ambitious (I am one of them!) and while there is nothing wrong with having goals, be gentle with yourself and set short term and long term goals. For instance, I used to think I had to clean the whole entire house every single day. If you’re constantly cleaning every single day it leaves little time to do anything else, right? So, I slowly forgave myself and divided the house cleaning in sections for the week. Not only did I feel accomplished after cleaning one room, but it made me feel less overwhelmed by all the other things I had to do in a day.Get what you can done and pat your back for a job well done.
Do you boo!
It has taken me several years to find what works and what doesn’t. I urge you to test the waters and at the very least, give yourself time settle and slow the F down! Wee all have a long list of “to do’s”, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t check off all the boxes right away. Your well being is worth so much more than anything else in life because if you do not take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of anyone else.