What does self care look like to you?
Here’s how it used to go when I was deep in the trenches:
- Every couple of months, I would explode into tears. Like, hard core, hyperventilating, ugly crying on the floor tears.
- Sickness would follow. Within a week, I would end up in bed, with a fever, weak, and feeling like crap.
- After the chaos was over, I would then book a hotel room for myself so that I could simply lay in bed, watch tv, take a bubble bath, and indulge in a spa treatment
That was just what self care looked like to me. I mean, I didn’t have time or money to indulge in massages, mani-pedis, and then getting babysitting for a date night was hard…and bubble baths at home? Are you friggen kidding me? Ugh, I’m way too tired for that. Yoga at a studio? Hmmm, don’t think I can wear my ripped Old Navy leggings, and I really don’t want to spend $500 on expensive yoga apparel so that I don’t look like the hot mess I am.
So, then, the cycle continued. I didn’t feel like I could afford self care, then would get to a point where I felt I needed to, in order to feel okay again.
Months after moving into our new home, I finally found my hair dryer. The next day, I washed my hair, and actually took the time to blow dry it, and then styled with a curling wand. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “wait a minute… THIS is self care. This. One. Small. Step.
It dawned on me that perhaps self care isn’t this big indulgent and expensive thing that you do once in a while when things get chaotic. It’s taking care of yourself in little ways, every day, so that you don’t feel the need to do those big indulgent and expensive things to restore balance.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do the extravagant things, but there are other small-but-mighty cost effective ways to take care of yourself, day in and day out that you may not be taking advantage of.
#1 Be kind to yourself
Look in the mirror and say something nice to yourself everyday. Strive to make peace with your body because ALL bodies deserve to be treated with respect. Today is the day that you stop being mean to yourself about what your body looks like with no negative self-talk, and no name-calling. Note, this doesn’t happen overnight, and it take a lot of practice, but the goal is to get to a point where negativity doesn’t stick around. Day by day, little by little, it all adds up, so make the decision to add these small doses of positivity into your life, and you’ll feel free.
You’re a mom and most likely already stressed out – do you really need the stress of negative body image in your life? No!
#2 Take your Vitamins … if they’re not expired yet!
Anyone else a supplement hoarder?! I didn’t realize how many I actually had until we moved and had to go through them all! Half of them were way past expiry, and the other half I probably hadn’t taken in a while – some were even stress management/adrenal supplements, and I could have really used at the time. That’s the point I realized how badly I needed to prioritize my own health.
Multivitamins, Probiotics, fish oil… if you have it, take it!
#3 Wake up Before Everyone Else
If you have kids that are consistently sleeping through the night, this tip is for you! If you don’t, then I would probably wait.
There is something to be said about “morning magic” time, and this is coming from someone who is not really a morning person. Like so many mamas, I sometimes trade sleep for late nights of “me time” (see below), but it just isn’t the same as in the morning. When you start the day quietly, and intentionally, it somehow makes the rest of the day (or at least the rest of the morning) a lot less chaotic. Imagine if you got to enjoy breakfast and coffee by yourself, and how peaceful that sounds. On the other hand, when you start the day with chaos, with everyone scrambling in the morning rush to get out the door, it feels like you need to desperately recover from it.
A morning routine that supports your mind, body and spirit can influence your mood, greatly reduce stress levels, and promote overall happiness and wellbeing.
Try waking up 30 – 60 min before everyone else does and enjoy your alone time!
#4 Go to Bed Early
You know the drill: kids are finally down, dishes washed, lunches made, and now it’s YOUR time. You do deserve “me time” afterall – this motherhood gig is tough.
The problem is that if you’re doing this, and staying up past 11pm, night after night, it affects your stress levels, and a whole lot more (and can even lead to weight gain).
This one is hard because we think of it as self care, but really it isn’t in the long run. Have you ever noticed that when your kids are sleep deprived, they’re cranky messes in the morning? We do our part as parents to get them to bed early because we know what’s best for their moods, growth and development. Give yourself the same love you give to your kids – deep down (deeep deeep down), you know sleep is good for your health!
#5 Shoo Everyone Out of the House Once in a While… yes, even the dog
Ask your partner, or a grandparent, or a friend, to take the kids out of the house for a bit. Even if it’s just for an hour at the park. Don’t wait for someone to ask – speak up! Once I started asking my husband, he was more than willing to spend solo time with the kids at his parents house, or to walk around Lowe’s, brainstorming the next random home project
I could send you numerous articles on dogs being huge stress relievers, but as a dog owner myself, I can honestly tell you it’s not always the case. Especially if you have a young pup that bounces off the walls, a velcro dog, a loud barker, or a dog with behavioral issues. Sometimes, we need a break from them too. I’m lucky that ours loves doggy daycare, so on occasion, I’ll send her there. Yes, I work from home, but sometimes need a break. Alternatives to daycare could be a local pet sitter, or a dog walker.
#6 Guided Meditation
Not everyone can just simply sit in a room, close their eyes, and shut off their monkey brain. (I can’t either). Having a narrator, or teacher, whether in person or via audio or video can guide you through this practice.
There are a few free guided meditation apps, like Simply Being and Headspace. Try a handful of them out – you may find you like one more than the others based on personal preference.
You do not have to invest a lot of time meditating – even 5 minutes is sufficient
#7 Guided Journaling
Like meditation, not everyone can simply open a book and start writing (I can’t do that either). There are many therapeutic benefits to journaling. It’s calming, and can release pent-up feelings and help us let go of stress, tension and negative thoughts, yet most of us don’t do this simple practice because we just don’t know how to start.
Guided journaling is the perfect solution because it gives you, the writer, specific exercises to do. These journals may ask you daily or weekly questions or give you tasks like:
- List the ways someone you love would describe you
- List the things you want to say no to
- What are your three most frequent thoughts?
- Today I am grateful for:
You can find guided journals at large book stores like Indigo/Chapters and on Amazon
My advice? Use this as a starting point for self care practices that you can start implementing into your life, and think about other small changes that can make an impact. Think small. Perhaps it’s preparing an awesome breakfast for yourself every morning, or simply locking the bathroom door because you’re tired of interruptions. Maybe it’s putting on mascara, or sitting outside with a coffee/tea for 10 minutes of glorious solo time. Don’t worry about the grand selfcare adventures on social media, just do you!