Let’s talk self-care. I feel like we are seeing a lot of social media posts about being overwhelemed doing it all (mom, maid, teacher, spouse/significant other, business woman, friend, daughter, chef, and it goes on and on). I’m also seeing a lot of posts about self-care and “treat yo-self”. While I’m a big fan of the “treat yo-self mindset”, I see some pretty crucial self-care practices that we aren’t doing.
Here are my Top 10 Self-Care Practices to help you get through your day:
WAKE UP ALONE:
Wake up before you kids, even though it sucks to get up early. Some days, it’s easier to let your toddler screams to wake you up, or your big kid wander in your room to be the first thing you see. Those are the days that can make your attitude suffers, you feel like you aren’t a good mom or spouse. But you may find that the days you wake up early are met with SILENCE and peace, leaving you with a few minutes alone. You can hopefully get your first sip of coffee and savor it selfishly. You don’t have to do anything, just stare at a wall, scroll social media, look out the window. But take a damn moment for yourself.
It’s easy to get caught up in the bustle of a busy morning, especially if you have kids, only to look up and it’s 10:00 am and you haven’t eaten anything yet. Unless you’re an intermittent faster or you just woke up (you lucky duck), skipping breakfast probably isn’t the best way to start your day. When you don’t fuel your body for normal functioning, it has to produce energy itself. And if you’ve ever tried the deprivation diet or starving yourself to lose weight, you know you’re going to be left with very little energy for you daily tasks. Regardless of what your weight loss goals are you need food. Eating a balanced diet is a great way to give yourself a boost in the physical and mental health department. Aim for a breakfast that has fiber, fat, and protein. And yes, fiber means carbs. Carbohydrates that are high in fiber are the ultimate energy givers, without the sugar or caffeine crash. Give yourself the gift of a beautiful and delicious breakfast. Here are some of my favorites:
LAY DOWN A ROUTINE:
A routine doesn’t need to be the same everyday, it can be fluid. But knowing that there are a few things you need to get done everyday can go a long way in driving self-care and relieving anxiety. A simple routine can be as easy as breakfast, exercise, lunch, nap time/work, dinner, and bed. Loose structure not only helps you, but it also helps your kids (If you have any). Children crave structure and routine. And in unknown times, we all need a little structure.
The sun is such a gift! Go outside, breathe in the fresh air, and feel the sun on your face. Vitamin D is a mood lifter and an immune booster. Even on days when it is tough to get motivation or to get yourself moving, going for a leisurely stroll can be just the kick in the pants you need. You can even turn on a guided meditation app and use this as some time for self-reflection. Every time you get outside stress can leave your body, making you feel better and more at ease.
MOVE YOUR BODY:
Getting your blood pumping doesn’t mean you need to do a high intensity or endurance exercise. You can do yoga, simple stretching, or simply a walk. Consistent movement boosts endorphins and as Elle Woods will forever remind us: endorphins make you happy, and happy people don’t kill their husbands. Get your kids moving with you, they probably need a little stress relief too. You can turn the music up loud and dance or jump around. Even if you can’t get the motivation until right before you get in bed, get on the floor and do some stretching.
ASK FOR HELP:
This is a hard one for most people. Asking for help is no joke. Finding the best ways to articulate yourself, especially when you are stressed, can be really hard. But this one is SO important. It’s easy to forget the Maternal Mental Load is more than a to-do list. It’s making sure that everything is done for everyone, even the small things. Ask yourself, if you didn’t plan out what your family was having for dinner, would they eat? If the answer is no, it might be time to ask for help. When asking for help isn’t enough (because let’s be real, we shouldn’t have to ask for help), simply ask to be recognized. Ask someone, your fellow caregiver/Co-habitant/even coworker, that you may not need them to do anything different. You simply need them to recognize that this mental load exists and if you need to take a few extra time outs or walks outside, it’s because you have too many tabs open in your browser. The unseen stress can be worse than the stress you can see. And once you and others recognize it then asking for help becomes easier.
DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR HANDS:
What is that saying about idle hands? I don’t know if I believe they are the devil’s workshop, but I do know that being able to channel your frustration, stress, anxiety into a small task can be an incredible form of self-care. You may want to try baking, cooking, coloring, knitting, crocheting, etc. Even playing Words with Friends via your tablet or phone can be nice. It’s important to note, that by doing these activities with your hands you aren’t making yourself busy and tuning out. You’re giving your brain an opportunity to slow way down, close a few tabs in the browser, and focus on something small.
CALL A FRIEND:
Can your friends fix your existential concerns? Probably not. They can, however, lend an ear and a safe space for you to voice some of your fears. And when you talk things out, you can usually come up with the solution on your own. Plus, when you talk to a friend, someone you love, you feel safe and valued. When you are able to accept that value from someone else it is easier to see your value and worth. Having a healthy emotional ego isn’t a bad thing. Finding comfort in yourself because of the love others can be incredibly uplifting and rewarding.
EAT MORE FRESH FRUIT:
You would be surprised about the impact some fresh fruit can have on your digestion and mood. Believe it or not when you have good digestion, your mood is affected. The healthier the gut, the healthier the mind. And there are tons of fruit options that are a good source of water (not to mention vitamins and minerals). Try being down in the dumps when you’re eating a perfectly ripe strawberry (preferably paired with pound cake and whipped cream). Or splitting a watermelon open and enjoy watching the joy on your kids’ faces. It’ll be a sticky mess, but totally worth it. Even if you’re not a huge fruit eater, try to find ways to add vibrant fruits to your daily diet and take a moment to treasure the sun kissed gift you’ve been given.
HAVE A GOOD F*CKING CRY:
I though about leaving this out, or at least editing it. But honestly, it is the most important tool in your arsenal when it comes to self-care. And it’s so important that it requires its own expletive. There is healing, hope, and release in a good cry. Being able to be so honest with yourself by embracing the emotions coursing through your body. The emotions of stress, fear, anxiety, happiness, and joy are all jumbled into one beautiful brain and there’s nowhere for it to go but out. Instead of releasing all of this in frustration or whatever other egocentric method you have fallen back on before. Take some time to focus on what is really causing the overwhelm and JUST CRY IT OUT.
Give one or two of these a go. Or if you’re already doing a few, add some more to your arsenal. This is the one time that hoarding is a good thing. You can’t have too many tools for self-care. What worked yesterday might not work today, so move on to the next one!