Moms don’t always prioritize self-care. We can get busy and forget. We can get too overwhelmed to even think about it. And we often feel guilty if we even think about taking the time, since it feels selfish. But self-care is important, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost a lot of money.
It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. It’s a necessity. Without time for yourself, without time to rest and recharge, mom’s mental & physical health can suffer. Here are 10 strategies you can use to make self-care a regular part of your life.
1. Color Therapy
There’s a reason adult coloring books have become a best-selling thing. That’s because doing something creative is relaxing. So grab your kids’ coloring book and crayons, and go color something.
If coloring books don’t appeal, try sketching or cartooning. We all doodled in school, and it was a stress-reliever then. It can be just as stress-relieving now.
And there’s always the social + creative opportunities, such as a Paint Nite or similar event. That’s where you get together with other people — friends or strangers — and take a one-time class on how to put together some DIY project. Whether that’s a painting you can frame, a sign board you could hang, or some other artistic project, you’ll usually get a good meal and a good time out of it too.
2. Get reflective
Whether you journal, meditate, or use affirmations or rituals, reflecting on your current life, your past, your goals and dreams can be incredibly recharging.
Try using a journal to write out gratitude. Or create a vision board of your future goals. Maybe you’ll put on some soft music and just sit with your own feelings for 5 minutes. (Don’t fall asleep!!)
Read uplifting books — your faith’s devotionals, or a self-help book from a particularly inspiring author. Then reflect on what you read, maybe writing down your responses in a pretty notebook.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
When you’re dehydrated, even just slightly, it can affect your memory, your energy, and your mood. So basically, going without proper hydration makes mom-brain worse. No one needs that!
Whether you take 30 seconds to have a glass of water at the sink between children and laundry, or you pause for a coffee or tea break, take those few moments to have a drink and refresh your mind.
And if you’re like me, surrounded by children all day long, you may think this is impossible to do without interruption. And, that’s true. But your kids need to hydrate just as much as you do. If you make it part of a daily routine, and you give your children their own snack and drink break, you may get a few minutes to sip and breathe.
4. Commune with nature
Studies show that exposure to nature can improve your memory, decrease your stress, and relieve fatigue. There are so many benefits to getting outside for a little bit. (There’s even some benefit to just viewing natural scenes.)
So take up a hobby that takes you outside. Maybe it’s a walk around the block, or heading to the nearby park. Or just standing on your porch breathing in (combining with strategy #2?).
My favorite way to commune with nature is to garden. We plant flowers and a vegetable garden. And every year, I try to do a little bit more or change something up. My children help with planting, weeding, watering, and all the other lawn and garden chores that come with living in a house too.
5. Clean yourself up.
When you’re feeling sluggish, worn out, and drained, getting physically clean can help clear out the cobwebs on your brain too. So this Self-Care Strategy is all about hygiene.
Try taking a long, hot shower or bath (after the kids are in bed?) followed by a quick, cold rinse. The hot shower will relax tense muscles and open up your pores, cleaning out excess dirt and oil on your skin. The cold rinse will seal up your pores with all the moisture from the steam in the room, leaving you feeling all pink and tingly. And the coolness of the water after being so warm will refresh you. Surprisingly, having that cold rinse immediately after a hot shower will help you go to sleep even faster, since it reduces your body temperature faster, which is better for sleeping.
Alternatively, you could try a DIY manicure or pedicure. Or maybe invest in your mental health by booking an appointment with a salon. Not only would the massages feel good, but taking that time out to do something just for you is fantastic self-care. And you get to remind yourself of that moment with the little bit of pretty you’ll see every time you look down.
6. Massage the stress away.
Speaking of massages, did you know most work benefits cover massage therapy? And even if you don’t have a benefit coverage plan, a 30 minute massage can be a lot more affordable than you think. Look for a family-friendly office — maybe in partnership with a chiropractor — and bring the kids. Some places may even offer childcare as part of your service.
If getting a massage doesn’t sound appealing, try a DIY one. Maybe you’ll use a massage tool, or just a heating pad on those spots that twinge, while you read stories or scroll Instagram.
For a real DIY approach, lay down on the floor and get your kids to put a comforter or thick blanket on your back. Then hand them your rolling pin and tell them to roll it down your back and legs. Let them climb on your back, standing and sitting, and when they’re done, you’ll feel as loose as if you’d paid for a professional.
7. Help yourself by helping out.
There’s really nothing to match the feeling of helping someone else, and knowing you’ve made a difference. Charities beg for volunteers, and many are child-friendly. But whether you include your kids or just go yourself, volunteering and community service are a great way to practice self-care.
What kinds of things are important to you? Maybe you’re passionate about helping animals, so volunteer with the humane society or an animal rescue. You could foster animals, or go to a centre to care for animals, clean up, and sort and organize supplies. Food banks, pregnancy centres, homeless shelters, thrift stores, hospice care facilities, nursing homes and hospitals all depend on volunteers to function, so it’s just a matter of finding your fit.
And if none of them fit, try a fundraiser. Collect bottles, hold a food or clothing drive, or complete a challenge (a run? a walk?) to give back.
8. Take a power nap.
The art of the nap is something that gets lost as adults. But science has shown that a “power nap” improves alertness, working memory, and our ability to function and perform.
A power nap is between 10-30 minutes, but even a 6-minute nap is enough to improve your memory. So it’s OK to doze off on the couch during your toddler’s favorite show.
Just remember to set an alarm.
9. Indulge in a little pick-me-up.
We all have that thing that instantly changes our mood. It can be anything from a piece of luxury chocolate, a scent that reminds you of a fun memory, or the feel of something comfortable. And it should be a go-to, not a guilty pleasure.
There’s no shame in indulgence. It’s when indulgence turns to addiction that there’s a problem. But having that glass of wine, or that handful of chips, or pulling out your favorite soft pajamas in the middle of the day might be exactly what you need to get you out of a funk. Change up your indulgence, and indulge in something every day.
10. Socializing self-care.
Connecting with other adults is important. Being a mom, whether you work outside the home or inside the home, is isolating. So we have a huge need to get together with other adults, regularly.
The old saying is that joy is doubled and misery is halved when it’s shared. And it’s true. When you can celebrate with others, your happiness just grows. And when you can vent to your friends, or share your grief, somehow, that support makes it easier to handle.
We all need to know that someone is just there. So find your tribe, and stay connected. It’s an important part of your self-care.
Take Care of Yourself
Mom, you’re important. You don’t need anyone to tell you how important you are — just go hide in the bathroom for a couple of minutes. But sometimes we moms can forget that we need to be taken care of too. We’re so busy taking care of everyone else, that we forget about us.
I am making this a priority for me. I will take care of myself so that I can take better care of my kids. Are you with me?
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