Self-care is taking care of your physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual health through actions, intentions, and behaviors which increase overall well-being. As I have shared in previous posts, What Self Care Is, and What It Isn’t, there is a difference between self-pampering, self-care, and self-indulgence.
Self-pampering and self-indulgence are fine in moderation. Of course, a nice massage getting a manicure, eating an amazing piece of chocolate cake is enjoyable, but it’s about comfort and pleasure instead of coping skills. Self-care is all about developing coping skills, strategies and routines to manage stress, stay in health and promotes overall well-being.
It all sounds so easy and logical, right?
Sure, in an ideal world, as moms, we’d never had a conflict or competing need, or an unexpected situation shaking up our well-intentioned efforts to work on self-care.
Caring for children is filled with chaos, surprises, and reprioritizing who needs what and when. And instead of waiting until your children are in school full day, or older, or when they grow up and away from you, moms have to learn the art of self-care, whatever the age and stage of her child.
Which leads me to a series of questions I want you to ask yourself:
- Is your mindset holding you back from prioritizing for self-care?
- Do you believe you need hours of time to do self-care?
- Do you associate self-care with costing money?
- Can you identify the areas of strengths of self-care in your routine?
- Are you aware of the areas of self-care you can improve?
On this site I have a lot of information on self-care and well-being, as well as a quiz, How is Your Well-Being and Self-Care?, you can take to see your strengths and areas to improve.
I want to encourage you to spend some time thinking about what you could add into your daily life that would bring meaning, joy, and increase your well-being.
I find myself repeating in the therapy hour the importance of physical self-care: getting enough sleep each night (7.5-9 on average), exercise, hydration and mindful nutrition.
And often, this is the hardest for many parents because life can be so hectic and busy raising a child.
I’ve been guilty of putting my physical self-care on the back burner: not getting enough sleep, staying up too late binge watching Netflix, forgetting to drink enough water or not packing a lunch or snacks on work days. And the paradox, I make my children’s lunches, pack their snacks, and have after school snacks ready when they come home from school or are at practices and after school activities. And my children almost always get the recommended amount of sleep for their ages.
Socially, some days it feels like a symphony of coordination taking my four girls where they need to be for activities or going to spend time with friends when I haven’t had dinner out in forever with my girlfriends.
And let’s be honest about the negative self-talk! Have you ever stopped to listen, really listen, to the commentary going on in your mind about yourself? I am pretty sure, on occasion, you have negative self-talk for something you did or didn’t do. But, if your child was frustrated, angry, or made a mistake and called him/herself a name or made global negative statements about their abilities, you’d correct them immediately and offer support and nurturance.
My point is, the barrier to self-care is not time or money or our children, it’s often ourselves.
I want you to spend some time being thoughtful and creative on how you can increase self-care in your life. Start with fifteen minutes each day, making one self-care activity happen. Perhaps writing in a journal, going for a walk, calling a friend, waking up fifteen minutes earlier than the kids and enjoying a cup of tea or coffee will bring you meaning and restoration. I also want you to create a solid foundation of physical well-being by prioritizing sleep, nutrition, hydration and exercise this week.
We can’t give to others what we don’t give to ourselves. Don’t accept the mindset self-care is too difficult when raising children. Make yourself a priority, shift your thinking and take small steps that over time will add up to big differences.
You matter, more than you know. Take care of yourself.
© Copyright Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2017