Working, writing, and taking care of four girls creates a full and busy life. These three roles are where I spend the majority of my time in a given week. And the demands in these areas of my life is never completed. It is a non-stop never-ending to-do lists of obligations in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of these parts of my life, and I wouldn’t change it at all. And, to stay healthy with all of these demands, I have to take care of myself. With a busy, demanding schedule, I’ve learned over the years, I have to be creative and persistent to find ways to bring self-care into my everyday routine.
I also know what self-care practices brings me the most joy, harmony, and peacefulness in a busy schedule. What may work for me, may not work for you.
There is no one size fits all or one way to do self-care effectively.
But you do have to know yourself, or spend some time seeing what self-care routines work for you.
My motto is, be inspired by what other people do, but don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on what works for you and increases your personal well-being.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to get started and ideas on how to increase self-care for busy moms who don’t have a lot of time.
- How much sleep makes you feel rested? Adjust your evening routine to ensure you get the amount of sleep you need. Shifting your bedtime earlier by fifteen to thirty minutes earlier is a great way to start.
- Replace scrolling through the television, electronics, and phones before bed, with a calming and relaxing bedtime routine. Some ideas include: reading, five minutes of gentle stretching or yoga.
- Drink water throughout the day and limit caffeine intake.
- Throughout the day take three minutes to work on regulating your breathing. People who are stressed or anxious do not breathe fully. Take three minutes regulating your breath by doing this: Inhale counting to five, hold your breath counting to five, exhale counting to five. Do this for three minutes and notice how relaxed you feel. Intentional, regulating breathing is an excellent self-care practice which helps physical emotional, and mental/cognitive well-being.
- Plan and pack your meals, just as you do for your children to take care of your physical energy throughout the day.
Throughout any given day, we can have many emotional reactions and feelings. Pay attention to the feelings you are having in a given day. Do you notice a trend? Meaning, are most of your feelings challenging or tend to be negative such as stress, frustration, irritability or sadness? Are you aware of what situations or activities bring you joy, happiness, and peace?
- Increase emotional self-care by labeling and identify the emotions you are feeling. Pay attention to patterns.
- Reach out to emotionally supportive people in your life not only for stressful situations but also to share positive experiences as well.
- Journal for a few minutes a day about what happened in your day. Journaling can be a great way to work through challenging feelings and bring you to a place of awareness on what you need to do. Be sure to highlight your accomplishments and success in handling situations that are stressful.
- Be sure to make time for activities that bring you positive emotional experiences and joy.
Are you in desperate need connecting with friends and can’t remember when the last time you bonded with friends? Is there a person in your life you’ve been meaning to catch up with but keep putting it off?
- Reach out to your friends to schedule a time to get together. If there’s someone you want to catch up with, pick up the phone and call or text and choose a date to see one another. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our schedules and routines, and we forget how important our friendships and relationships are.
- Send a note or a card to someone you care about. In the busy world of instant everything, sending and receiving a handwritten note is quite meaningful.
The average person has approximately 30, 000 thoughts a day! Pay attention to the tone of these thoughts. Individuals who have a depressive mindset tend to have more negative thoughts about themselves, others, the world and the future. Our thoughts impact our emotions and influence our behaviors.
- Watch Your Thoughts. If you notice a trend where you have more negative or judgemental thoughts, work to shift these thoughts into neutral and/or positive thoughts by challenging these thoughts. I love the quote by Rumi which summarizes this so well: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? I will also add, is there another way of saying or having this thought without judgment or being so harsh?
- Use kind and supportive self-talk. Would you ever talk to your friend, co-worker, child or partner/spouse the way you talk to yourself? Often, we can use and have harsh, critical words in our thoughts toward ourselves we would never use, or seldom use towards someone else. Be kind to yourself, which starts within, specifically, the way we speak to ourselves in the quiet of our minds.
- In the morning, before you put your feet on the ground to start the day, spend a few minutes, mentally reviewing all that you are grateful for in your life. You can do this anytime of the day and before you go to bed.
- Take a few moments each day to spend time in nature. Start with five minutes. Whether you sit or go for a walk, let go of electronics and technology and simply use all of your senses to take in what you see, hear, smell, and feel. Add in a few moments of intentional breathing, and I am sure you’ll feel the improvement.
- Take a minute, close your eyes, and send love to those in your life, near and far.
- If you have a religious practice, spend a few moments in prayer or ritual that brings you meaning.
If you have no idea how to increase self-care in your life, then pick one suggestion from each category to try each day over the week. Start small with one self-care activity. If you know what works for you, then make a plan to schedule your self-care activities each day. Start with a few of these suggestions this week and notice how you feel. Small amounts of intentional self-care will add up over time.
I hope this list of ideas on how to increase self-care inspires you to carve out small amounts of time to improve your well-being. If you have go-to self-care skills and strategies not listed here, please share them with us in the comments. The more us moms can support one another, the healthier we will be!
© Copyright Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2017