This past week my daughter was in the middle of a developmental leap, characterized by mood swings, sleep disturbances and extreme mommy obsession. On the worst days, she breastfeeds constantly, and gets upset when I put her down for any stretch of time, she’s happy one minute, then she’s sad, it’s a total emotional roller coaster. It’s now the end of the week and I am beyond drained, both physically and mentally. So self-care has been at the forefront of my mind. I feel pretty burned out, and i’m not gonna lie, it shows. As moms, especially when you’re new to to it all, we sometimes have a hard time finding balance. Everything can get a little overwhelming, and most times, we just keep going. You can’t pour from an empty cup and if we want to continue to be the best caregivers to our children, we must first care for ourselves, so I created a list of things that I do to help me to regroup, relax and get myself back on track.
Get some sleep
I’ve been running on very little sleep daily, so much so that before motherhood, I would not have believed it was possible for a human to function this sleep deprived. While it is possible, your body really does need proper sleep to give it a chance to repair and rejuvenate. Ask for help, from your significant other, a friend, your mom, someone you trust basically. Have them sit with your kid or kids and get some sleep.
Do a simple at home facial
I love Korean sheet masks. They’re cheap, they’re moisturizing, cool and soothing. I buy a bunch and slap one on when my skin looks dull and in need of a quick pick me up. If you’re interested, these are the ones I use. Your face feels so nice afterwards and it only takes a few minutes.
Get some exercise
Exercise is great because of the endorphins it releases. Structurally, endorphins are similar to morphine and act as natural painkillers. They bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being. If you’re like me and you hate structured workouts because you’re really freakin’ tired and unmotivated, put on your favorite playlist and dance in the most carefree and uninhibited way for a few minutes, stretch, bend and just go crazy.
Spend a little time outdoors
Go for a walk. Spending time outdoors is all about the fresh air and change in scenery. It makes you happier, improves blood pressure, regulates your heart rate and helps to clear your mind a little. Even if you take your kids with you, it will do wonders for your mood.
Connect with friends
Connecting with friends doesn’t even have to mean that you go out. A nice chat on the phone helps. It’ll take your mind off of the stressful things for a little while. When I talk to my friends, I definitely like to steer the conversation away from things that are too heavy and focus on lighthearted humor because laughing makes me feel good. I mean who doesn’t like a good laugh?
Drink water! Hydration helps your body to perform at optimal levels. And we need to be healthy to take care of our kids. Water regulates body temperature, lubricates joints and helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy.
Eat a nourishing meal
I often see moms complaining about missed meals, but like a car, our brains need fuel to run efficiently. In the earliest days of motherhood, despite being a huge foodie, It would be hard to find the time to eat, and it definitely made me feel like crap which left me feeling super unfocused and hangry! So now I prioritize eating and I’m a much happier person for it.
Take some deep breaths
Close your eyes. Now, take a deep breath in, pause, and think about something that makes you happy, then, slowly breathe out. Feel any better? Breathing is a powerful stress reliever that’s supposed to help you feel less anxious. There’s tons of articles online about the benefits of breathing and different methods to make it more effective. It can be done anywhere, and doesn’t cost a dime. I recently received an Apple Watch as a gift and it makes me do breathing exercises several times a day. I gotta admit that at first I thought it was total nonsense but it does indeed help.
Take a hot shower or bubble bath
Even if you’re beyond overwhelmed, getting in the shower or the bath seems to wash the stress away, even if temporary. Hot water gets your blood moving and helps to loosen up tight muscles. If you really want to take your bath to the next level, there are these awesome bath-bombs that I use, they come in a variety of scents and the best part is, they make you feel super relaxed and they don’t stain your tub.
Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
This one actually takes some time, so I don’t get to do it as often as I like which is sad, because my hands and feet do look a little scary right now. When I do have the chance however, it really has a positive impact on my mood. You really don’t need to be a master nail painter or anything to give yourself a mani/pedi. Just wash your hands or feet, put on a nice moisturizing lotion and give them a little massage. Then file your nails, put on a clear coat of nail polish if you don’t have time to do color and voila! You’re done.
Diffuse essential oils
Essential oils are an all natural way to unwind and relieve stress. They’re the perfect pick me up after a stressful day and best of all, they work in your sleep. Put a few drops into a cool mist humidifier before bed and let them work their magic. The cool mist, helps to keep the air around you moist which has tons of benefits for your skin and hair. And adding oils just makes it even better. My personal favs are lavender and eucalyptus. Lavender not only smells divine, but it reduces stress, enhances mental concentration and calms feelings of anxiety. Eucalyptus has similar effects but also has the added benefit of fighting congestion and helping you to breathe better.
Find a creative outlet (if creativity is your thing)
For me, I write. Writing has really helped me over the last few months to overcome some of my anxiety and has given me an avenue to express myself. It’s freeing and really makes me feel like I’m doing something just for me. Putting the words in my head onto paper quite literally clears my mind and if creating is your thing, start working on something, anything. Your poetry, a painting, sew, knit, whatever you want to.
There have been many studies, including one from Harvard University that have found links between expressing gratitude and overall happiness. It can help you to have a more positive and hopeful mindset, improved relationships and even help you to get better sleep. Just grab a pen and paper and write a list of things you’re grateful for each day and actively practice saying thank you to the people in your life. It really puts things into perspective, makes you feel good and gives you a greater appreciation for the good things in your life.
What are some things you do to practice self-care? I’m always open to new ideas so definitely share your feedback and ideas with me.