If you’re like most moms, the needs of your children (and often everyone else) come before you see to your own. Perhaps you have such a loving heart that you do more than you should for others. There is a thin line between helping and enabling, and maybe you’re wondering if you do more enabling than helping.
What happens? You burn out or at least come close! Sooner or later, the realization comes that if you don’t take good enough care of yourself – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – you are no good to anyone else, either!
First of all, self-care is not about being selfish in a negative way – it is more like “of the self” than putting your own needs and desires first. It is about achieving balance, so that you’re not giving more than you’re getting; you can relax and replenish and then continue to assist others from a healthier vantage point. Some people consider self-care to be an improvement of your own health. The price of not getting enough self-care is that we become ill and our own health breaks down. (Even your immune system can break down under all that stress.)
Here are some suggestions for taking good care of yourself:
1. Ask for help. Don’t be shy – just do it.
2. Do not over commit. Be realistic about how much you can fit into a day and still feel good, yourself. Time management is essential. Learn to say no – nicely but firmly.
3. Let yourself cry if you need to. We all need a healthy outlet for our feelings so keeping your own feelings inside will not create a healthy balance in your life.
4. Do something especially nice for yourself each day. Make it something small; it could be taking a nap or listening to some music you like or diffusing oils.
5. Pamper yourself. Buy yourself a small indulgent gift or give yourself a facial or relax in a hot bubble bath – whatever you like doing – at least once a week.
6. Make sure you’re eating healthy. It’s even more important for moms to eat healthy since parenting can be so challenging. Many moms parent, they are a wife, daughter, have a job, and the list goes on. So, get all the nutrients you need to live a fast-paced, hectic life as so many moms do. Many of these nutrients are found in veggies!
7. Schedule time with friends. Yes! Even if you have to get a baby-sitter, go have lunch with a friend or take in a movie. You can also do this by yourself (but it may be a lot of fun with friends). It’s called “me” time!
8. Find a little time to exercise. Even if you’re just clocking in a certain number of steps, or maybe you’re dancing to music you love, move your body – it is such a great stress reliever!
9. Stay hydrated. In addition to eating healthy, drink good quality water (like spring water) throughout the day. Water helps your heart, and helps your muscles and joints work better. Water is a natural cleanser.
10. Finally, make sure you are getting high quality sleep at night. Do not fall asleep with the light or television on and your room should be dark. Keep a regular wake and sleep pattern – as much as possible. Avoid stimulants like coffee and nicotine before bedtime, and it’s also not a good idea to have an alcoholic beverage right before you fall asleep.
If you get in the habit of taking good care of yourself, you will likely enjoy your life much more. In fact, you may end up having fun in all the roles you play instead of feeling stressed out.
As always, have a happy, holistically healthy day!
Dr. Donna Poppendieck (Dr. P) has over 30 years of experience in the mental health care field. She is a seasoned college professor and instructor for providers. She uses credible, proven holistic health strategies in instruction for parents of children with mental health challenges looking for another approach as well as healthcare providers seeking to implement or understand holistic strategies.