Seeing this post, one might think to themselves, “What does self-care have to do with motherhood?” My answer to you is it has everything to do with motherhood.
I am working on my Master of Social Work degree. In social work, there is a huge focus on self-care, to the extent that the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics has been amended to include self-care. The reason is simple: whether you are a social worker, mom, dad, or anyone who takes care of others, you cannot effectively be a caretaker if you don’t take care of yourself. Additionally, if you don’t make time for self-care, you can become prone to burnout and high levels of stress.
Self-care can look different for everyone depending on their needs.
My self-care usually includes daily exercise, an occasional pampering (facial or spa treatment), and setting boundaries. As a people-pleaser, I’ve had to adjust to setting boundaries.
Below are some self-care suggestions that you can implement in your own life to help to take better care of yourself and make yourself a priority each day:
- Exercise daily: Even a short walk each day counts!
- Up your water intake: Hydrating sufficiently can do wonders for so many aspects of your health.
- Get adequate sleep: This isn’t always easy as a mom, but my best advice is to listen to your body. If there is a day in which you need to go to sleep when the kids do, and you feel guilty because there are other things that you should be doing, go to bed. Your body needs it.
- Go see your doctors: We are often so busy keeping up with our kids’ appointments and activities that sometimes years can pass without going to our own checkups. Carve out time in your schedule to fit in these necessary appointments; sometimes preventative care can be life-saving.
- Set boundaries: As I mentioned above, this was very difficult for me to implement. I am the type of person who feels badly saying no and who wants to make sure others are happy even if it adds stress to my own life. But, what a life-changer this has been for my mental health! Go with your gut. If someone asks you to do something and you know it is going to push you to the brink, you can say no! If you need that time for yourself or your family, you can say no! In time, it becomes easier to say no.
- Take some time for yourself: This could be taking some time to enjoy a quiet, hot shower, treating yourself to a little spa treatment, taking time to read your favorite book or listening to music you enjoy each day. If possible, try to incorporate this “me time” into your day!
- See a counselor: Just as prioritizing seeing your doctor is important, seeing a counselor on a regular basis can help keep your mental health in check. Whether you are dealing with traumatic past or present issues, or need to discuss your day-to-day problems with someone with a mental health background, it can really help.
Spirituality can be very different for everyone, depending on background, religion, and beliefs. I encourage you to spend more time in whatever it may be that you believe. This can look like:
- Finding what you believe and why: Often, people believe things in their lives (not just when it comes to religion) and cannot back up their beliefs. Take some time to research what you believe and why.
- If you have a religious belief, carve out time to grow in this: Take up a bible study (or whichever book your religion uses), spend more time in prayer and reflection, or take time to journal about things for which you are grateful.
- Take time to meditate: You don’t need to be religious to meditate. Take time to connect with nature and the world around you, and exist in the calm of the day.
- Take some time for friends: This may not mean going out each week (most of us don’t have that kind of energy or flexibility in our schedule), but seeing friends every so often helps keep a connection alive. It can be as simple as texting your friends to see how they are doing. This is something I need to work on!
- Take time for your significant other: Date nights are great, but are not always convenient. Even so, it is important to make the time to connect with your significant other despite the craziness of the day. Every night, my husband and I take time together after our youngest kids go to sleep. We do a devotional, play a computer game, or simply hang out. Time together is essential in keeping a connection with our spouses alive so that we don’t get lost in the busyness of parenthood.