Everyone around us is talking about self-care and how we need more of it, but how in the world can we fit it into our already busy schedule? On any given day, moms juggle house chores, meals, schedules, work, budgeting, shopping, and more. I remember when I could not even leave the kids to go to the bathroom by myself, let alone take an hour long bath! Can you remember the last time you went out to enjoy something just for you? Oh, and sorry - grocery shopping alone does not count - even though it can feel like a special treat. The good news is, self-care doesn't have to take a lot of time and can be easily integrated into your day. By adding small, simple practices into your daily routine, you can start making a huge impact on your overall well being. Let me tell you how.
There is no denying the importance of getting a little alone time during the week and doing things that bring you a bit of joy, but how many times have you deferred your own needs because your children had to be tended to or the house had to be picked up? We know self-care is important. We know we feel better when we do it. So, why is it so difficult to do on a regular basis? Perhaps we feel selfish or judged for taking time out for ourselves, but if we don't take time to fill our cups first, we won't have anything left for our families. So, let's change our mindset right now about self-care and recognize that you absolutely need it. In fact, you deserve it!
Over the years, I have had to be very intentional about incorporating self-care practices that are best for me. I know when I am consistent with my self-care, I am a much more patient and loving mom. I also know, through trial and error, if things are not simple I may stop doing them. So, I put together some simple daily and weekly self-care practices for myself that fit nicely with my already established routines. Here are some things I have found valuable to me. I also included some other ideas that might inspire you.
Add Meditation to Your Day
Setting time aside each day to still the mind and meditate can have a positive effect, over time, on your baseline state of reactivity and stress. As we meditate, we move from the thinking mind to a deeper state of relaxation. Studies show that meditating for as little as 10 minutes can make a difference. There are many ways to meditate - you can focus on your breathing, you can listen to a guided meditation, you can look at a candle flame, you can repeat a mantra, etc. I like to incorporate my 10 minute meditation time into my morning routine before the kids wake up. I use a wonderful app called Insight Timer for many of my guided meditations. This is a simple way to ensure I fit it in at least once every day.
Move Your Body
Simply moving your body in an active way for 20-30 minutes helps increase blood circulation, aids with digestion, and increases your feel good hormones. You can go for a walk with the dog, turn on some music and free flow dance in your room, do some yoga on Youtube, ride your bike, etc. The idea here is to pick something easy to do that brings you some joy. Ideally you would get your heart pumping, but even less vigorous movement is better than no movement at all. You can be creative about fitting movement into your day too. Maybe do it while prepping meals, turn up the music and dance around the house while you clean, or sneak in some movement while watching your favorite show. I love to play Native Flute Music and do 20-30 minutes of free flow yoga and dance. I like to get it done in the morning after meditation. It is a wonderful way to start my day!
Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is an important self-care practice and should be a priority. Even though this is common sense, how often do you stay up late working on a project or watching your favorite show? Getting the sleep you need is absolutely vital for maintaining good physical health and mental wellbeing. When you are sleeping, cells synthesize protein, tissues repair themselves, and growth hormones are released. Sleep may also help your brain reorganize and retain memories. Each of us has slightly different needs when it comes to amount of sleep we need - a good rule of thumb is to check in with yourself when you wake up. Do you feel well rested and ready to start your day? Most of us need about 7-8 hours of sleep every night and Ayurvedic Health Practitioners recommend sleeping between the hours of 10 p.m.- 6 a.m. I shoot for 8 hours every night but, honestly, I end up getting closer to 7. When I am consistent with my sleep, my body does not ache, my digestion feels good, and my energy stays even all day long.
Take Mini Breaks
It is so important to take 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day as needed. When you start to feel like you might lose it, try one of the following things to help you reset. Stop to take a quick walk around the block, get some water and sit in the yard or on the porch and observe the sights and sounds around you, sit and stretch your body, put on some good music, close your eyes and breathe in for 4 out for 4, focus on gratitude and write down 3 things you are grateful for, smell some of your favorite essential oil scents, give some love to your pet, or simply lay on the bed to rest. Even though it is ideal to do these things on your own, you can incorporate many of these ideas while being in the same room as your children. It would be fun to include your children in some of these activities too. If you find your house a bit overwhelming to stay in, get outside for a little bit of air. It is amazing what a quick change of scenery can do for your mindset.
Weekly Time to Yourself
Arrange for a quiet hour or two alone every week so you can enjoy some of your favorite things and recharge. Be sure you add this important time into your calendar so you won't be tempted to skip it. One of my favorite things to do is go on a walk and talk with friends. I get my exercise in and catch up with other mamas - it is a win, win! Another thing I love to do for myself every week is go on a hike along the creek or in the mountains. I try to schedule an hour a day, a few times a week for "me" time. If you don't have a partner to help you out with the kids, organize a drop off play date or create a mommy co-op of like minded moms to do trades with. Hope you get inspired to take more time out for you. You deserve it! Here is some inspiration:
Read your favorite book or magazine
Go on a walk and talk with friends
Attend an exercise class
Take a long, candlelit bath
Give yourself a manicure and pedicure
Hike or sit in nature
Volunteer for a favorite cause
Work on a fun, crafty project
Put on a facial mask and have a spa hour
Write a letter - yes, an actual letter - to a faraway friend
Look over these ideas and just pick one or two to add this week. Next week, evaluate how it is going and adjust if needed. Perhaps you can add one or two more. Be sure to check in with yourself regularly to find what really feels supportive to you. You can change things around at any time.
After you have figured out what regular practices you want to have in your daily and weekly routines, commit yourself to stay consistent for 3-4 weeks. After a few weeks of ongoing practice, you will begin to feel a shift. You may have a bit more patience, a different way of looking at things, or it may be just a subtle difference in your temperament. The more you consistently give yourself the care you deserve, the better you will feel. I guarantee it!
I am passionate about giving the gift of wellness and self-care to all of you mamas out there. So, I have written a blog post on how to create an at home self-care retreat for yourself and I developed a free mini-retreat and other retreat options that you will love. Read about my offerings here.
Wondering how you can get more self-care time? Read my post on Setting Up a Mommy Co-op. You will be wondering why you didn't do it sooner! :)