Are you a super busy mom who is stressed, tired, feeling like you need a break with no time to take that break? Are you looking for ways to practice self-care without feeling guilty or breaking the bank? Chances are you are emphatically answering yes and nodding your head! Life is busy and as moms we can often feel that busyness to the 10th degree!
Motherhood is hard for even the most experienced mom. With societies increasing pressure on us to have well rounded children and the demands of trying to be well rounded ourselves, it becomes quite easy to leave taking care of yourself off the to-do list.
I recently conducted a survey where I asked several moms about their opinion of self-care and what self-care looked like to them. Nearly 40% of the mothers who answered said that self-care made them feel guilty. 72% wanted to know ways to practice self-care. These numbers are startling and speak to the fact that while self-care should be a habit and a lifestyle (you cannot pour out from an empty cup), it isn’t.
We find ourselves at the end of the week exhausted and with no room to pour into ourselves. Mamas, we can not keep this up. In order to be the best version of ourselves we have to learn components of self-care and strategies to incorporate into our daily lives.
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Why is self-care important for busy moms?
Self-care is any deliberate measure you take to take care of your well-being. Most of us take very little time to actually pay attention to caring for ourselves and even less take the time to assess our personal needs.
One of the biggest myths about self-care is it is selfish. This could not be farther from the truth. This lie is able to propagate especially in women and moms because we are natural nurturers. Our first thought is to take care of those around us and the assumption is choosing to take care of ourselves is fruitless effort.
The truth is self-care is preventative. Taking the time to find ways to care for yourself is in fact how you avoid being selfish. Whether you are taking time off to do something you enjoy or scheduling the time to do something that you need to do for your mental, physical, or financial health, doesn’t matter. What is important is that you understand that self-care is not a luxury, it’s a vital part of sustaining health.
Benefits of Self-Care
There are many benefits to practicing self-care and findings methods of self-care that honor your needs. Studies show that not taking time to prioritize yourself and your needs for even a few minutes each day leads to resentment of those taking up your time and space. Resentment leads to frustration and potentially harsh words and hurt feelings.
Self-care allows you to stay on top of your physical and mental health needs. When you consistently are assessing your health you are more likely to find inconsistencies and seek the help you need.
Self-care also helps you to practice gratitude and see the beauty in the things around you. You gain a better appreciation for the people around you when you can clear mind-space with down time for yourself.
Lastly, finding ways to practice self-care can help you build deeper and more meaningful relationships. Having a regular self-care routine with varied types of self-care allows you to get to know yourself better and understand your needs in a grander way. Understanding yourself and your needs helps you to better be able to relay that to those close to you! Better communication and deeper understanding leads to richer, more meaningful relationships.
Tips for making self-care a priority as a working mom
With all these benefits, you may be wondering how to live a life that prioritizes self-care. I get it, time is valuable and already so limited. I have found a few strategies that have helped me to incorporate more self-care into my daily routine.
- Accurately assess your need for self-care by asking yourself a few key questions about your needs. Do I feel guilty when I make time for myself? Do you feel okay about slowing down sometimes? Are you overwhelmed? Do not judge yourself or your answers. You just want to allow yourself to be aware of where you are with your self-care needs.
- Develop a positive mindset for self-care by changing the way you think about it. Understand that self-care is not selfish. Self-care is preventative and necessary.
- Create a Daily Self-Care checklist by understanding that some self-care activities are not only a part of taking care of yourself, but they are basic needs. Add items like hygiene, hydration, and sleep to your checklist.
- Start a journaling habit for self-reflection. Personally, I have been prayer journaling for years and the process has helped me significantly in growing my relationship with God and my relationship with myself.
- Create a self-care morning routine to start your day off right. Placing your self-care needs as the first thing of your day is an excellent way to make sure you are prioritizing yourself.
- Learn how to say no to tasks and activities that do not serve you or your family. This one has been hard to me. I am the queen of over-extending myself. When I started giving a firm no to things that did not fit into my schedule, I found more time for self-care and family time.
- Get comfortable asking for help. Asking for help is okay! We often don’t have time for self-care because we are trying to do ALL THE THINGS. We are not made to do life alone so ask for help.
- Create a go-to self-care list of simple things to do. Having a list of 10-15 self-care activities handy for when I need 15 minutes has really helped me to fill the quiet time with activities that benefit my well-being.
- Create a self-care basket to readily be able to use your available time for caring for yourself.
- Utilize the time you have by multitasking commutes and other mundane activities with self-care. Have a long drive home from work? Try listening to an audiobook while you ride!
- Be organized and plan out your days and weeks with self-care added to your schedule. Set quiet time dates with yourself and enjoy some much needed peace.
How do you practice self-care?
Finding ways to take care of yourself as a mom is important for your own wellbeing as well as that of your family. When you are constantly giving to everyone else, it is very easy to run on an empty tank. Practicing self-care is an important part of being the best mom you can for your children!
There are 4 major and 2 minor ways to practice self-care. Understanding the purpose of each and knowing some simple ways to incorporate them into your daily schedule allows you to be more intentional about adding self-care into your work-life rhythm.
Purpose: Physical self-care is any activity done to improve the well-being of your physical health. Physical self-care says “I believe my body is a temple and I will care for it well.” This method of caring for yourself allows you to do things that help in both overall health and awareness. We often relate physical self-care to exercising and eating right, and essentially this covers a lot of what it means to take care of your physical self. It’s also being mindful of negative attention you give to your physical health like maybe binging that ice cream tub after a hard day.
Needs being met: Physical health, minimizing diseases caused by lack of physical care, energy levels, appearance
Examples: Making annual check-ups, Diy-spa time, maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, drinking water, exercising, taking a walk during lunch
Purpose: This form of self-care includes any activity that stimulates your mind or intellect. I also like to consider stress and anxiety management in this form of self-care. As moms we know stress and anxiety almost as intimately as we know our children. Statistics Brain Research Institute reports that 86% of working moms admit to sometimes/frequently feel stressed, and nearly 40% say they “always feel rushed.” Mental self-care says “It is okay for me to focus my thoughts on something that grows me mentally. Taking a mental break does not make me a bad mom.”
Needs being met: Stress reduction, Anxiety moderation, Intellectual stimulation, Critical thinking and self-awareness
Examples: Reading a book, speaking to a therapist, going to a museum, solving a puzzle, journaling, meditation
Purpose: Emotional self-care is a method of self-care that allows you to deal with your emotions in a way that doesn’t label them or make your feel bad about how you feel. Emotional self-care is often neglected because the benefits aren’t as tangible as say physical self-care. This version of taking care of yourself isn’t making sure you feel good all the time. It’s more about finding a way to validate and understand the hard emotions and make yourself feel better when you do feel them!
Needs being met: Emotional validation, stress management
Examples: Journaling, creating art, seeing a therapist, accepting your feelings, cry when you need to, laugh often
Purpose: Spiritual self-care allows you to step outside of the here and now and connect with purpose greater than you. As Christians we can feel odd about self-care in general because our beliefs rest on loving others more than ourselves. I have two myth busters for that! 1) Jesus himself often woke early to commune with God. This doesn’t only teach us about prayer, but also the importance of carving out time for yourself. 2) Loving your neighbor more than yourself is a common misspeak in the Christian community. The reference scripture is Mark 12:30-31 and it says
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.'"
God wants you to love others LIKE you love yourself. If you aren’t good at loving you, its hard to love others.
Needs being met: Understanding personal values and individual value. Connecting to power greater than yourself.
Examples: attend church services, pray, journal, spend time in nature, consider things you are grateful for
Purpose: Social self-care allows you to explore the part of humanity where we are better with others. Now, there are some people that LOVE to be around lots of others and some people that like to be around only a few others. As a busy working mom, I do not always feel I have the time for big extravaganzas. As an introvert, the thought of a large extravaganza is terrifying. Social self-care for me looks like making time to have in person coffee dates with my closest friends that are close and having meaningful phone dates with my friends that are far.
Needs being met: Human interaction and connection
Examples: Brunch or girl’s night with your friends, having a quiet dinner with your friends
Purpose: Practical self-care is a method of taking care of yourself that is often not considered by mainstream discussions, but it is also the form of self-care than many of us practice without knowing it. These activities are tasks that we do to prevent future stressful situations. They are often tasks that may seem mundane, but actually help us maintain balance before we get to a point of spiraling stress and anxiety.
Needs being met: Core needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and financial health
Examples: Creating a budget, organizing your home, creating routines and schedules for chores or grocery shopping
Develop a self-care plan that incorporates multiple ways of practicing self-care
Practicing self-care often is a preventative way to avoid the stress and anxiety that can come from being burnt out. Varying the ways you practice self-care allows you to focus on your whole self and to create a life that is more balanced. One tip for creating a schedule that prioritizes self-care is to develop a self-care plan or checklist. Having a go to list of different types of self-care that you enjoy can help you include self-care into your daily schedule.