Self-care. Something of a buzzword right now, huh? As someone who once worked in marketing, I both love and hate buzzwords. However, self-care, in itself is a great idea. It is a wonderful thing to care for yourself because if we are being honest, at the end of the day nobody else is going to do it for you. Especially you, mama.
But what is self-care? Essentially, it is anything you do to take care of you! Sounds simple, right? It is, and I think for some people it comes really naturally. For others, especially caregivers, I think it gets a little trickier. What might feel natural for one person could make someone else wonder if they are being “selfish” (hint: you aren’t.) I would like to point out that while I’m not an expert—I am pretty confident self-care is not doing something you hate, even if you think it makes you “healthy,” but it might be doing something a little uncomfortable, like discussing your finances with your spouse. It also isn’t self-indulgent or self-destructive like drinking an entire bottle of wine or binge eating until you’re sick. If you feel worse, physically, or mentally after you do whatever you do—you’re doing it wrong.
So as a mom, what does my self-care look like? I’m not hating on Instagram photos of bubble baths and wine glasses. Sometimes that is self-care. Actually, right before I began writing tonight, I took a snap of my hand-poured soy candle in a recycled mason jar, a bath full of Epsom salts and expensive face mask and put it on my story #basic. And, while I can see the benefits of a quiet bath alone, I also realize that it isn’t going to fix my problems. It takes real work to build a life you don’t need escaping from…and at the end of the day, I think that is what self-care really means. Below is my list of what self-care I’ve incorporated into my life regularly to help me battle post-partum anxiety and some substantial life transitions (I got married and became a mom all in a year).
- Schedule and keep doctor’s appointments. Yes, even mundane ones like check-ups or teeth cleanings. If you have kids and can go alone—do that. It adds to the self-care part, but make sure you are making those appointments even if you have to load everyone up and take them with you. Why? Because if you can’t pour from an empty cup, you dang sure can’t pour from a broken one. Take care of yourself on the most basic level. Get those moles looked at. Fill those cavities. You deserve it and even if you can’t say that yet—then know that your kids deserve it.
- Spend some time outdoors. The conversation about screen time is everywhere. We know we are on our devices too much. We know that Netflix binges don’t solve problems, but here we are anyway. I urge you to get outside. I’m very pregnant right now, and I’m very over it. To say I’m in a foul mood 75% of the time would not be an understatement (sorry, husband and family) but when I get outside and feel the sunshine on my face and leave my phone tucked away I feel a bit lighter.
- Exercise, but…if you hate spin class and it feels like torture every single time stop going to spin class! If a walk in the park gets your adrenaline pumping and a little boob sweat rolling—do it! There is a reason exercise is on every list about everything ever. It works. It feels good. You just have to find what works for you. Exercise is not a punishment.
- Can everyone afford therapy? Maybe not. It is becoming increasingly more common, insurance provided, and widely available though. You can even have therapy online. I made the decision with my family to start seeing a wonderful therapist I’ve known for a long time right in my hometown, and it is hands down the best thing I did for myself post-baby. Getting married is hard. Having a baby is hard. Life is hard. I promise you that you won’t regret asking for help.
- Connecting with those that feed your soul. I struggle with this a lot. Just last week I went to visit my oldest friend (who just had her 3rd baby girl and is KILLING IT by the way). We don’t get to see each other often enough even though we don’t live far apart. Every time we do, we send the other a text afterward saying how good it felt, how much we needed it, and how heard we feel in their presence. It is just good for the soul. I wish we could do it once a week but…life.
- Let go of those who do not…On the flip-side, I have struggled with letting go of friendships that drain me or do not better me or make me feel good. Maybe it is because I haven’t done the proper work in those friendships, maybe it is something else entirely, but I know that with baby number 2 fast approaching my life won’t be able to handle these types of relationships. If after you meet up with someone you feel mentally exhausted—let them go.
- Asking for what you need and then ACCEPTING IT. I put the last part in caps, so maybe I’ll hear myself. I’m notorious for thinking the people I love can read my mind. I’m empathetic to a fault, and I’m continually assessing the emotions and feelings of my loved ones. I tend to forget that not everyone can, which leads me to be frustrated when I’m telepathically sending out the “I need help” signal, and nobody responds. My husband likes list. Make that man a list and he knocks it out immediately. Put it in order of importance because that is how his brain works. I hate this, but I’m trying to come around. Why? He wants to help me and running myself into the ground trying to do it all doesn’t really help anyone. Speak up. Ask for what you need. I guarantee you have people in your life that not only didn’t know you needed it but genuinely want to give it.
- Take a bath. Drink that wine. Spend 20 minutes putting on face cream. Then, take a cute Instagram and watch the likes roll in. Sometimes we need a little bit of that too! 🙂