Two years ago when I was a MOPS Mentor I gave a talk at my MOPS group on the over-done topic of self care, but it had a little bit of a twist to it.
I tend to walk away from the typical self care talk focused on my perceived lack, and whats more, I leave with a list of (even more) hoops to jump through, (and they involve spending lots of money at the nearest day spa).
Not so here. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love a good day spa visit, but 1. I don’t always have the cash to put to that, and 2. There is so much more to self care then a manicure, which some of you will be happy to hear if manicures aren’t your thing!
Read on for some gentle ideas on self care. But firstly, the definition:
Self care is the practice of treating yourself with enough respect that you honour and fulfill your own needs as they arise. It is the foundation of learning how to be madly in love with everything that you are.
The true currency of self-care (and love) isn’t money – it’s time, compassion, attention and intention.
We all have times in our lives when we just have too much stuff going on, and with 8 Fridays until Christmas (yep, sorry!) I’m betting that you are feeling the pressure of that on top of everything you already do on a daily basis.
For MOPS Mums it’s the everyday activities of babies, toddlers, sleep deprivation, toilet training, and the busyness of young family life, not to mention marriage and other relationships. Often it seems there are just too many priorities to juggle. And when everything is going wrong, the world is screaming for your attention and you just don’t have time – the last thing you need to hear is to “just take a day off”.
Here are some gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re pressed for time and energy.
NOTE: This is not a to do list for you, these are just suggestions. You may like to take some ideas from this list and adopt a few as your own.
When pressed for time and energy:
Say no to anything that is not important to YOU right now. Whether that’s dusting the house, having a pinterest worthy pantry, or overbearing girlfriends – this is not the time to be nice and “responsible”. Give yourself permission to focus only on what’s important. Getting the unessential responsibilities off your schedule will create extra time and space, and lighten the load.
Incorporate some fresh air into your day. Go for a walk or opt for a stretching work out on dvd. Your body will thank you and it clears your head so you can focus on important things. Even ten minutes of stretching is better than nothing and will recharge your batteries and your mind.
Ask for help/accept offers of help It makes other people feel useful and important. Help with physical activities is great but having someone who can help you with feedback, motivation and support regarding the important work of Motherhood that you are carrying out each day – is not to be underestimated.
To help boost your health during a busy season, take a good quality multivitamin with your breakfast.
Try tea, instead of coffee when you need a caffeine boost. Tea is hot and comforting and, especially the herbal kind, won’t leave you dehydrated or shaky. Try cold water instead. Cold water will help wake you up.
Single-task. Now is not the time to play superwoman. Be nice to yourself and let your brain tackle one task at a time. This is more productive in the long run…
Delegate as much as you can to lighten your load. Communicate with your husband about what needs to be done and together work out fairly who will do what. Give your children age appropriate chores to do; this will help them, and you.
Limit your media consumption … because your brain can only process a limited amount of information. You need your focus to be on your children, or cooking dinner, or taking some time out, or spending time with your husband, so don’t overflow your brain with media. Consider turning wi-fi and mobile data off on your device and putting it in another room on silent.
Have a go-to plan for when things don’t go to plan. If everything goes wrong and you’re just plain exhausted –what do you do? Planning this in advance is self-care on a high level. Have a meal in the freezer for a night like this.
Worry can be a nasty side-effect of a busy life season. If you find yourself worrying a lot, write a daily worry-list. Whenever you catch a worrying thought, write it down and save it for later. Spend 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening worrying about whatever you put on your list. It may sound simple but postponing your worry will actually make it less worrying whenever you sit down and actually think about it in peace and quiet.
Write a daily gratitude list. This is really helpful to shift your focus and help you appreciate your situation. It doesn’t have to be long; a few sentences will do. If you keep a gratitude journal, you can also look back on your previous entries whenever you need a little boost of happiness and motivation.
There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for and, if you find yourself thinking that there isn’t, call a trusted friend, or your MOPS Mentor, and tell them.
Keep track of your achievements. It may seem like you’re never going to NOT be this busy, which is why keeping a record of things you’ve actually been able to achieve is a great way to keep motivated. An easy way to do this is to write all your to do lists in an empty exercise book and tick things off as you have completed them. You will be able to look back and remind yourself of all the things you actually got done, no matter how insignificant they may seem – homemaking, cooking dinner for the family, reading to the children – these may not seem like big achievements but they ARE important and good for you and your family.
Take one day COMPLETELY off each week. Allow me to explain!
If you’re under constant pressure over an extended period of time, it’s good practice to keep the principle of one day off in seven. This means no unnecessary work on this day. This will take some preparation, but its worth it. Prepare in the days leading up so that starting the night before, you don’t need to do any washing, cooking or cleaning and can take it easy, eat pre-cooked food or bought food, take some time to sit on the couch and read or just hang out with your kids, just no unnecessary work that day. Your body will thank you for it, and in turn your marriage and family will function better also.
Self care is a practice, not a destination. Think about how you would treat someone you love, respect, and care about – and treat yourself the same way.
As the well known quote says, “One day, or day one? You decide”.
Let me know how you go!