Being a mum goes hand in hand with putting others before yourself. Parenthood changes everything. You can no longer do exactly what you want when you want to do it because there are others who rely on you. This is all fine, of course, and is completely natural. But there are times when it’s necessary to put yourself first. After all, if you’re not healthy and happy, you’re not going to be effective in caring for others.
The concept of self-care means taking care of your own needs. It means making time to focus on yourself for a while and do the things that are necessary to keep you well and happy. It is necessary for optimum health and your overall sense of wellbeing.
What Happens If You Don’t Practise Self-Care?
If you fail to take some time for yourself once in a while, it’s likely you’ll burn out. You’ll feel ill, frustrated, irritable, and unhappy. It may also lead to physical illness. And if you’re ill, you won’t be able to take care of anyone.
Little And Often
The difficulty, when you’re a parent, is finding time to practise self-care. What with the morning routines, preparing the kids for school, work, meals, housework, etc., there’s little time left for anything other than sleep. The trick is to take a ‘little and often’ approach. Each day carve out a short period of time just for you; even if it’s just for twenty minutes. It could be when you first arrive home from work, or at some point in the evening. Let the rest of your family know that you’re taking a little time and you won’t be available to them for the next however many minutes. If you know that you have this time to look forward to, it makes the rest of your busy day a little easier.
Types Of self-care
Self-care isn’t just about practising yoga and meditation, though this works for a lot of people. It’s about doing the things that support, sustain, and nourish you. This will vary from person to person. The following are common examples:
1. Taking A Bath
Water is naturally soothing and has been used in therapy and health for thousands of years. The water and heat help you to unwind and relax, gently easing away aches, pains, and stresses. Throw in some Epsom Salts for added impact.
2. Pamper Night
If you have the time, you can extend your hot bath into a full night of pampering. This can include some or all of the following:
* Soothing your tired, aching feet with a range of treatments
* Spending time on your nails and toenails and applying your favourite nail polish
* Face and body masks
* A gentle steam treatment for your skin
* Applying a conditioning treatment to your hair
3. Concentrating On Your Physical Appearance
If you rarely have time to get your hair cut or to try some new makeup techniques, set aside an evening or a couple of hours to do this. Looking and feeling your best sometimes go hand in hand and so it pays to spend a little time on your appearance. Try out some new hairstyles. Take out your straighteners, heated rollers or electric hair straightening brush. Watch some online tutorials and experiment with different styles and looks.
If your makeup is a little old, invest in some new items. Makeup doesn’t last forever, and over time it can attract bacteria. So keep it fresh and new. This is a great excuse to try some different colours and products.
For many people, getting lost in a good book is a welcome form of escapism. For the duration of the book, they can divert their attention from the stresses and strains of everyday life and enjoy being part of someone else’s life or another world. Audiobooks are also a great way to relax. You can sit back while someone else tells you a story.
There’s something about being in nature that helps clear your mind and helps you feel more focused. You don’t have to go anywhere special. Just fifteen or twenty minutes with your iPod and the fresh air is all it takes.
Some people use exercise as a form of self-care. It gets their blood pumping and heart racing. You don’t have to go to the gym if that’s not your thing. Find a physical activity that’s right for you, whether it’s running, cycling, tennis, etc. Some people find that low-impact exercise such as swimming helps them to relax and wind down.
Gardening not only gives you a good workout but it can help with aches, pains, and anxiety. Because it tends to last for a few hours, a gardening session can burn off more calories than going to the gym. If it’s a sunny day, you will also get a good dose of Vitamin D, and the close proximity to nature has a positive impact on the mind, helping ease stress and worry.
8. Meditation, Yoga, And Tai Chi
Forms of meditation, yoga and tai chi often go hand in hand with self-care, and there is a good reason. People who practise these activities report feeling calmer, less stressed, and generally happier. Much research has been done on this topic, and results show that exercising your mind has many physical and mental benefits.
9. Keeping A Gratitude Diary
Keeping a gratitude diary is much easier than it sounds. It doesn’t require you to write pages and pages. Many people do this each day, by simply recording three things they’re grateful for. Over time, it has been shown to increase positivity and refocus the mind. The idea is that no matter how busy or stressful your life is, there are lots of good things that are often forgotten or taken for granted. Focusing on these things helps to reset the mind and ease some of your worries.
It may be that you’re already practising self-care without even knowing it. What steps do you take to look after yourself and maximise your health and wellbeing?
Midlife mum from Cardiff. Wine Imbiber. Likes glitter, fluff and olives. Approaching tweendom with Caitlin (11) and Ieuan (10). The husband is hiding in the loft.
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