You’ve probably heard the phrase “self-care” used a lot recently- it’s a pretty popular buzzword.
If self-care is just taking care of yourself, it seems pretty straight-forward. Why does “self-care” matter, what does it really mean, and how do we put self-care into practice?
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What Is Self-Care?
The idea of self-care is to help us find better balance in our lives, cope with stress, and keep our priorities in order.
Doing all the things in life has become the norm, and now we’re stuck on a hamster wheel trying to keep up!
Self-care is more than just making sure your body gets enough to keep going. (Like the last bites of your child’s leftover cereal that you ate for breakfast instead of having a real breakfast for yourself!)
And it’s not some kind of indulgence that you have to be deserving of in order to get it.
The definition of self-care is basically being as good to yourself as you would to someone you care about. Why shouldn’t you be as good to yourself as you are to your children?
Why Does Self-Care Matter?
I’m horrible at taking care of myself. I used to think it was due to laziness, but I realized I’m just overwhelmed and lost track of my priorities. Can you identify?
As a mom, you strive to give your kids the best of everything in life. You teach them to eat healthy, get enough rest, encourage them to exercise, learn new things, and have fun!
You probably also teach them (or will teach them) about having boundaries, thinking positively, asking for help when they need it, sticking up for themselves, and how to have a healthy body image and self-esteem.
Are you also making sure you follow these things for yourself- or are you draining yourself dry?
Self-care matters because YOU matter!
Taking care of yourself benefits you and others- it’s necessary. What kind of life is it if you’re always running on empty?
It’s not selfish and it’s not a luxury. You can’t give others the best of yourself if you have nothing to give.
Also, caring for yourself doesn’t have to mean you don’t care about others, so you shouldn’t feel guilty for it. (Even though you still might!)
It Sets a Good Example
We tend to glorify the moms who seem to be able to do everything and handle everything at once, all on their own. While that’s commendable, it’s not very realistic.
As a parent, it’s good for your children to see you set and keep personal boundaries, and make time for yourself.
They are looking to you as an example of how to manage stressors, and live a healthy, happy, functional life. (No pressure, right? Ha!) Your example is what they think the norm is.
It’s also encouraging to other moms who are struggling with self-care for whatever reason (many of us!). Maybe your mom friend needs to hear your struggle and success to help convince her that it’s possible. And that yes, it’s necessary to take care of herself!
Related Post: How to Make New Mom Friends [When You’re an Introvert]
Simple Ideas for Self-Care
So what’s considered self-care? People have different ideas of what self-care means to them since we’re all different.
You may enjoy going on a hike to feel rejuvenated, while I would rather just not do that, lol!
Basic Self-Care Ideas
On days when you just aren’t “feeling it” or your mental health is taking a hit:
- Drink some water.
- Brush your hair and/or teeth.
- Eat (don’t skip meals). Try to eat something healthy if possible.
- Do skip out on social media and news reports.
- Listen to your favorite song.
- Think of three things you’re thankful for or that make you happy.
- Wipe your face and neck with a washcloth, or take a shower or bath.
- If you take any regular medications, take them on time.
- Get some fresh air.
- Think about something you’re looking forward to.
- Sleep or nap.
- Read inspiring or motivational quotes.
- Make your bed.
- Ask for help! Don’t ever be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Even if you think you can do it all, WHY do you have to?
These days are difficult to get through sometimes, but celebrate your small wins and be proud of whatever you were able to do.
On days that you’re struggling, sometimes getting out of bed is the biggest win. And that’s OK!
General Ideas for Self-Care
General ideas for self-care activities on a more daily basis:
1. Say no.
When you don’t have the time, energy, inclination, or whatever the reason is, say no to that thing that doesn’t really need to be done by you.
Or to that event that you really don’t have to attend– don’t let guilt talk you into it!
I’m not talking about a boot camp (although those can be good too!), just try to move some everyday.
Stretch in bed before you get up, walk around your office building once at lunch, or do yoga (there’s even chair yoga and laughter yoga– yes, it’s a thing, watch the video below).
Sign up for a class you’ve never tried before, dance to your favorite song, or do whatever makes you feel good. You only have one body- so take care of it!
3. Rest and relax.
Take a nap, go to bed 15 minutes earlier, meditate, start a gratitude journal, do breathing exercises, color, watch fish swimming, spend quiet time by yourself, get a massage (what about a water massage or chair massage?), try a salt float or soak in the tub.
Do what helps you to relax and recharge.
4. Do something fun that doesn’t involve a screen.
What are your hobbies that you haven’t had time for, or ones that you’d like to try?
Read a book, listen to an audio book (try Audible free for 30 days!), do a puzzle or a crossword puzzle book (there are some fun ones out there!), enjoy being outside or in nature- walk around the block, visit a park, play a recreational sport, do some gardening, take a class somewhere, visit the library (check out their classes too), do a craft or DIY project, draw (try a Zentangle) or paint, do some creative writing, or whatever stimulates your mind and brings you enjoyment.
(Side note- I really want to try one of these paint by number kits, they look amazing!)
5. Do something fun that does involve a screen.
Go to the movies, watch a favorite show or that new show you’ve wanted to watch, play a game on your phone, play video games, read fanfiction, watch funny YouTube videos, a TEDTalk, take an online class, use a self-care app to help you be more mindful, or do something else that sounds fun to you.
6. Spend time with family and friends.
Do something together- play a board game or video game, go on a walk, swim or bike ride, make a fun dinner, volunteer somewhere, go to the park, arboretum, or a museum.
You could also visit, call or write to a family/friend who you haven’t seen in awhile.
Related Post: 11 Immediate & Easy Ways to Relieve Stress
7. Do something to make your life easier or do something that you’ve been meaning to do.
Is there something you haven’t had time for that you’ve been meaning to do, or take care of? It could be something fun, or something that’s a source of stress that you just haven’t wanted to address?
Make a list of those things and start with the “easiest” ones. Maybe a few papers that need to be sorted, emails responded to, something that needs to be dropped off at the post office, or adding some reminders to your calendar and to-do list to help you be more productive. Set those as goals and accomplish them!
Then tackle the harder things like creating a new morning or evening routine, having that hard conversation you’ve been putting off, or calling to make that doctor’s appointment (it’s just SO.HARD. to make a call sometimes, it really is!).
How to Get Started Taking Better Care of Yourself
You might be wondering where on earth you can find time for one more thing on your list?
Self-care shouldn’t be hard, but it does have to be intentional if you aren’t used to doing it. Here are some tips to get your self-care routine started.
1. Chose something that’s simple and easy.
If you start out with a craft project or a soak in the tub every night, it might take a while to gather supplies, find something to keep the kids busy, or whatever else you need to do to make these things a reality.
Quick self-care ideas include stretching, doing breathing exercises, cuddling with your pet, closing your eyes and thinking of something peaceful, watching a short video, reading a short devotional, listening to your favorite song, or writing in a gratitude journal.
If you get off track, don’t worry about it, just try to work it into your schedule later in the day or try again the next day.
2. Pick a time in your day that’s the most convenient.
For example, take 5 minutes after you wake up to stretch while you’re still in bed, or go for a walk on your lunch break.
3. Add it to your calendar, then set a reminder, and an alarm if you need one!
If you live off of a calendar, add self-care to it! Start with 5 minutes. While at first it might be hard to add in something everyday, aim for a couple of times a week, then increase it later.
Add in another self-care technique to your day, maybe one in the morning and one at night. Create a routine for yourself that helps you feel more balanced.
Adjust As Needed
During stressful and busy times, you may need to change up your self-care routine to address the extra stress you experience. Don’t let it become the new norm for you.
Be kind to yourself- you’re worth it!
Take The 4 Week Self-Care Challenge
To help create your self-care routine, use this free printable 4 Week Self-Care Challenge Chart!
- Pick one self-care practice and do it for a week.
- Each week add another, until you get to four a day. If you don’t know what to pick, remember to start small by using the easy, quick ideas above.
- After four weeks, take a look at the routine you’ve created and decide if you feel more balanced. Do you want to continue the same routine, mix it up a bit, or add more?
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