By Dawna Matthews:
Every day, we wake up with our laundry list of things to accomplish — it’s exhausting. We are busy and often feel a heavy weight of responsibility to be a “good” mom, parent, care provider, and woman. We love our child/children, family and friends. We are often caregivers and support providers for many people but neglect our own self care because we always think we will get to it later. I will go to a yoga class tomorrow, I will have coffee with my friends next week, I will start knitting again next month — and then we just don’t get to it. We put the needs of our family before ours because we are nurturers. But when we routinely place ourselves second (or even third), this starts to grow into feelings of resentment, of being overwhelmed, and of frustration. It is a beautiful thing to be of service to others and mother them, but not when it starts depleting our happiness, wellness and health. How do we avoid draining our energy and putting ourselves last? The answer is simple. Self care. Here are three tools to add more balance and self care to your life so you can care for other people.
- Get Good Quality Sleep: Getting sleep is essential to our health and well-being. Without enough sleep, we are cranky, short-tempered, burnt-out, and not as focused. When we are well rested, we feel calmer, even-tempered, and ready to take on the day. Plan on getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Keep in mind that this amount may change through the seasons, but adequate healthy sleep falls in this range. In order to get your sleep, you must create a bedtime sleep ritual and adhere to it. This will look different for everyone, and there is no wrong or right ritual. For me, this means going to sleep at the same time every night, and approximately an hour before my set bedtime, beginning my sleep routine. I turn off all electronics — television, computer and phone. I allow myself this time to “unplug.” I may take a shower or rub lotion on my feet. I brush my teeth and hair, and try to read a few pages of a book. Then I just go to bed. So, create a nest for yourself and allow yourself to be supported and nurtured as you sleep. Wake up refreshed and rejuvenated and able to mother your children.
- Rise and Shine Early: Many times the last thing we want to do is wake up early or earlier than we already do, but I am telling you this will shift your whole world and make a positive difference in your life. Most moms want more time to themselves, but where do you find it? The morning is the best time to carve out time for yourself. I love the early morning quiet, the silence before the house starts to stir, the whisper of the world waking up, the time to recenter and prepare for my day. This is the time to give a few minutes of care to myself so then I can give to others. The goal is to aim for 30 minutes to an entire hour before everyone else wakes up. If the idea of waking earlier sounds ludicrous to you, try rising just 10 minutes earlier than usual. By getting up early, you gift yourself with a few moments of quiet — something you don’t have much of as a mama — and see how you can use that time in a way that’s meaningful to you. Take a shower, brew some tea, write a letter to a friend, or just sit. While you are having your alone time, just be present to it. Whether it’s five minutes or 30 minutes, tell yourself, “This is my time and it is a gift.” Breathe in the stillness and enjoy the you time you have created.
- Do Less: This is a big one. We all like to think we can multi-task while keeping it together and being focused. The truth is, multi-tasking is impossible because our brain simply switches among tasks and doesn’t get enough time between switching to actually settle and focus. It took me a long time to figure this out and, while I may be capable of switching quite a bit and doing it well, I end up feeling frazzled, forgetful, and as if something is out of sync. I found myself trying to cook breakfast, get dressed, and get everyone ready, all while thinking I was having quality time with my husband and daughter. In reality, it was a mess! Just try to do one thing at a time. We are addicted to being busy and feeling productive, so this may take some practice. I found the easiest time to integrate doing less is when I am cooking. I take just one task at a time and turn it into a single, pointed focus. For example, chopping vegetables . . . don’t think about the things you have to do after dinner and before bedtime, don’t check your email or Facebook . . . just chop the vegetable and then add it to the pot. Add the next layers, one at a time, and enjoy the simplicity and ease. This helps you to feel more focused without frantic energy bouncing all over the place. This is especially helpful if you have energetic kids who can’t seem to calm down. By doing less, you are actually living more in the present moment, which helps you feel calm and at ease. And it helps you to mother mindfully and support your children or family in the way they need.
Now is the time to take better care of your whole self — your body, your mind, and your soul. Take time to nurture and nourish yourself. When you start to implement these three steps, you will see subtle yet powerful changes in your life and the lives of those little loves you touch. When you get good quality sleep, wake up a little earlier, and do less with more mindfulness, you create balance and energy to be present for and attentive to your family and other people in your life while making sure your needs are met. In order to care for others, we must start with ourselves. What have you done to nurture yourself today?
For more tools on self care, comment with details how to reach you or send me an email at: [email protected]