After being sick with a terrible cough and fever for 10 days straight (and what felt like forever), I had to learn a hard lesson in self-care. Being a mom, there aren’t really any sick days and the ever impending sense of “mom guilt” doesn’t make it any easier to slow down and take care of myself. I still make a lot of poor choices when it comes to these things but I’ve narrowed down a few ways that makes it easier for me to put myself first and practice some self-care.
Tip #1 – Ask For Help
It’s really hard for me to ask Aaron to stay home from work or come home early or handle pretty much anything else on top of everything he already does for us, but sometimes it’s necessary. I’m not going to feel better – mentally or physically – if I’m feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s not even just because I’m sick. There are days when the stresses of motherhood are just overwhelming. That’s when I reach out to a friend, ask if they want to meet up at the playground or just listen while I vent.
Tip #2 – Eat well & mindfully
The last thing I want to do when I’m not feeling well is spend time in the kitchen or plan ahead. But it is important to take care of my body if I went to feel better. Luckily because I live in NYC, I can get anything delivered at the press of a button. So I usually hit up Juice Press for some serious ginger and citrus concoction to boost my immunity or if I’m emotionally overwhelmed, I can just order dinner for me and the girls (there’s a great Columbian place that makes a rotisserie chicken with vegetables and rice and beans that I love) that is still healthy and pretty cheap but takes the stress of cooking off my plate for that night. If I end up just reaching for junk food or candy, I end up feeling a million times worse. There are also a few great recipes I’ve loved that are total comfort food here.
tip #3 – Get Outside
Fresh air and a change of scenery can do a lot for your mood. Sometimes the house can be suffocating. I remember as my years as a full-time stay at home mom. The house could feel like a prison. So sometimes I had to just get the kids’ shoes on and go out whether it was raining or snowing or hot as hell. And if I’m alone and having a hard day for some other reason, a long walk always clears my head and gives me some perspective on whatever situation I’m facing.
Tip #4 – unplug
This has been the most beneficial tool for me. If I’m having a down day, the last thing I need is to start playing the comparison game with everyone who is sharing their happiest family moments on social media. And trust me, I share a lot of the happy stuff too so I’m not judging. After all, that’s what I want to remember! But what I really need to focus on is my own gratitude for the wonderful things I have in my life and be totally present in the moment. I can’t do that if I’m looking for an escape or for the next thing I need online.
tip #5 – treat yo self!
It’s that simple. Do whatever it is that makes you feel happy. Sometimes I’ll just throw the kids in the bath, put on a face mask and enjoy my 7 minutes of peace and quiet. Or maybe I’ll go get my nails done, go to a yoga class, or spend time doing something that interests me (I’ve been checking out a few cool classes on Skillshare in my free time) to inspire and distract me. Or better yet, I’ll just spend the whole day in bed watching Netflix while the kids are at summer camp and not feel guilty for even a second about it.
Tip #6 – Forgive your self
At the end of the day, a lot of times I have made mistakes. Whether they’re little or big doesn’t matter. What matters is that I need to forgive myself. Have I yelled at the kids and lost my temper when I could have been patient and loving? Yes. Have I forgotten their lunch at school only to realize it at pickup? You bet! Have I just plopped them in front of the TV for a few hours because I’m just run down? More than I like to admit. But I forgive myself for being less than perfect and try and make it up to them the next day. Being kind to myself is the best way to move forward and grow.
I’m not interested in what it is that you do, as long as it releases you from the bondage of guilt, shame, depression or whatever is making you feel less than. It’s been said a million times over and over again, but you have to put your oxygen mask on before helping others. You have to fill your tank before you have anything valuable to give. I’ve learned that I’m just a better mom, wife, friend, etc… when I am taking care of me.
What do you like to do for self-care? I’d love to hear your suggestions!
Photos by Julia Elizabeth for Lucky Penny