By Stephanie Dickerson, MEd, LPC
Okay- I know seeing “self-care” can lead to a little bit of an eye roll for us moms out there. We are encouraged by partners, doctors, social media platforms and many others to “take care of ourselves”. If you’re anything like me, that can feel a little irritating as it can feel impossible to do. We can struggle with finding time to take care of ourselves with busy schedules and the needs of the family. And even if we could find the time, what can we possibly do that will truly help refill our bucket? The reality is that it’s a challenge. Good thing moms are professional challenge facers! Moms are superheroes after all, right? So, for Mother’s Day this week, what if you tried to meet this challenge with me? We can do it together.
First of all, remember that self-care also helps those around us. We are likely to ditch the activity if it feels wholly selfish and we have too many things to take care of in the house or for our family or work. The reality is, however, that we are more likely to become frustrated, distracted, or be less productive in our activities if we are worn out and tired physically or mentally. You help your family by helping yourself! Try to think of it as another resource to support the well-being of your loved ones if you have a hard time making it a priority for yourself only.
Here are 5 tips to get you started with self-care (I saw that eye roll!)
- Start small. If we think self-care must be a two-hour long outing, we are much more likely to skip it altogether. What could you do with 2 minutes? 5 minutes? If you’re still not sure, that’s ok! Here are a few ideas.
- Practice basic mindfulness. Pay attention to something on purpose in the present moment, without judgment. You can get started with just using your senses while you drink your water, coffee, or tea. I know I’m guilty of drinking a coffee all throughout the day and not really noticing the flavor as I jump from activity to activity. What if you tried noticing all of the flavors in your favorite drink? You could also take a short walk or sit outside on a nice Spring morning with that drink you’re trying to pay attention to!
- Try putting on some lotion. Just spending some basic time being kind to your body can be important as you spend much of your waking time taking care of others (I see you, momma).
- Practice affirmations. Affirmations are positive statements used to encourage you and challenge unhelpful negative thoughts. They can be motivating and can boost self-esteem! At first, they may feel uncomfortable because you may not be used to saying such positive and kind things to yourself, but as a regular part of your self-care routine, they can have a large impact on your thinking habits.
- Practice regularly. The more consistent you are with scheduling small or extended self-care activities (such as a weekly or monthly date night or a lunch with a friend), the easier it may become for you to remember and accomplish. You may also find you are less likely to feel guilty for taking that time for yourself if that is something that you experience traditionally. If you have some trouble being consistent at first, try not to bully yourself about it! That will often only lead to giving up on the practice altogether. Congratulate yourself for noticing the gap in self-care time and encourage yourself to try again. If you are someone who benefits from having accountability, find a loved one to talk to about your goal and they may be an added support!
If you decide you might benefit from some more formal mindfulness skills or would like to meet with a therapist to help support you as you continue working on your self-care needs, please check out one of our courses or groups or contact our administration team to get connected with a therapist today.