the importance of self-care
I touched upon the importance of self-care in my post about surviving motherhood. Self-care is the new buzz word nowadays. With the stress of the pandemic, taking time for our health and stress management is more essential than ever.
What is self-care? Self-care means different things to different people, but essentially it is doing things that support your well-being. Some things might make you happy in the moment (such as eating a box of chocolates of ordering some expensive shoes online); self-care makes you feel good in the long haul.
As I mentioned in my post about self-love, many of us (myself included) feel guilty when we do things for ourselves. However, I have learned that self-care is anything but selfish. It is impossible to pour from an empty cup. If time is not designated for caring for yourself and your well-being, you aren’t in a position to be the best version of yourself. You will feel emotionally and physically drained, overwhelmed, and stressed. A few minutes a day of time dedicated to yourself does wonders for your well-being.
There are many different types of self-care out there and deciding what you need to take care of yourself is different for everyone. The most important thing I can stress is that whatever form of self-care you choose (and it can vary daily), you must stick with it. Incorporate it into your daily routine to ensure that you allocate time for your health and stress management.
TIPS AND STRATEGIES
Here are some examples of self-care:
1- Exercise– although I hate doing it in the moment, I always feel better about myself afterwards. I designate 4-5 days a week for about 15 minutes each time to do Pilates from the comfort of my own home. My daughter sometimes does it with me, as I feel it is important to teach her how essential it is to take care of your health. I often do this with my husband as well to motivate and encourage one another. You can run, do yoga, go to a gym, or do any type of physical activity. Caring for your physical health translates into improving your mental health as well.
2- Sleep– I vaguely remember what it felt like to get a good night’s sleep before I became a mom. Seriously though, sleep is essential for your physical and mental health. Try to implement a time that is realistic for you to go to sleep nightly, and make sure you follow through. There’s nothing like waking up from a restful sleep. I have several suggestions for improving your quality of sleep and your child’s here.
3- Journaling– I started incorporating 10 minutes a day to writing. Getting my thoughts and feelings onto paper is very therapeutic, and it is a great form of self-care. It also helps me to dig into some of the emotions I’m feeling and figure out the thoughts/story I am telling myself regarding those feelings. Sometimes it takes writing things down to see the false beliefs I am telling myself.
4- Breathing– There are many types of breathing exercises that are meant to calm the mind and the body. Here are a few:
- 4-7-8: Inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds.
- Deep belly breathing: Inhale while filling your stomach with air and then let the air leave your stomach while you exhale. You can do this while doing the 4-7-8.
- Tensing and releasing your body from head to her toes: Inhale while tensing/squeezing the body part, hold it for 8 seconds, and then exhale while relaxing/releasing the body part. I start with my feet, working my way upward to my calves, thighs, pelvis, stomach, chest/neck area, arms and hands, and face. At the end I tense everything at the same time, hold, and release. This is a favorite of mine for stress management, and one which I do daily.
- Taking an inhale and then exhaling for as long as she can while vibrating your lips to make a “wwww” or “ommm” sound. According to Neurosculpting Instititue, “The researchers found that the vibrations from ‘OM’ chanting stimulate the vagus nerve, which then sends out neurotransmitters and electrical signals that reduce activity to key areas of the brain like the amygdala, associated with our flight/fight/freeze response. In addition, the increased oxygenation of the blood from the vibration facilitates feelings of relaxation and release in the muscles and structure of the body.”
5- Meditation– there are several YouTube videos on how to meditate, but there is no right or wrong way. I meditate by repeating a phrase in my head while closing my eyes and concentrating on my breathing.
6- Reading– If you read my woman behind the blog article, you know that I am an avid reader. Curling up on the couch with a great book is priceless. Some people choose to read self-help books as a form of self-care, but any type of reading is helpful.
7- Coloring– Some people find coloring to be very soothing as it shuts off the noise in your mind as you focus on coloring. Coloring isn’t only for children. There are a number of adult coloring books that you can buy.
8- Go outside! The outdoors is very therapeutic for many people. Take a short walk, sit outside and look at nature, or take a hike.
9- Dancing– I find that dancing to a catchy song instantly puts me in a good mood. If dancing isn’t your thing, try singing! Anything that helps you let loose is great for you.
10- Taking a bath– soaking in a tub while playing soft music can be incredibly relaxing.
Remember that self-care isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of thing! The best part of self-care is that there is no wrong way to do it. Like anything new, it takes time to become the norm, so make sure you hold yourself accountable!
To further guide you along your self-care journey, I created self-care printables. To access them, click here.
My hope is that this article (along with the printables) will give you the push you need to prioritize self-care. Life can be stressful, and we need to give ourselves the love and care that we give to others. Take the time to focus on your well-being and see how your quality of life improves!
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