You take care of everyone else. So, why aren't you taking care of yourself as a mother?
I know you know about putting your oxygen mask on first in an airplane. So, why are you putting yours on last? In the end you aren’t helping anyone.
You live in a fast paced world. You are taught that more is better. But, there is a cost. The cost is your physical and emotional health. It’s time to start putting yourself first. Now, don’t misunderstand me. This doesn’t mean fall short on your responsibilities. This means start setting boundaries.
Are you starting to wonder why you are feeling burnt out, and don’t enjoy your family anymore? If you answered yes, then you are definitely in the danger zone. If you don’t change now, you will definitely regret it. You could end up depressed or ridden with anxiety.
Here are 8 tips to help you start taking care of yourself as a mother:
- Spend time with friends and family. These are the people that support you the most. The next time you are feeling stressed out, give one of them a call. Instead of talking about what is stressing you out, talk about what you like. Let them know about the latest podcast you just heard, or about the friendly guy you were talking to in the grocery store line. If you can’t think of anything, then invite them out on a fun adventure. Like, going for a hike or watching a funny movie.
- Get enough sleep. Research has found that more sleep equates to happiness. When you don’t get enough sleep you are more forgetful and irritable. This also affects your work and home life. Set up a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed at a regular time and get up at a regular time. But, try not to stress over the sleep schedule. There will be times that it doesn’t work out, and that is alright.
- Get moving. This means make time to exercise. This is not only good for you physically but it is good for you emotionally. Join a gym and take a class. This is a great way to meet new people. Better yet, hire a personal trainer. This will make a big difference. This will be the best accountability partner you can have.
- Stop feeling guilty. Why do so many parents have a hard time putting themselves first on the list? You take care of everyone else, it’s time to take care of yourself without feeling guilty. Don’t apologize for taking care of yourself or setting boundaries. Your family won’t die if you say no.
- Start your day with mindfulness. I start everyday with 10-15 minutes of mindfulness. This helps me clear my mind and get ready for the day. Before I started this, I’d always wake up worrying about what I had to do that day and if I would have enough time to get it all done. Now, I know it’s alright if I don’t get everything done. There is always tomorrow, and the next day for that matter.
- Schedule time slots when you don’t work. You don’t have to have every time slot on your calendar filled with work. This may make you feel more productive, but you aren’t giving yourself a break. This will definitely lead to burning out in the long run. You can set one up in the morning, the middle of the day and in the evening. You can start small, if you’d like, 5-10 minutes. When you take this time you can’t work or even think about work. Go for a walk or just sit and relax. I started this a while ago, and it has changed my life. I know longer feel fatigued in the middle of the day, and I am actually more productive.
- Take a warm bubble bath. Shut the bathroom door and relax. Leave your cell phone behind. This is a great way for your mind and body to relax. Try this one after everyone has gone to bed. That way you won’t be interrupted. Even if it’s 10 minutes, you will reap the benefits. This will also help you have a good night's sleep.
- Get outside! Now that it is sun is coming out, you have no excuse. Take in the fresh air and sunshine. Get out into nature. The outdoors is great for your mental health. Notice the environment you are in. If you see a pretty flower, stop and look at it. Take a picture, if you’d like. Notice the detail of the bark on the trees, or how the squirrels run up and down them. If there is water around, stop and look at how the sun glistens on the water. You can also ride your bike if you’d like. Just get outside and stop thinking about work and family. This is a great time to embrace the present.
Take it one day at a time. Small steps lead to big steps. Stop fooling yourself, you aren’t Super Woman. These aren’t that difficult, anyone can do them. Once you start, you will begin to feel better. You will notice that your mood will change, and you will start to enjoy your family again.
Lianne Avila is a Marriage & Family Therapist helping people in San Mateo, CA who are looking to create a life that is happier and more fulfilling. Please subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter on www.LessonsforLove.com to learn more about her services and expertise.