Kristen Bowe, APRN, C.N.P.
Let's face it, being a mom is hard. There seems to be an endless list of tasks, errands, housework and kid's activities. This can become even more hectic if you balance a career outside the home. With so much time devoted to caring for one's family and exhaustion setting in, finding time for self-care seems to be the first thing left out of a busy schedule.
Self-care is the practice of caring for one's own health, well-being and happiness. It is an essential component of stress relief and wellness. Making time for yourself may feel indulgent or selfish, but that is far from the truth. Even small acts of self-care or self-kindness can go a long way in decreasing the feelings of exhaustion, burnout, stress and even depression that busy mothers often feel.
Here are some quick tips for implementing self-care:
- Delegate and ask for help.
It's difficult to admit you may need help or can't accomplish everything on your own. An old adage says that it takes a village to care for a family, and this could not be more true. Find your village and ask for help. Accept help when offered. This may result in a few extra prized moments to focus on yourself. Don't be afraid to say no to commitments that don't interest you or you don't have time for.
- Stay organized.
Keep a planner, calendar or list of upcoming appointments and tasks for yourself and family. Avoid stress from the unexpected, such as the school project that your child needs assistance to complete last minute. Prioritize tasks to prevent becoming overwhelmed. Start by completing the most time-consuming or less interesting tasks to get them out of the way first.
- Focus on basic healthy lifestyle habits.
Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Try for some daily physical activity each day, with a goal of 150 minutes total a week. Eat a healthy diet consisting of lean meats, low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid sugary beverages, alcohol and high-fat foods. Drink six to eight cups of water daily.
- Schedule your "me time."
Add a "date" with yourself to your calendar and protect it. For example, schedule a fitness class, lunch with a friend or coffee with a good book. Once the date is scheduled, try your best to keep it just as you would for any other appointment.
The most important components of self-care are to be realistic and purposeful. If your schedule is hectic and chaotic, it may not be realistic to expect hours a week to focus on self-care activities. Start small with attainable expectations. For example, taking 10 minutes a day to focus on deep breathing, meditation or positive affirmations may be all that is realistic at this time. Build on the foundation you have made.
Mom's health and well-being affect the entire family group. By incorporating self-care into your regular routine, you will become an even more amazing caregiver. You've got this, mom.