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When you are a busy mom, self-care can feel like an unrealistic splurge reserved only for those who can afford a nanny! I felt like that for several years as a homeschool mom, but being a martyr and feeling like the house can’t run without you is a sure way to burn out.
What is Self-Care?
‘Self-Care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.) socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication.’
Many facets of who we are as humans are touched on with this definition, but I would add the areas of spiritual, emotional and mental health as well.
Mama, here is the important thing: some form of caring for yourself needs to be done every day! The mistake most moms make is that they picture going for a lavish spa day. These luxuries are wonderful every once in awhile, but this obviously isn’t realistic day to day! Simple activities that prioritize your mental and physical health is what to strive for.
What Self-Care is NOT
If your idea of self-care involves binge watching your favorite show with a bag of Doritos, we need to redefine what can actually bring you nourishment! Some examples of unhealthy activities that can disguise as self-care:
- Binge eating, especially bad for you foods
- Activities that lead to overspending or being outside the family budget
- Numbing negative feelings with food or alcohol
- Filling your schedule to the brim in the name of “serving”
- Filling your time with mindless activities like scrolling on social media
Why We All Need Self-Care
Did you know that 80% of doctors visits are related to stress? Stress can lead to short-term issues like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and gut issues like diarrhea. But the more serious issues linked to stress are things like high blood pressure, heart disease, and chronic inflammation. Moms understand all too well the stressful areas in life: running kids to activities, playing referee for squabbles among kids, trying to get healthy meals on the table, not to mention if you work outside the home or are a homeschool mom. In all the busyness, we can’t forget ourselves, Mama.
We’ve all heard the analogy that we can’t pour into another person’s cup unless our own cup is full. I also like thinking of how on an airplane, if the oxygen masks drop in an emergency, what are we to do first? Place the mask on ourselves, and THEN we are able to help others. If we’re passed out in a corner (some days feel like that!), we aren’t going to be the best moms we can be for our kids.
Showing that we place value on caring for ourselves is also a great lesson for our kids to learn. Taking the time to prepare a healthy meal not only demonstrates love to your family, but also shows we desire to care for our temples so we can feel good. Taking the time to exercise (including fun play with your kids!) allows us to have more energy, sleep better, and have stronger bodies. Spending a few minutes reading the Bible and praying refocuses us on what we are here for and Who we serve.
Part of the “martyr mom” syndrome is the belief that, as Christians, we should serve others and “consider others as more important than ourselves.” Oh so true, and the most beneficial service of my life has been schooling and raising my kids. But somewhere in there, I almost lost myself. I hit bottom. I mean really hit bottom.
We had gone through a very stressful year of moving, building a house, and traveling to China to adopt our daughter. Then I felt the need to be super-mom to this new little person in our house as well as my boys that still needed me. We were homeschooling, I was running a homeschool co-op and was struggling with our new routine. I had to see a functional medicine doctor, heal my (completely fried) adrenal glands, and start a supplement routine. But what I most had to learn was that I was not in control, and I just needed to BE.
Do you even remember the last time you just sat and did NOTHING? Oh Mama, we need that. We need to stop filling every moment of every day and just spinning our wheels. We need to sit in the quiet, alone with our thoughts, even for just a few minutes.
Benefits of Self-Care
- Reduced stress levels- Taking time for ourselves and choosing healthy activities lead to better sleep, clearer thinking, and a more balanced life.
- Better relationships- When you take time to fill up your own tank, you will have the energy and strength to pour into others. You won’t be as frazzled with your husband or kids, or running on a short fuse.
- Increased self-esteem- There is something about taking care of ourselves that can make us hold our heads a little higher! You are meeting your own core needs, and that is something to be proud of!
- Reduced burn out rate- Taking the little breaks will increase satisfaction in whatever jobs you have- wife, mom, daughter, sibling, employee
- Long-term health- Decreased stress leads to decreased chronic disease. A positive and rested outlook literally leads to a longer and fuller life!
Ideas for Self-Care
The idea with realistic, daily self care is that you need to consider your current situation. When my kids were younger and we needed to start school earlier, starting my day with a 10-15 minute quiet time was realistic for me. Now that two of my kids have left home and I have a middle schooler, my morning quiet time is 30-45 minutes. I’m able to take small chunks of time throughout the day. That may not be realistic for you, but find what is! Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
- Take a nap
- Take a walk
- Use some favorite essential oils and just sit and breathe
- Read a book
- Paint your nails
- Practice a hobby
- Snuggle with your pet
- Start a gratitude journal
- Grab coffee with a friend
- Sit in nature/stand barefoot in the grass
- Soak in an epsom salt bath
- Watch a sunset
As you can see, some of these activities only take 5-10 minutes! Choose a few of these to try this week. You’re worth it, Mama.