Self care is such a buzz word at the moment, which isn't a bad thing- its about time something that revolves around stress relief and taking care of yourself is a 'thing.' But sometimes, self care ideas either don't serve us in a positive way, or they are unattainable or unrealistic. And while we all love a good glass of wine and a nice warm bath, not all self care looks like a Pinterest photo. It can take many forms- from recognizing your worth to demanding better to taking a break- it's all important to our overall mental health and wellbeing.
As mamas, self care is incredibly important. So here are ten tips that can have big affects on your wellbeing - a self care plan for the modern mama.
1. Say NO
For whatever reason, women are socialized to be people pleasers. An act of self care is to start training yourself to say no to others in the interest of serving yourself. Bottom line, start making room in your schedule for you, not for others.
2. Go to bed early and on a schedule
Research shows that an early and consistent bedtime and wake time have profound affects on our health. Consistent good sleep habits affect emotional health, problem solving, irritability, productivity, weight, and many other chronic and serious health conditions. The common knowledge is that our circadian rhythms dictate a 10pm-6am window as optimal, but some sleep scientists say genetics plays a big role, as does age. So play around with times and find what works for you.
3. Demand more from your partner.
Like "self care", "emotional labor" or "mental load" are current big buzz words that have gained a lot of traction this year. And with good reason - new research shows it is oh so real and has a measurable affects on women. This one is hard, because it is one of the most important on this list, but that also means it's one of the most difficult to implement or change. The bottom line is that as a mom, you are now taking on significantly more, and these responsibilities (both actual and mental load-type of responsibilities) should be shared as much as possible. Every family is different and dynamics play a huge role but consider some small steps you might be able to take to start sharing this load with your partner in a more equal way. That may mean having some difficult conversations, but this is your health, and sometimes difficult conversations can lead to big changes.
4. TAKE time for yourself.
Ever notice how some people just seem to have boundaries set firmly in place for themselves, they don't seem to be beholden to anyone else's expectations, and they just take time they want or need? Be like them. Unapologetically take time for yourself. Don't ask permission from your partner, don't make sure all your ducks are in a row first, just go and take some time. This might start off with leaving the room for 15 minutes to read a magazine article or something. You shouldn't need permission to take a break. Just freaking take it.
5. Turn off screens an hour before bed.
This goes back to #2. Those blue lights our phones and ipads and TV's emit? They are oh-so-bad for our sleep - not to mention the anxiety created from scrolling through the latest political news on Facebook. Turn screens off an hour before bed to give your brain a chance to chill out before hitting the pillow and do something old fashioned like reading a book. With pages.
6. Exercise for your mood
This means listen to your body, not your exercise calendar. Are you having an extra busy week? Not sleeping great? Fighting a cold? This might not be the best time to go out and do that 5 mile run that's on your calendar. This also depends on where you are in your menstrual cycle. Try using the Flo Living myFlo app to track your periods - this app also tells you how your hormones at different times in your cycle affect exercise.
7. Drink a lot of water
Dehydration is super common, especially for moms who are pulled in a million different directions throughout the day. But it can have real and immediate consequences like fatigue, hunger, and sluggishness. Hydrating throughout the day is key- carry a water bottle (preferably glass or stainless steel) and keep track of how much you are drinking in your Duo Diary to make sure you are getting enough- particularly if you are breastfeeding!
8. Get off Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or your social media drug of choice
There is some research suggesting that social media usage may lead to less happiness and life satisfaction. But you already knew that. So don't bother reading Great Uncle Earl's latest political diatribe or the 'my life is perfect' post from that person from high school you haven't talked to since high school. Cutting out social media is harder than it sounds- the research also suggests that it can show addictive qualities - so try weaning yourself off, or going cold turkey on a 'digital cleanse.'
9. Stand Up For Yourself and Your Health
As mamas, particularly when you are a new mama, you come into contact with LOTS of people who have you and your child's best interest at heart, but whose advice may not really serve you in the best way possible (such as the common "you just had a baby, this is normal" advice). If something doesn't sound right, feel right, or most importantly- resolve your issue or give you an answer- keep demanding more. This goes for any healthcare practitioner you come into contact with after having a baby! They see a ton of people and are overwhelmed, (we can all relate to the 'rushed doctor appointment') so you'll need to demand more if you aren't getting the information you need to be healthy.
The health benefits of journaling are well documented, and a little can go a long way. No, you may no longer have 30 minutes of uninterrupted writing as a mom, but even just jotting down the one nagging thought that's bugging you can help. This is why Duo Diary is designed with a big ol' notes section on the page for mamas- journaling for yourself is part of your health. So grab your Duo Diary and get writing!