Oftentimes, when we are caregivers especially, we can have a tendency to forget our own needs or get too busy to take care of ourselves. When we forget to do this, it can quickly lead to poor health outcomes or burnout.
When you are exhausted and burned out, you are likely living in survival mode. This means, you are just reacting to the circumstances around you, instead of acting with intention. When you are in a reactive state, this can lead to anxiety and stress.
According to Psych Central, when you stop practicing self-care it can lead to the following consequences:
Increased headaches, stomach aches, and other physical symptoms of stress
Difficulty falling and staying asleep
Challenges in choosing healthy food and urges to eat “comfort” foods
Worsening mental health symptoms like depression or anxiety
Strain or distancing in the relationship with your spouse or partner
Less patience with your children
Reduced performance at work
Less motivation to engage in social activities
In order to avoid these negative, and sometimes dire consequences, it is important to learn to make time for self-care in your daily routine. Although it may not be easy at first, it will get you feeling better quickly, so that you can feel more healthy, balanced and fit.
Making time in your schedule
As you probably know, being a mom means that we can often always be on the go during the day. We have kids' activities to plan and take care of, shopping to do, dinner to make, and often work on top of all of that.
Over the years, I have learned that if I get up before the kids, it helps me find time to fit self-care into my day. Typically, I get up half an hour to an hour earlier than my family, so that I have time to do yoga, affirmations, journaling and have some coffee before I dive into the day.
If getting up an hour earlier seems like an impossible task, remember, I didn't get there overnight. It has taken me years to adjust my schedule. When I first started doing yoga, I just got up 15 minutes earlier. I did a 10 minute yoga practice and drank a cup of coffee.
You don't even have to start with 15 minutes if that seems like too much. Start just getting up 5 minutes earlier. Even if all you do is splash water on your face and take a few deep breaths, it will make you feel so much better!
Once you get used to getting up 5 minutes earlier, then you can get up 10 minutes earlier, and you can add more self-care activities little by little.
Balanced Self Care
When you begin to practice self-care, keep in mind that there are different types of self-care.
According to Willowstone Family Services, there are 8 different types of self-care:
Home environment self-care
Work, school, caregiving or other responsibilities
As you first decide to incorporate self-care into your day, you can start with whichever area of your life you feel is most in need, or where you are struggling the most.
You can make a plan of how you are going to use self-care to improve your health. As you do this, just do a little bit at a time. Be slow and gentle with yourself. The point of self-care is to make you feel better, not to add something else to your to-do list that causes more stress.
Don't stress about self-care
When my therapist first told me that I needed to practice more self-care, I thought that I didn't have time. I dreaded every session how she would ask me what I was doing for self-care. I felt resentful that another expectation was being placed on me that I couldn't meet up to.
Eventually, she told me, "setting boundaries with people is self-care." That really was the first time the idea of self-care resonated with me. Telling people "no" to things that aren't serving you can be a form of self-care.
As you learn to say no more often to things that you don't want to do, or don't have the time or mental bandwidth to do, you will have more time in your schedule for the things you DO want to do. It can be buying store-bought cupcakes for the kids' school instead of making them, or telling your mother you need to get off the phone sooner. Whatever is stressing you out, that is the thing you need to think about cutting out.
Self-care shouldn't be an additional cause of stress, it should be something that enriches your life, and something you can look forward to. So remember, make your self-care time something that you really enjoy. Pick something you can do to make yourself feel happy, spoiled and pampered.