I've been on a bit of a self-care kick over the past month. The second Saturday of each month is the free Outside The Mom Box support group for new moms. Each session starts with introductions and then goes in our main topic. We leave about 30 minutes for Q&A, then close. For October, I decided to spend some time on self-care. Here are a few noteworthy snippets from that conversation:
Unsurprisingly, self-care looks different to each of us...and feels very different for moms of a 6 week old than it does for a mom of a 7 month old or a toddler who is almost 2.5. So self-care looks different and it should..for each of us. I define self-care as the act of doing good for ourselves. Self-care really is acts of love for our Authentic Self, the highest version of ourselves that we can be. Not better than anyone else highest but the best we can be.
The good and bad news here is that it's not complicated to add in more self-care to our life: we just need to make it a priority. One way that we do this is by setting better boundaries. Setting better boundaries often involves saying "no" to things. Saying "no" is powerful in its ability to do good but it can be scary. Let's focus on the good. Here are 3 reasons why we need to get better at saying "no":
- ...it frees someone else up to say "yes"! As in "yes, how generous of you."
- ...lessens your anxiety and stress. Almost immediately, actually, which is super cool.
- ...gives you more energy. And who doesn't need more of this?
- ...opens up space for more self-care!
So saying "no" is a good thing on many important levels. So how else do we make self-care a priority?
Ask for and take help that's offered.
I talked about this in last week's blog post here so check that to refresh on why it's crucial we accept, at absolute minimum, the help that is offered.
What about guilt?
Ah, yes, the guilt. We talked about this of course! Guilt: every mom's middle name...or so it seems sometimes. We all feel badly about taking time for ourselves, spending the money, foisting our child/children on a tired partner, etc. I do, you do. Here's something that I learned about the frequent guilt behind self-care: the more you do it, the better you feel and the better you feel, the less guilt you have. So go to the gym. Schedule that massage. Take time away with your friends for the evening. Plan a dinner date with your partner. Accept the coworker's offer to watch your kids and....go watch a movie/get your nails done/go grocery shopping (alone!)/run the errands that are so challenging with kids in tow.
We closed Saturday's group with a few examples of some free self-care: stay hydrated, eat smarter, get outside, keep "better" company, get more sleep.
What self-care do you engage in for yourself? How do you make it happen? Leave a comment.
For Durham area new moms, our next gathering is November 8, 2-4 pm. Once again, we will be at my office at 1200 Broad Street, Suite 104, in Durham. I'm happy that we will have Aimee Vandemark with us to talk "postpartum moods" with us. Aimee is a mom and psychotherapist in private practice in Hillsborough. Learn more about Aimee here.