Self-Care: Secure your own mask first

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I never recognized the value of self-care until I had a child. Before I had my son, I exercised for an hour daily 6 days a week, I got my hair done every 8 weeks, I got a pedicure every 6-8 weeks, I visited with friends 1-2 times a week, I read for pleasure and for work daily, and I saw my doctor and dentist routinely.

Then I had my son.

In the fourth trimester, I stopped doing everything. I believed that self-care was selfish. While on maternity leave, I spent every waking hour working for my son and my husband. I quickly began to suffer from burnout and compassion fatigue.

I had a hard time being present daily.

I became frustrated with the small things.

I was exhausted and felt unhealthy.

I know I am not alone in this. We all have a tendency to let self-care go once we start a family. There is this palpable pressure (I am not sure where it comes from) to be everything for everyone. This is virtually impossible when we do not allow ourselves time to reset and recharge. I know that when I have not had some time for self-care I become short with my husband and my son. I am not at my best, and I am unable to be fully present in the lives of my family and my patients.

So mamas, let’s address self-care, and call out three simple rules.

Three rules of self-care:

  1. Self-care can means different things to different women. It involves taking care of your mind, body and spirit. When I am centered in all three I feel I am at my best and can be fully present.
  2. Self-care activities must be planned. You can’t wait for them to happen. Setting aside at least 30 minutes a day to complete a self-care activity is ideal, but we all know that life is not always ideal. Although, we should all strive for at least 30 minutes a day, 30 minutes a day, two to three days a week will help.
  3. It should be something that is not only good for you but you also enjoy doing. So, the activities should be just as unique as you. What works for you may not be as relaxing or important to someone else.

Here are some ideas for self-care on a time budget.

Exercise –

physical activity is good for your body and your mind. Find an activity you enjoy. Walking, running, swimming or exercise classes are all great options. You can also use this time to hangout with friends.

Journaling –

putting thoughts on paper allows you to unload and reorient.

Reading –

allows your mind to escape and wander.

A warm bath –

set the mood with some candles, and bath salts.

Pedicure –

at home or at a salon. Invite your friends to share.

Massages –

great stress reliever.

Facials –

glowing skin is always at a premium when you are permanently exhausted.

A nap –

don’t underestimate the power of sleep to recharge you.

Listen to music –

music stimulates the creative side of the brain and like reading allows the mind to escape and wander.

Yoga or meditation –

quieting your mind can relieve stress and help you to re-center your mind. If you don’t have the time or cash to go to a studio, then try you-tube at home.

 

I have found in my two short years of being a mom that it is impossible for you to fill another cup when your cup is empty. Over the past year I have started to add more and more activities of self-care into my week. I feel so much more like me! I feel healthy and happy. I hope that you can find a self-care routine that works for you.  It is worth the effort.

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