I read an article recently discussing how the push for mom’s to focus on self-care is kind of a myth. The general point that I got from the article was a call for our society to start caring about mothers and the literal and emotional loads that they deal with daily. I couldn’t agree with this more and I think we should all go to bat to change big things in our society for mothers.
Looking back on my own childhood my mother didn’t have much self-care. She lived for her family and always put us above herself. I talked with her recently about how the toll this took on her when she had issues with her mental health when I was in high school and how she has healed and what has helped her most. It is true that self-care won’t fix everything, a nice bubble bath won’t fix anxiety or demons you’ve been dealing with since childhood, but certain types of self care can have a powerful impact on your life.
Learn the Happy Hormones
The three big happy hormones (serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine) can have a powerful impact on your life. Learning about them and the role they play in your life can help you find ways to be happy. There are many articles and some great work by Simon Sineck about them.
The reality is we don’t all have time to have a personal trainer or go to the gym five times a week. But nearly all of us can go for a walk or find a workout on youtube to do from the living room. Getting active and exercising is scientifically proven to help your mood.
A lot of time we can feel bogged down and just overwhelmed with so much that just happens throughout the day but we can do small things to make this easier. If dinner every night is your biggest stressor, meal plan once a week or buy pre-made chicken or pre-cut veggies to make it simpler. If clutter is getting overwhelming (my hand is raised here) get some baskets (or wrap diaper boxes in a simple paper for a hack) and organize a bit. You’d be surprised how less stressful it is opening your pantry after this. By taking an active role in things causing you stress you feel accomplished and reap the benefits.
Share Your Story
Find some core people and love them hard. This one is so important because connection can be so beneficial, but it can also bite you in the ass. Be choosy about who you open up to. Sharing your mom guilt with someone who isn’t going to help, or worse give you shame for it, will just make you feel worse. Brené Brown says “you share with people who earn the right to hear your story.” Maybe it is your spouse, your best friend, or someone completely new, but they are out there and worth the trouble to find.
Ask for Help
This can be as simple as asking your partner for help but it can also be more. The hard reality is that if you are battling mental health issues something like exercising may not be enough. Getting professional help can be the most powerful thing you do for self-care as a mother or in your life. When I admitted that my mental health was not getting any better four months after an extremely traumatic birth experience I took the biggest step of my life in self-care. After a year with a therapist, I am finally taking steps towards healing and being better for my children, my husband, and myself.