Taking Care Yourself as Mom
I’ve mentioned before that as a Mom to a busy little man, taking care of myself has been pretty low on my priority list for a while and that this year I’m planning to change that.
Mama… When last did you take care of you?
There was a time in my life that I was much better at taking care of myself, so I’m going to give you some tips today based on what I used to do when this was my focus. Because I learned a lot of great tips and tricks about Self Care back in my Twenties when I was an Aerobics Instructor and a Massage Therapist.
I learnt even more about Self Care when I burnt out as a Massage Therapist and found myself struggling with exhaustion, depression, Sciatica (lower back pain and aching down the legs), Spastic Colon and the most hideous, debilitating migraines. My road to recovery was long but eventually I found answers.
I never want to suffer from burnout or any of these horrible symptoms again. If you’ve ever suffered from burnout or any of these symptoms, you’ll know exactly what I mean. As the year progresses, I plan to incorporate more and more of these Tips back into my own life as well.
Simple Lifestyle Changes
Just a proviso to mention upfront: None of this is intended as Medical Advice or to replace the advice you may be getting from your Doctor.
What I’m going to share with you is really just simple lifestyle changes that I made in my life that helped me enormously. Nothing too radical. I can’t promise you will get the same results that I had, as I don’t know your Medical History and I am not trained to diagnose or treat Medical conditions. I can only speak from my own experience.
Okay? All good with that? Here we go.
Self Care Tip 1: Eat Nutritious Foods
It’s no secret that we are what we eat. And when I was feeling my worst, I was consuming a lot of chocolate and drinking a lot of coffee. These are not poisonous substances by any stretch of the imagination but they became poisonous to my system because of the quantity I consumed over time. And probably some other health factors coming in to play at the same time.
So, for a while, I had to cut anything that contained caffeine out of my diet altogether.
How did I find out I had become intolerant of anything containing caffeine? I consulted a Kinesiologist and a Naturopath. I highly recommend veering off the path of Allopathic Medicine and finding some Alternative Healers if you have a bunch of symptoms that won’t seem to go away and you’d like to find out the root cause rather than just treat each symptom.
At the time, I also did a 2-week fast and a few fruit and veg cleanses and discovered that my body likes fruits and vegetables more than any other food. I felt absolutely fantastic after a few weeks of eating only fruit and veg. Here were the 5 main benefits in a nutshell.
- Free of pain
Here are my…
5 Ways to Eat Nutritiously
1: An Apple a Day…
Eat 90% what God Made and 10% what man-made (or tampered with). So if it’s in a box, bottle or packet rather than in a basket needing to be weighed, if you can’t grow your own in your garden, it’s probably man-made or tampered with.
In other words: Eat Plenty of Fresh Fruit and Veggies (this includes Berries and Nuts) to limit consumption of bread, biscuits, muffins etc.)
2: Find Out What’s Poisoning Your System
Find out if you are allergic or intolerant to anything and if you are:
- eliminate it for a good few weeks or until all nasty symptoms disappear
- then re-introduce, slowly
- and never in the same quantity as before.
3: Eat Frequent Smaller Meals
Eat Frequently and never until you’re overly full (5 to 7 Small Snacks rather than 3 Big Meals) to keep blood sugar and therefore energy levels up. Maintaining even blood sugar levels can mean the difference between whether you are happy and relaxed or depressed and nervous.
4: Drink Plenty of Water
Drink lots of water or herbal tea and eliminate sodas or soft drinks – even fruit juice and diet drinks as they still contain some form of sugar.
5: Eat More Fish
Choose Fish or Poultry over Red Meat or Pork. I find my body works best when I eat plenty of fish rather than heavier, usually fattier steaks. I know this is very controversial advice nowadays with the popular diets that centre around fat, juicy steaks. However, fish oil is incredibly important for the brain.
If you’re not eating fish at least 3 times a week, I would recommend supplementing with Omega 3 Oils. If you’re vegan or vegetarian I’d imagine you already know which foods are richest in Omega 3, but in case you don’t, there’s a great article here.
A Note on Supplementation:
I believe 100% in supplementation, simply because I know most of us don’t have the time or inclination to eat as nutritiously as we should. The supplement that helped me most when I was burning out was a little colloidal liquid called Cellfood by Nu Science Corporation. I got it here in South Africa from a company called Oxygen for Life.
Why it worked for me was because it:
- was readily absorbed by the body
- available at the cellular level
- contains 78 elements and minerals, 34 digestives, 17 amino acids
- contains Deuterium Sulphate which splits water molecules to release Oxygen at the cellular level
I must just mention here that this product is extremely detoxifying. I had a severe headache every day for the first 10 days of taking it but after that, I never suffered from a migraine ever again. Ever. And my spastic colon disappeared too. Along with the lower back pain, depression and exhaustion. After about two weeks on the product, I felt better than I had felt in years. It was life-changing for me.
Self Care Tip 2: Be More Active
I’ve read a number of articles proclaiming that our sedentary lives are becoming the new BIG HEALTH ISSUE. i.e. More life-threatening (and more fattening) than either fat or sugar.
We sit on our bums to get to work and then sit at a desk all day and then come home to sit on the couch and watch the TV, eating our TV-dinner, which we popped into the microwave. I know that sounds like an extreme example, but these are the kind of lifestyle habits that sneak into our everyday life.
And I can see how, as a blogger, sitting at my laptop for hours a day is not doing me any favours. I am fortunate that I’m also a Mom which sometimes requires me to be active, either doing housework or playing with my son. So I’ve started saying YES more often when he asks me to come jump on the trampoline with him. We also go for walks together and now that he’s a bit older we can pick up the pace a bit (sometimes).
Regular Exercise is Key
What I learned when I was training to be an Aerobics Instructor, back in the day, is that for exercise to make a difference to your health and well-being, it needs to be regular (at least 3 times a week to maintain fitness, 4 or 5 times to increase fitness).
Along the way I discovered that the drop-off rate is really high is people aren’t enjoying themselves.
5 Ways to Being More Active
1: Find Exercise that You Enjoy
In modern society, we tend to get stuck on the idea of the Gym as the only place to go to be active and the Gym may not be your cup of tea. But don’t let that stop you exercising.
There are many different activities to do other than working out. And some of them may be more appealing to you than doing a workout indoors along with a bunch of other sweaty bods.
Here are some fun ideas you might want to try that may keep your interest:
- Dancing (e.g. Ballroom, Salsa, Scottish Dancing, Line Dancing)
- Martial Arts (e.g. Karate, Judo, Kung Fu, Tai Chi)
- Beach Volleyball
- Table Tennis
- Ice Skating
2: Shorten the Duration of Exercise
People often avoid exercise because they think it’s going to take too much time out of their day.
All you need to find is 20 to 30 minutes a day.
And it’s been proven that short bursts of exercise where you get your heart rate up can make a difference – even 5 minutes four times a day makes a difference.
You could try these tips to be more active.
- Climb stairs instead of taking the lift whenever you can.
- Step away from your desk every couple of hours or so and skip (with a skipping rope)
- Go for a short brisk walk in your lunch hour
Warning: Don’t try do any of these in high heels, you can stay in your work clothes but good shoes or bare feet are a must.
3: Get out in Nature
Being out in nature is good for the soul. Exercising in nature is good for body, mind and soul.
There are so many amazing outdoorsy activities you can enjoy. Here a few examples:
- Hiking or Mountain Climbing
- Walking on the Beach
- Swimming (in the sea)
- Windsurfing or Kitesurfing
- Stand Up Paddle Boarding
- Jogging or Running
4: Change it up
If you find your interest in any activity is flagging, then it’s time for a change. Try something new every once in a while.
Or do something different every day. Whatever it takes to keep you active.
5: Change Your Mindset
Don’t let exercise start to feel like a chore. If it feels like something you HAVE to do, it becomes something you do grudgingly. Let it flow. Let it become a natural part of your life. Find enjoyment in movement.
Self Care Tip 3: Take Time Out
When last did you take a bit of R & R (Rest and Relaxation)? Read a good book? Or even flip through a magazine?
Emotional wellbeing is essential when you’re a Mom. Because if you’re an emotional wreck, your kids usually are too. And everyone around you for that matter.
Here are my Top 5 Ways you can bring some much-needed balance back to your life.
1: Play Time
It can be so easy to let go of your friendships when you become a Mom. Especially if you have a number of children and your whole afternoon is spent getting them to all their extramural activities.
Take time to nurture your friendships, even if you have to have the kids in tow while you’re doing it. Find things you can do with your friends and your children.
In the same vein, it’s just as important to find time to play with your children. Get down and dirty with them. Climb into the sandpit sometimes or onto the jungle gym. Lie on the floor with them playing cars or dressing up dolls or building blocks. Let them lead the play and you might find you have a blast.
Oh… and while we’re on the subject of down and dirty, your hubby might appreciate some playtime with you too.
2: Down Time
Never underestimate the rejuvenation power of a good nap. Sleep is generally in short supply for Moms, so take naps whenever you can.
And if napping is not your thing, at least find a way to get in 8 hours a night every now and then.
SLEEP is one of the greatest healers I know.
3: Quiet Time
We live in a very noisy world. There is almost always something on, TV, Radio or just the background noise of traffic and chatter. That’s why it’s essential to find spaces and block out time when you can experience stillness.
Find a way to bring meditation or prayer into your life. Learn Transcendental Meditation if needs be. Or learn a breathing technique. Or just breathe.
If you really find it impossible to slow your mind down to that pace, a Yoga class might provide just enough stillness for you. Or you can lose yourself in a book or some classical music, any music that calms and relaxes you. Whatever it takes to quiet your busy mind.
4: Me Time
While we’re busy slowing things down, it’s a good time to discuss chilling out on your own.
Here are some favourite me-time activities that you can consider incorporating into your life.
- Relax in a Bubble Bath
- Go for a Full Body Massage
- Indulge in a Spa Day
- Go for a Facial
- Read a Good Book
- Window Shop
- Say no once in a while
- Get the Giggles
- Lose Yourself in a Craft Activity
- Watch a Funny Video on YouTube
- Walk on the Beach
- Go on a Shopping Spree
- Give Yourself a Home Facial
- Try Wii Fit Yoga
- Walk in the Park
- Exfoliate your Whole Body
- Take up Creative Writing
- List all the Things you are Grateful for
- Dream of Your Ideal Day
- Draw up a Bucket List
- Try out a New Recipe
- Watch an Inspirational Video on YouTube (e.g. a Ted Talk)
- Pop on your Favourite Beats and Dance in the lounge
- Create something
- Browse in the Library
- Visit a Museum or Art Gallery
- Invent something.
- Play Words with Friends or Patience
- Pamper yourself with a Pedicure or Manicure (if money is tight, you can swop treatments with a good friend).
- Relax in Your Comfiest Armchair with a Cup of Tea
- Just Be
5: Let Go
Every now and again, it’s also a good idea to do something a bit crazy. Something out of character.
- Take yourself on an Artists date
- Go on a girl’s night out
- Go on a wild Date Night with your husband at a club where you’re the oldest people there
- Or book yourselves into a local Hotel for one night, just for fun
- Get out of your head
- Reinvent Yourself
- Go to a stand-up comedy show and laugh your head off
- Plan a Dream Holiday on some exotic island and follow through
- Join a Church
- Go skydiving or bungee jumping or sailing or on a ski-trip… or something
- Anything that takes your fancy (within reason)
- Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
- Visit a beautiful Cathedral
- Try something new
- Take your kids to the funfair
- Go camping
- Take your kids to Disneyland
- Volunteer at an Animal Shelter or a Children’s home or an Old Age Home
- Go on a Pilgrimage
- Light up the world
- Go to a rock concert
- Play Pretend
- Walk the Camino
- Or just close your eyes and go to any place you like in your mind
- Find your Happy
Take Care of Yourself Mama! You Matter.
Over to You
Is there any aspect of self-care you think I have left out? Do you see self-care as self-indulgence or a vital part of your health and wellbeing? What do you do to feel your best? What do you do to operate at your peak? Join the conversation below…