If you follow me on Instagram then you’ll understand why I haven’t posted here in a while and why we’re gonna talk about the importance of taking care of yourself.
Personally, this year has been brutal. From seriously injuring my shoulder to a cancer scare (not sick-huzzah!) to my father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the needs of my children and my husband in grad school…yeah. It’s been a doozy. Thankfully I finally feel healthy and strong enough to get back into my yoga practice, hiking with my family, and living life fully again.
Hands-down the hardest part is that life didn’t stop while I was down for the count. All of this was 10x more difficult with me either completely out of commission or recovering.
So, let’s talk about self-care, mmm-kay?
I’m not talking about crystal baths, yoga retreats, or expensive spa days, although all of them are lovely and have their place.
I’m talking about literally taking care of yourself so life isn’t harder than it has to be. I know how hard it is to prioritize yourself, mentally, spiritually, and physically, when you have littles who need you so much. But just like they tell you to put your own oxygen mask on first when it hits the fan on an airplane before you help your kids, life works the same way.
Focus on the small, daily stuff you can do
Take a minute and jot down the things that make you feel more centered and energetic. Resist the impulse to write down “a bottle of wine” or “a pan of brownies.” Those are two of my favorite things in the whole wide world, so I get it. But both of those things feel great in the moment and make me feel like garbage the next day. That defeats the purpose.
Don’t underestimate the power of the small things that add up. Here’s my list:
- Drinking 100oz of water a day
- Eating 2 big servings of veggies a day
- Getting 8 hours of sleep a night
- A Mental check-in with myself, including 3 minutes of mediation
- Getting 15-20 minutes of movement into my body. This could be stretching, walking the dog, kitchen dance party…doesn’t have to be a “workout”
These tiny things, done consistently, make me a better person and therefore a better mama. I’m more patient with myself and the boys. I have the clarity to respond thoughtfully to things instead of reacting emotionally. My energy and mood is stable. I can release any guilt because I know I’ve done things that support my long term health goals daily.
Some other free things you can do to make sure you’re taking care of yourself:
- Put down your phone
- Do a social media audit and unfollow the crap out of anyone who makes you feel bad
- Read a book just for fun
- Take that crystal bath
- Get that one thing done that’s been on your to-do list for weeks (or months *ahem*) and is annoying you every time you think about it
- Take a 10-minute walk (even if it’s just laps around your yard while carrying the baby monitor)
- Connect with other parents in the same situation as you
- Set some boundaries with people who are stressing you out – especially as we head into the holidays (Check out @the.holistic.psychologist on Instagram for some awesome tools!)
Splurges You Can Afford
The key thing here is that if you’re going to “treat” yourself you can truly afford it and I’m not just talking about money here. Make sure it’s not actually going to set you back energetically, either (see: discussion above regarding that bottle of wine or pan of brownies). Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Take an exercise class – either one you love or try something new
- Hire a babysitter so you can do whatever you WANT to do. If that’s running to Target without your kids, cool. But if you just want to go get a Starbucks and read or go back to your room, put on noise-canceling headphones and take a nap, that’s cool, too.
- Connect with your partner. My schedule is flexible so while the kids are in school (hello free babysitting) Alex and I have date lunches. I find we have such different conversations at lunchtime and it’s usually cheaper – so win-win in my book!
- Invest in therapy. Seriously, I can’t handle all the stuff life is throwing at me without a bit of guidance and someone who is being paid to listen to whatever it is that I need to purge from my system.
- Batch cook some food to toss in the freezer and help your future self out
- Pick up a hobby that is just for you. Staying connected to your interests and your creative side will feed your soul. So go salsa dancing, or wine tasting, or bust out your paints, but do it because YOU love it.
One last thought…Self Care doesn’t mean “selfish,” but sometimes it does mean saying “No.”
You know what else I do? I say no. I say no to me and my kids being overcommitted and overscheduled. When life gets really rough, I call people and say, “I thought I would have the capacity to give this the attention it deserves, but things have changed and I can’t right now. Thank you for understanding.” I say no, thanks, when the boys want to go camping and I know I would hate being out there and ruin their fun. I say no, I’ve gone to 2 soccer games already this weekend, I’m not going to go to this one.
The key difference for me here is that I do give of my time when I have the energy. But I refuse to give to others and have nothing left for those who mean the most to me. So I don’t feel one shred of guilt because I know these decisions are in alignment with my self-care needs and benefit my family who is rightfully my #1 priority.
For more ideas on self-care, from free/cheap options to splurges and for things to support you both physically and mentally, make sure you’re on my monthly mailing list and follow me on Instagram @rebegrantham or my Facebook page!
I’ve got a post in the works for later this month on meditation and how to get started that I’m really excited about. If you’ve ever wanted to get started, but felt overwhelmed or like you were screwing it up – this one is for you!