We are currently in a time of major stress. Now, more than ever, it is important to take care of oneself (in the midst of taking care of our loved ones). Here are some of my tips for self care for mamas during stressful times:
*Disclaimer: I am not a mental health professional. I am sharing my opinion on what has and is working for me and my family. If you have any concerns, please reach out to a healthcare or mental health professional.*
1. Limit amount of time on social media
This one is a biggie for me. How easy is it to get sucked into the vortex that is social media? One click leads to another click leads to another…
I’m not saying to not stay informed and connected. By all means, keep yourself in the loop and definitely stay connected amidst the social isolation. BUT–self care for me = limiting my time on social media.
As things began to unfold in our state and in our town, I found myself constantly checking my phone (despite having a very active 3 year old and 1 1/2 year old in tow). While I did read about school closings and the state wide “stay in place” mandate, I also read tons of memes, posts, and rants…I even got sucked into (did not actively participate but I read, so there’s that) a keyboard warrior’s war against one of my friends.
I felt my mood and demeanor shift slightly (into despair, fear, confusion, sadness), so I decided to put my phone away. My kids were happier and I felt happier too.
Again, I’m not saying to NOT check in. But maybe be more deliberate and mindful in what you check, for how long, and your source.
2. Stay hydrated
This is a big one for Hubs. I am terrible at it. I basically drink coffee all day long! (Not recommended but it’s my massive vice.) I’m working on increasing my water intake. What better way to perform self care than to water oneself?
3. Be grateful
There is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. Even when you least feel it. Look around and count your blessings and say it aloud. Thank someone for being in your life. One of the best ways to engage in self care is to care about what is around you.
I’ve had days when I’ve been extremely down or grouchy or irritated with all of humanity. In those moments, it can be hard to find things to be grateful for. When I’m in a funk, I’ll let myself feel those emotions and stew for a bit…then I try again the next day or the day after that. I appreciate life so much more when I am in a mindset of gratitude.
4. Get some alone time
This one is a tough one, believe me, I get it! I bedshare with Nugget and Peanut, I’m a stay at home mom, I tandem nurse both kiddos, and Hubs works long hours and sometimes weekends. We don’t have a wide network of family or friends to help so…99% of the time, it’s me. Alone time is a rare and precious commodity.
As an introvert, I find that alone time is *SO* crucial to my mental health and wellbeing. I need that time for self care to recharge my batteries and feel human again. To each her own! Being alone is my thing. (Not that I don’t like people or hanging out with friends and family.) But being alone is what refreshes my soul.
I have had to get creative in how I get my alone time. I am lucky enough to have a partner who understands and is willing to help me in whatever way he can. When Hubs is home and the timing is right, I take a break. Sometimes that break involves me leaving the house. Now, with the “stay in place” thing, I retreat to the bathroom or another room in the house.
At the moment, both kiddos are fast asleep, so this is my alone time. Every day is different. Every night is different. I have come to expect the unexpected when it comes to parenting and self care and life in general. I am grateful for these moments though, and I’ll take what I can get.
5. Stay connected
We are social creatures, are we not? I’ve been checking in every day with different friends and family. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a quick “Hey, how are ya?” text and other times, it’s a 45 minute video chat. It’s important to let those you care about know you care! Even though we can’t be together physically, we can still share some laughs.
The community we live in has been doing a theme for our windows every few days…shamrocks…funny faces…sidewalk chalk art…uplifting words…jokes. People then walk or drive through the neighborhood and look at all the artwork. It’s a fun way to maintain distance but still be connected.
6. Be present
Someone once told me that anxiety cannot live in the present. Thinking about the past can bring about sadness; thinking about the future can bring about anxiety. Being in the present is just living in the moment.
I am trying to focus on my little family, make happy memories, and stay healthy and safe. I’m trying to stay grounded by being positive, taking things one moment at a time, and finding humor in as many places as possible.
7. Perform an act of kindness
Isn’t it ironic that sometimes the thing that brings us the most joy is seeing someone else with it? It doesn’t have to be extravagant, expensive, or complicated. A compliment, a text, a simple act of love…can go far.
8. Take care of your basic needs
Isn’t this also an ironic statement to make to a mom? Moms are used to taking care of everyone else’s needs, am I right? But seriously…try to be intentional and take care of yourself as best you can. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Eating properly. I have so many friends (myself included) who forget to eat, don’t have time to eat, or only eat their children’s leftovers. If you can, make it a point to eat at least ONE good meal per day!
- Getting enough sleep. I giggle at this one because…well, life with toddlers. And because I’m an introvert, any quiet time I get, I’d rather spend it doing things than sleeping. You get it. But I’m trying to get more sleep because IT DOES make a huge difference.
- Doing something enjoyable for yourself. When the kiddos sleep, I either blog, watch a show/movie, crochet, or clean. Find something that speaks to you and DO IT!
- Connect. Connect with your spouse, connect with friends, connect with family. Relationships are vital to our lives. Make it a point.
9. Find the balance between chaos and normal
Nothing about this time is normal. Life as we know it has been turned upside down.
I find it comforting to “go about my life” as if everything were normal (while maintaining social distancing and staying put at home, of course). I’m still doing laundry and cleaning and playing games with the kiddos and making dinner. I’m a homebody anyway, so this doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for me.
At the same time, I realize that life is NOT normal and the children can pick up on our vibes. We’ve had ice cream for breakfast. We’ve video chatted with family in the middle of the night. We’ve worn our pajamas for days straight. And it’s totally okay! Find what works for you and your family while still remaining safe and respecting the rules.
10. Reach out for help
There is NO SHAME if you need help. Repeat after me! There is no shame if you need help. It could be something as simple as needing one ingredient (which my neighbor so kindly hung on the fence post for me to get) or needing someone to talk to. Despite the negativity on social media, I have also seen so many positive and uplifting stories of people helping people. If you need help during this time, please reach out! You might be surprised by who answers the call.
For me, self care during this time means staying positive and calm for my children, connecting with my loved ones (through text and video chats), being grateful for what I have and the people I have in my life, and sending positive vibes to those who have been and are affected by what is going on.
Wishing you health and peace,