The Truth About Self-care and Motherhood.

Self-care has been trending for a couple of years now. It seems like everyone these days is talking about it. I’ve seen it a lot in the #momlife realm, there’s so much debate over whether or not showers are self-car. What is self-care and what isn’t it? Is basic hygiene self-care or does it have to be a luxury day at the spa to count? 

The way I see it, self-care is simply taking care of yourself, however you need it, at this moment. Addressing your own needs and desires is how you practice self-care. If you need a shower – for hydrotherapy purposes, for mental clarity purposes, for a break from the outside world, or simply because you need to be clean – that’s self-care. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Harvard Health Publishing defines self-care as “paying attention to and supporting one’s own physical and mental health.” 

Sounds a lot like practicing mindfulness to me – becoming aware of one’s body, mind and spirit in the present – and taking action to adjust what’s not working for you. 

Self-care is mindfully taking care of yourself. As moms, our instinct is often to push our own needs to the side and suppress that urge to care for ourselves so we can care for our children instead. Somewhere along the line, someone told us that it was selfish to put ourselves first. Someone told our moms that spending money on their own wardrobe, hair, nails, experiences, lives, was selfish. Someone told all moms everywhere that their own mental health meant nothing if they didn’t spend every ounce of their energy on their children, home and husband. 

Someone lied. 

Someone lied to us all and it’s time we embrace the truth. 

The Truth About Self-Care and Motherhood:

You are worthy of your own time. 

You are worthy of your own money. 

You are worthy of your own health. 

You are worthy. You are worthy. You are worthy.

As our flight attendants always remind us: we must secure our own oxygen masks first, before assisting our children. This is so we don’t lose so much oxygen that we are incapable of securing their masks properly. In our everyday life, it’s important to care for ourselves first, so we are mentally and physically able to care for our children. 

How can we expect to take care of our children if we can’t take care of ourselves? How can we expect them to learn to care for themselves if we aren’t setting the example?

If we aren’t caring for ourselves, not only do we rob our children of modeling a healthy example for their own self-care, we rob them of a happy, healthy mom. Self-care is the first step we can take towards preventing stress, fear, overwhelm, anxiety and depression from taking the driver’s seat in our lives. When we constantly take the time to analyze what we need physically, mentally, and even spiritually, we can catch the first signs of distress before they take root. 

I can’t speak for you – or as a healthcare professional – but I can speak for me; self-care means self-preservation. 

This is how I keep from letting suicidal thoughts creep in and become suicidal plans. Making my own mental health a priority every single day, has kept me from slipping into the depressive episodes I used to struggle with. 

I battled depression and anxiety for 12+ years. I contemplated suicide a handful of times, but last June (2020) I decided that would be the last time I ever consider it. Suicide was no longer an option. I won’t be taking an escape route from this life. 

I dedicated my life to finding daily peace and joy. I made mental health my priority. I leaned into God in a way I never had before. In doing so, I have learned to listen to my body’s whispers – and screams – when things aren’t functioning quite right. And I’ve grown spiritually, unlearned some “doctrine” and learned more about how I truly thrive when I lean into the Word rather than what man has to say about the Word. 

It’s been a journey and it’s been deeply rooted in self-care. 

How can you take better care of yourself?

5 ways you can approach practical self care. It’s an act of mindful reflection and action, not a mindless trend following. 

  1. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. 

You may be practicing self-care without realizing it, or you may be feigning self-care and greatly neglecting what you truly need. Think of your needs in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We start at the bottom, or basic human needs, and work our way up.

Fulfill your basic needs of food and rest; eat something nutritious and fueled your body, take time to rest, aim for good sleep and take days off.

Fulfill your Psychological needs in your relationships and belonging; date your husband, call a friend, spend time alone (your relationship with yourself is important, too).

Fulfill your Self, your ego; this is where you get to Bloom. When all your other needs are met, you can begin work towards reaching your potential and fulfilling your dreams.

  1. Speak your own love language. 

Find out your love language (https://www.5lovelanguages.com/) and practice self-care in that style. If your language is words of affirmations, make it a daily habit to speak affirmations over yourself. If your language is gifts, then treating yo’ self really is self-care. Speaking our own love language is a great way to infuse joy into your daily life. 

  1. Discover your enneagram type. 

By finding out your enneagram type (yourennegramcoach.com), you can learn your core fears and desires based on your unique personality type. This can lead to a deep and meaningful self-care experience. 

  1. Journal for mindfulness. 

Use your journal to let the mental juices flow. Do a brain dump ad see if anything comes up that needs your time and energy for you to be at your best. Check in with your body, mind, and spirit one at a time and decide what needs action to help get you to your best self.  

  1. Play self-care bingo or take on a 30 day challenge. 

Make a note of which activities brought you the most joy. Make it a priority to work these into your regular schedule. 

You can’t pour from an empty cup, friend. Choose to refill.

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