Contented motherhood starts here: self-care for mums explained
Self-care is such a buzz word these days! While it’s great to see a growing movement for it, the concept is still a bit vague and the practice can be hard to come by, particularly for us mums. It has a tendency to get confused with time-consuming experiences like an immersive retreat, or expensive commercial pampering, massages and the like. And while these activities fall into the category of self-care, true self-care goes a whole lot deeper than that.
Which is why we thought we’d clear up some common questions and share some words of wisdom on how to make it happen from Psychologist and Health Coach, Suzy Reading – one of our experts in The Sanctuary.
So what exactly is self-care?
Simply put, self-care is health care.
As Suzy shares in our Art of Self-Care Masterclass: “It’s nourishment for the head the heart and the body. It’s an act that nurtures your present self and makes an investment in your future self. So through that lens, you can see how a glass of wine savoured at the end of the day, can be an act of self-care, however, if that glass of wine turns into two or three and a late night, you’re hardly going to be thanking yourself for those choices in the morning. So self-care is nourishment. It’s nurturing who you are right now, it’s meeting your needs in this moment, but it’s also taking care of the person that you’re becoming.”
When you talk about self-care to mums it can elicit a bunch of reactions – it can feel heavy. Almost like it is yet ANOTHER thing we need to do. We are already stretched beyond limits some days, how on earth can we fit self-care in as well? It can also bring up feelings of guilt or even unworthiness. So let’s take a deeper look at these concerns.
How can I find the time for self-care?
Here’s the great news. True self-care doesn’t need to take up a lot of time! A little bit often is actually far more effective than a lot seldom.
Suzy says,“Self-care can actually consist of micro-moments, seconds of care, peppered throughout your day.” This regular checking in with tiny acts of self-love means you don’t reach that state of feeling so overwhelmed, chasing your day, burned-out and exhausted.[/vc_column_text]
I feel guilty or selfish when I do self-care. How can I change that perspective?
Suzy explains, “just as we routinely brush our teeth daily, there should be no guilt in looking after our emotional and energetic selves”. We have all heard the saying that we need to fit our life mask first so we can care for others. And it is so true. Maintaining a full(ish) cup is an essential part of being able to care for our loved ones. But it goes even deeper than that…
Self-care is the path to becoming the woman you want to be.
There is nothing indulgent about looking after yourself if it allows you to evolve into being a healthy and contented person!
We love this mantra that Suzy encourages mums to recall each time those feelings of guilt start to come up:
“It’s not me first – it’s me as well.”
For a daily reminder, you can download our free Sacred Self-Care Planner at the bottom of this page that includes this mantra.
Will self-care even help me?
While self-care isn’t everything, it’s a fundamental part of our journey to feeling healthy and whole throughout motherhood. It’s one of the first steps recommended to mums with postnatal depression and anxiety, or suffering from stress, overwhelm, repairing from pregnancy and birth, and the highly demanding early stages of motherhood. It also greatly assists those feeling disconnected from their body, their child or partner or even their purpose. So, yes. Self-care is indeed one of the best investments mums can make in their mind-body recovery.
With that being said, healing doesn’t happen right away – healing takes time. Self-care is cumulative and although it’s not always easy, it’s crucial for sustaining ourselves throughout motherhood.
The truth is that stress is always present for us mums. That is the nature of life. We cannot wish away stress – promising ourselves we will look after ourselves later.
“When they are finally sleeping through or at school, then, I will start taking better care of myself” – is something we hear mums say a lot. The habits we develop during a healthy self-care practice, allow us to manage these inevitable stresses with more ease.
“So where do I start?”
Your first step is to define what self-care uniquely looks like for you. Then you need to sustainably integrate it into your life. Having a community cheering you on and feeding you fresh ideas is an invaluable part of this. Start to look at how you can build this up around you to give yourself the best possible chance of success.
Implementing true self-care starts with defining what your ideal ‘future you’ looks like and working in micro-nourishment on a daily basis, so you can feed her into existence.
Self-care is truly unique to everyone, but here are some examples to get you started:
- Be in nature
- Notice and honour your feelings
- Keep hydrated
- Hold both hands on your teacup and sit down to enjoy it
- Smell your favourite scent
- Eat a nourishing breakfast
- Play uplifting tunes
- Forgive yourself
- Practice shoulder rolls
- Get to bed earlier
- Get out of the house and breathe fresh air
- Ask for help
- Listen to an uplifting podcast/audiobook
- Say no to something you really don’t want to do
- Practice salutations to the sun while the kettle boils
- Take 3 deep breaths
What’s on your list?
You might find it really helpful to start mapping out your unique self-care toolkit in our Sacred Self-Care Planner.
Tip: Don’t limit yourself to activities that can only be done ‘on your own’ – you can work in your little one/s as well! It’s a great way to model self-love to them and to make it easier to build it into your day.