How to administer self-care during the Holidays By Classy Brown
Self-care is a bigger conversation than just for the holidays. Self-care is a very important implementation in the lives and happiness of “mommyhood”. We are the sole nourishment (for those moms who breastfeed) for our little ones, we physically carried them in our bodies, we carry them on our chests and backs, we teach them, referee them, love them, protect them, and everything else, for them. But what about us? What about the mommy?
My favorite 2017 saying is, “you cannot pour from an empty cup”. This is so powerful and really resonates with me, as I attempt to navigate life with a new baby in tow. How do I give time to my 2-yr. old, and my 6-month-old and my husband, and…? Did I really put myself last? I did.
On the road to “reclaiming my time”, and putting me first, I had to admit; there is a growing crisis and I am at ground zero. I am the weakest link. I am responsible for impacting everyone else’s life and forgot to first… impact my own. In a plane crash, you must place your oxygen mask on first. Mommies… your plane is crashing and I need you to put your oxygen mask on first!
Whatever craziness you have been balancing all year long, is going to become extra precarious during the holiday season. Therefore, this is a really good time to learn how to administer self-care.
Guidelines to Self-Care
So now that we have a plan, we have to figure out the actions. Here are a few ideas on reclaiming a moment for yourself.
I like to always start with breathing. You can slow the whole world down with focused breathing. Intentional breathing, can decrease your blood pressure, promote healthy sleep.
According to Livestrong.com, you can release toxins from your body and relieve body aches and pains. So, start with intentional breathing; in through the nose for 8 counts, hold for 8 counts, and exhale through the mouth for 8 counts. You can do this anywhere. You can teach your children to do it with you. One minute every hour, everybody takes an intentional breathing pause. Mommy needs to do it, the longer the better.
Go for a walk. Go outside. If you cannot make it outside, go in the hallway, and open a window. Fresh air does wonders to the senses, and the change of scenery could be what you need to decompress. Also, walking is a low impact way of exercising, which helps increase blood flow, and kick in those needed “feel good” hormones called endorphins. Walking for 30 minutes a day can reduce stress and high blood pressure, as well as the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the Steptohealth.com. Always walk in a safe place. If you do not have a safe place to walk, consider taking a stroll in Walmart, or in a neighboring indoor or outdoor mall. Someone watching your children would be ideal, however, this is an activity the whole family can enjoy. Did I mention that walking is free?
Crafting is a wonderful stress reliever. Moreover, the action of crafting is sometimes more important than the outcome of a craft. Start with a quick craft. They have videos and tutorials for crafts that take fewer than 15 minutes and $5 to construct. Take the moment and make something. It feels good to be a “maker” of things. If you do not have a natural affinity for crafts, take a class. Local stores like Pat Catans, JoAnn Fabrics, Michael’s and more, often have classes that are either free or a nominal fee for participation and supplies. If you have time, and help, grab a friend and take a class. These stores and specialty shops also have classes for young crafters as well.
Whether you are doing crafts at home with the kiddos, or out with a friend, or at home alone, taking a moment; there are actual health benefits to crafting. According to Mindbodygreen.com, you can improve mind and brain wellness through crafting because it helps the development of hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and fine motor dexterity; it creates mindfulness, as well as social connection; it encourages creativity and gives a sense of pride and achievement.
Dancing used to be one of my first loves, and has sadly taken a backseat, way back to living life. But I am definitely going to implement this one back into my life. Dancing, like walking, or any exercise can release those coveted hormones, endorphins. Unlike, walking, or exercise, dancing too, can increase brain and mind wellness just like crafting. Take a dance class. Line dance, ballroom dance, bell dance, ballet, whatever… take a class and explore this body you have. My body is much different now that I have children and the furniture has been moved all around. I have to reacquaint myself with my body. Knowing your body and how it moves, will build confidence that will show externally.
Think less about being perfect and more about learning something that takes care of mommy’s mind and body. If you cannot take a class, learn one dance. You tube has a variety of how to videos, that will teach you one dance in approximately 20 minutes or less. Take 20 minutes and every day work on it. By the end of the week, you should have it. If that is too difficult, take a 5-minute freestyle dance party; turn the music up, or put your headphones on, and rock it out. Let your body just move to the music, and commit to that moment of dance. Whether you do this by yourself, or with your kids, it is a moment, of release and joy.
If you think that your feelings of malaise, sadness, and anxiety are deeper than just a bad day, please seek some medical attention. Go to the doctor, go see a therapist, go to a support group. Tell someone and keep telling, until you receive the help you need. Do not be ashamed. Do not feel like a failure. Do not feel weak or incompetent. Being a mom is HARD work. Being a parent is the TRUE non-profit. Birthing children is a miracle. Women are the real superheroes. And like superheroes, we sometimes need help coping. We raise nations and suckle the next generation of leaders; this work is no small feat. So, if you need therapy, just like when you had that dislocated shoulder, go rehab your mind. GO. Hurry up and GO. Some benefits of therapy, according to Livestrong.com,
Now that we have a few ideas about what to do, we have to implement them. Luckily, most things you can do at any time. But, the idea is to commit to doing them regularly. Show up for yourself. Everyday, take several moments for yourself. Start today.
When you go visit your mom in Iowa, or Aunt Suzie in Birmingham, take an opportunity to continue what you have started at home. Parenting and “mommying” doesn’t end when you visit out of town. Kids don’t stop melting down, or needing diaper changes, or waking up in the middle of the night; and you are expected to be in tip top mommy shape. Show everyone that making time for mommy, makes mommy great. Since your in-laws love your children, leave them for 15 minutes while you take a walk. Don’t trust old Aunt Karen? Take them with you and play in the backyard. Lots of kids around and you can’t leave? Start a dance parade around the house… even if it’s just you.
BRAFMAN, B. (2017, August 14). 5 Ways Everyone Can Benefit from Seeing a Therapist. Retrieved from Livestrong: https://www.livestrong.com/article/1011754-5-ways-everyone-can-benefit-seeing-therapist/
McKay, D. S. (2014, June 24). Why Crafting Is Great For Your Brain: A Neuroscientist Explains. Retrieved from MINDBODYGREEN.COM: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14252/why-crafting-is-great-for-your-brain-a-neuroscientist-explains.html
Step to Health Website. (2017). The Benefits of Walking for 30 Minutes a Day. Retrieved from Step to Health: https://steptohealth.com/benefits-of-walking-30-minutes-day/
TUCKER, M. D. (2017, August 14). Benefits of Deep Breathing. Retrieved from LIVESTRONG.COM: https://www.livestrong.com/article/92264-benefits-deep-breathing/