In a recent post on a Facebook mommy group, I asked “are any of you ladies experiencing mommy burnout?”. The answer was a resounding “YES”! I can’t pretend like it shocked me. I too have been feeling the burn lately. Mommy burnout, as defined by author Sheryl Ziegler, is emotional and physical exhaustion that you feel from the chronic stress of parenting. Moms everywhere spend long days and nights caring for, working for, and looking after everyone and everything. Self-care is typically the last thing on our minds. In my previous article, What I Wish I Knew Before Marriage, I introduced this topic but let’s dig a little deeper into the “why”.
Empty Cups Can’t Pour
In an interview at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Oprah Winfrey said the following:
“You don’t have anything to give that you don’t have. It is your job to find your power base, fill yourself up, and keep yourself full.”
When we have nothing in our cups, we have nothing to pour. Let that soak in for a moment. Most of us busy moms take pride in the fact that we can run off of little to no energy without considering the damage it does. Running on empty causes increased headaches, physical fatigue, sleeplessness or sometimes insomnia, extreme irritability, stress weight gain, and bad eating habits, just to name a few. Ladies, you have got to fill your cup up so you can have something to give. That is the basis of what this is all about- taking care of you so you can take care of others. Let’s explore 5 SIMPLE WAYS to practice self-care.
1. Silence Is Golden
Some afternoons after a long day at work or after a great gym session, I sit in my car in silence. The quietness I find in “Faith Flex” (yes I named my car lol) gives me life! I have even began driving to work with no music or anything playing. Sitting in silence is extremely therapeutic. I recently read an article titled “hidden benefits to silence“. A few of the benefits listed were:
- Lowered blood pressure
- Decreased stress levels
- Awareness of self and environment
Take a few minutes today and find a quiet place. It can be your car, basement, or my personal favorite, the bathroom with the door LOCKED. You’ll thank me later!
During a recent girls trip, a friend of mine introduced me to the aromatherapy line at bath and body works. She told me what she uses and how it helps her. I was instantly intrigued because I have spurts of insomnia and am always looking for something to help me sleep at night. Per her suggestion, I went and bought a few products (I will be reviewing them in a few weeks). Talk about GAME CHANGING!!!!!! The first night I used the products, I got the most amazing sleep ever. Nothing says self-care better than a good night’s rest. Aromatherapy, or “fairy dust” as my husband calls it, changes your whole atmosphere with the power of smell. You can buy scents to help you relax, relieve stress, or sleep better. Products include candles, body wash/bubble bath, room sprays, and even lotions. This can go hand in hand with your silent-practice. Can you imagine how relaxed you would feel after a quiet, aromatherapy induced shower?
3. Date Yourself!
For many of us who are married, this may seem really strange. I actually started doing this when I had my oldest son. Being a single, teenage mom back then was extremely stressful. Between school and work, I was always on the go. So I would find time to take myself to a matinee on days when I had no school. I rarely watched the movie. I mostly paid my $5 to take a nap in a cold, dark theater. It was my most favorite form of self-care. Solo dates can be pretty much anything- going to the gym or taking a park walk (yes, working out counts as a date!), getting your nails done, a lunch or dinner date, or try the movies. Whatever it looks like for you, spend some time hanging out with “YOU” because you are pretty cool!
Not many think of this as self-care but it most definitely is. In fact, it the single most important form of self-care for me. Prayer is my way of unplugging from the world and plugging into a much higher power source. It gives me clarity, peace, strength, and everything else I need to keep pressing through life. Developing a prayer life doesn’t have to be complicated. Try setting your morning alarm just 10 minutes earlier than normal, 20 minutes for you snooze pushers lol. Use those extra few minutes to say a prayer or just meditate. I typically turn on some soaking music (instrumental songs that calm the atmosphere) and just flow. Sometimes I do all the talking, other times I open my bible and let the scriptures speak to me. I understand that there are different strokes for different folks but prayer is a pillar of self-care for me.
I know you’re probably thinking “everybody isn’t a writer” but let me tell you why that is not true. As long as you know how to use a pen and a piece of paper, you can be a writer. That doesn’t mean I’m telling you ladies that everyone can write a New York best selling novel. What I’m saying is that putting your feelings on paper is an easy and free outlet. When you create a space for yourself to release all of your inner thoughts, you feel relieved- which is definitely considered self-care. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I use an app called “Journal It” for writing so that I can write whenever, where ever. I also like it because I can go back and look at previous posts to see how life has changed, whether it’s good changes or bad. Seeing your growth is an essential part of self-care because it gives you a moment to say to yourself “I’m proud of you, I love you, now keep being great!”
Looking Into The Mirror
That last line was came from something I learned during a women’s conference. One of the presenters had us look into a mirror and say “I love you and I’m proud of you”. He then asked us how it made us feel. I was the first to admit that it made me extremely uncomfortable, almost bringing me to tears. To be honest, I didn’t believe what I said. I wasn’t used to hearing me say nice things about myself. It was in that moment that I realized I need to start positively affirming myself every single day. Practicing silence, taking scented showers, prayer, writing, and dating myself is all good but I have to speak life over ME! That is my challenge to you. Look in the mirror every morning and give yourself a positive pep talk. Even if you don’t believe it. Keep doing it until you believe your own words. Watch how these simple things will transform your life!