I have been posting quite a few posts lately with simple self-care ideas, with the aim of it being so simple that anyone – including and ESPECIALLY caregiving mums – are able to fit more self-care into their life.
By self-care I don’t mean bubble baths and painting nails, I mean ways in which you can take care of yourself – the basics – things like eating well, moving your body, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, making time for yourself, making time to feel your feelings, having a calm home etc etc.
This stuff is really important – it’s what will help us stop from burning out, or just feeling completely overwhelmed and stressed out all the time.
Everything is so much easier when you are taking care of yourself.
BUT – most of us know this stuff.
We know we need to take better care of ourselves, we know that to be the mum we need to be who can take care of our children and families the way that we want to take care of them means that we need to be taking care of us and filling our cup too.
And yet – most of us are not doing it.
So in this post I am going to be trying to help you over come some of the issues that might come up and hopefully they will help!
Changing our mindset
Our mindset it one of the biggest hurdles we have to get over when it comes to taking care of ourselves.
It brings up all sorts of issues, like I just don’t have time. You just don’t get how hard my life is. I just don’t have any willpower. It’s selfish to take care of myself.
We need to re-frame our thoughts so that taking care of ourselves is easier.
I don’t have time —> I can do 2 minutes.
My life is too hard —> I can find a way to make it simple and easy.
I don’t have any willpower –> It doesn’t have to be perfect
I don’t know where to start —> Just choose one thing.
This is too overwhelming –> I can make this simple.
Putting myself first is selfish –> I am a much better mother when I put myself first
Self-care isn’t selfish
Putting ourselves first can seem extremely uncomfortable and guilt inducing when we are so used to putting our own needs last.
Deciding to put yourself first and make sure your needs are being met is not selfish at all.
It is essential in fact.
It is so difficult to be the mum who is calm and not shouty, and does all the things she needs to do the best that she can when you are not looking after yourself properly.
A well cared for mum means well cared for kids.
If you are struggling to see it for yourself, or struggling in general to even consider the idea of taking care of yourself, it might help to think of your body in the third person.
Think of yourself as a separate person/child
This can be helpful for a lot of things, including body image issues if they are a thing for you – but thinking of yourself as a separate person can make it a lot easier for you to take better care of yourself.
Imagine you have been put in charge of taking care of your body – in the same way that you would feel if you were put in charge of taking care of a friend’s child.
You would make sure they were eating well – not just eating junk food the entire time they were in your care, you would make sure they had a drink so they didn’t get overly thirsty, you would make sure they went to bed at a decent time, that they were clean and had some time to be active and some time to just relax a bit with some quiet time.
You may read this and think well of course, that is what taking care of someone looks like – so do it for you too.
Take care of yourself the way you would take care of someone else.
Sometimes creating a separation makes it a lot easier, especially if you have any negative emotions towards yourself and your body like feeling you don’t deserve to be taken care of etc.
Make eating well simple
We make things so overwhelming.
We feel like if we are not eating the weird salad bowls and all the kinda gross looking green stuff all the ‘healthy’ people on instagram are eating then we are not being healthy – but that isn’t true.
You can eat a ‘normal’ diet and be healthy.
Just make it simple.
How can you make your usual foods healthier? Can you add a salad into your sandwich or a side salad to your meal. Would a side of chopped up veggies be more satisfying to your sandwich than a packet of crisps? Have both.
You don’t need to take anything away, always add in.
Crowd out the less nutritious foods by adding more nutritious foods in.
REMEMBER: All foods fit. Both nutritious and less nutritious foods can feature in a healthy balanced diet, the point of crowding out is so that the nutritious foods feature more.
You can make eating simpler by creating balanced plates for each meal and tuning into your hunger and fullness levels.
Make movement simple
Find a movement you love and stick to that.
If you don’t know what exercise you like – have a think about what you used to enjoy doing as a child. Did you like climbing trees? Maybe rock climbing would suit you. Did you like going for walks? Then walk. Did you like a team sport? Maybe there is a team sport for adults near you.
Make it simple.
If you don’t enjoy something or if you feel like you have to dig really, really deep every single time to find the motivation to do that exercise – it’s not for you – move on and find something else.
Hate HIIT? Me too. So I don’t do it. (Sorry, not sorry, Joe Wicks).
And don’t underestimate the power of walking.
Ditch the all or nothing.
We quite often feel like we have no willpower. We eat well or exercise for a few days, maybe a few weeks – sometimes longer. But we end up ‘falling off the wagon’ and beating ourselves up for a lack of willpower.
But it’s not a willpower issue.
It is a you are going from 0 to 100 issue.
Add in one healthy meal/snack.
Add in exercise once a week.
Add in 2 minutes of something every day.
Go to bed 10 minutes earlier every day.
Make it so small it makes it harder to fail, and build consistency from there.
I promise it’s not a willpower issue.
To be consistent it needs to be a habit.
When you feel there is no time.
I honestly get it.
Life is so busy and you have all the extra demands on you too.
Making time for anything else seems impossible.
But…what about 2 minutes?
Can you make time for just two minutes?
Go to bed 2 minutes earlier. Do 5 squats while you wait for the shower to warm up or the kettle to boil. Walk for 2 minutes.
Whilst 2 minutes may seem pointless – 2 minutes is almost certainly better than 0 minutes.
Start small and build up – one habit at a time.
Build that 2 minutes up to 5 minutes.
Just do one tiny thing and build from there.
What is getting in the way of you taking care of you?
Let me know in the comments and I will try to help!