As a group of family doctors and many of us being mom’s ourselves, we understand the unique challenges that come with balancing the demands of motherhood and remembering self care, while still making yourself a priority. As mothers, we can certainly speak of the difficulty in taking time just for ourselves; however, it is important to remember that in order to be the best mom you have to give yourself care. You need to make yourself a priority.
Managing Stress, Improving Sleep, and Prioritizing Self-Care for Moms
Before delving into specific tips, it's crucial to emphasize the significance of self-care. As mothers, we often put the needs of others ahead of our own. However, it's vital to remember that taking care of yourself is not selfish but necessary for your own health and your ability to care for others effectively. You need time to yourself, too. You deserve to be a priority.
Stress is an inevitable part of life, but many of us have allowed our lives to become over-stressed. Leaving us in a constant state of fight or flight leading to a number of negative side effects including; weight gain, poor sleep, increased risk of diseases, poor diet choices, headaches, lack of focus and much more. Stress has been linked to numerous health issues, but the good news is you can change this. You can learn to stress less and how to better manage stress. Here are some strategies to consider:
- Just breathe. Anytime you are feeling overwhelmed take a moment to take some deep breaths. You will be amazed at how quickly this can calm you down and make you more able to handle the situation at hand.
- Prioritize tasks, delegate responsibilities when possible, and organize your schedule to ensure you have dedicated time for both work and family.
- Set boundaries. Clearly define your work hours and protect your personal time. Don't be afraid to say "no" when necessary to prevent burnout.
- Practice mindfulness. Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises. These practices can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
- Don't hesitate to lean on your support network, whether it's a spouse, family, friends, or support groups for healthcare professionals. Sharing your experiences and seeking help when needed can be incredibly therapeutic.
- Accept that you can't do it all, and that's perfectly okay. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day and set achievable goals.
- Incorporate regular exercise into your routine. Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever and mood booster. Consider activities like walking, jogging, yoga, or dancing.
- Maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated. Avoid relying on processed or comfort foods when stressed. Nutrient-rich foods can provide energy and support your overall well-being.
Adequate sleep is essential for physical and mental health. Yet, as busy moms, we often struggle to get the rest we need. There is always more to do in the day and many of us are guilty of sacrificing sleep for the sake of productivity. Sleep needs to become a priority as it is incredibly important for your well-being. Learn more about the importance of sleep here. After you familiarize yourself with how important sleep really is, now you are ready to implement some tips for improving your sleep quality:
- Create a bedtime routine, just like you aim to do for your children. Establish a relaxing bedtime routine that signals to your body that it's time to wind down. This might include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing gentle stretches.
- Limit screen time, again just like we aim to do for our children, you should avoid any devices at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Consistency helps regulate your body's internal clock.
- Create a comfortable sleep environment. Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature. Invest in a good mattress and pillows to support a restful sleep. Think of your bedroom as a sanctuary used only for two things – sex and sleep.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol. Be mindful of your caffeine and alcohol intake, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime. These substances can disrupt sleep patterns.
As we stated earlier in this article you need to start thinking of self-care as a necessity. Self-care does not have to look a specific way. It’s important that you step back and think about what is important to you and makes you feel better. Here are some self-care options to consider:
- Hobbies – Engage in activities you're passionate about, whether it's reading, painting, gardening, or any other hobby that brings you joy. Make the time for it everyday. Even if it’s just 15 minutes.
- Relaxation. Think about what helps you relax and make time for it. This can be a hot bubble bath before bed, a weekly massage, a midday nap, or a mediation session.
- Exercise Regularly – Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever. Find time for exercise, even if it's just a short walk or a quick home workout. Many of us may dread the gym, but if you can make physical fitness fun it’s now a multi-purpose activity, it is your form of self care and helps you be a physically healthy person - win!
- Healthy eating – Nourish your body with balanced, nutritious meals. Avoid relying on fast food or processed snacks, which can contribute to fatigue and stress. Also, avoid the “treating” yourself mentality as self-care. Food should not be seen as a reward, but as a necessity to properly fuel your body for all the amazing things it does.
- Practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself and recognize that it's okay to ask for help or take a break when needed. You are not superhuman, and self-care is an ongoing process.
- Get regular check-ups. Make sure to prioritize your own health by scheduling routine medical appointments.
Moms, Make Yourself a Priority
Motherhood is not easy and many of us entirely forget to make ourselves a priority, but this is a necessity. Moms you need to start putting yourself first sometimes, by learning to manage stress, improve sleep, and prioritize self-care. Remember that taking care of yourself is not only a gift to yourself but also to your family.