Moms are always busy taking care of everyone else. They often forget about themselves. Here's a guide to self-care for busy moms to help them remember to take care of themselves.
The past few years has been difficult for everyone. A few months into the pandemic of 2020, self-care became quite the buzzword. As much as I try to avoid trendy fads, self-care is something that shouldn’t be ignored. If you’re looking to live a happier, more satisfying life, self-care is important. Taking care of yourself may seem like a selfish act, but it’s crucial to your wellbeing. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll find it harder to take care of others.
Herein lies the problem for many of who spend the bulk of our time caring for our families. Normal day-to-day care—laundry, cooking, cleaning—is hard enough, but when you add in that you struggle with executive functioning or you have to manage the executive functioning of others, it requires a ton more energy. The first thing to be neglected is self-care.
Let’s talk about why self-care is so important and how you can incorporate it into your daily life.
What is Self-Care?
Let’s start by looking at what self-care is. Obviously, you know it’s about taking care of yourself, but do you know exactly what it is? Many people don’t think about it because it is often explained in a very vague way.
Self-care is about taking care of yourself the same way you take care of others. It is about knowing what your mind and body needs. How many times have you looked at a tantrum-throwing toddler and known it was naptime? Or watched your pre-teen get cranky and know they needed a snack. As parents, we know what our kids need. Often we’re equally good at knowing what our partners need almost before they do.
But we rarely think about what we really need. This is why we need a guide for self-care. Self-care is about knowing when to step back to replenish your resources and show yourself compassion.
One common misconception that self-care relates to anything that makes you feel good. While a lot of self-care tasks will make you happier, self-care isn’t just about doing what feels good. Eating a bag of potato chips when you’re stressed out might seem like self-care because you enjoy it. However, this will lead to additional health issues, if you continue over-indulging.
Self-care is really about doing things that are good for the mind and body. But why does it matter?
Why is Self-Care So Important?
Proper health and well-being is vital for living a long life. Self-care is how you ensure your mind and body are functioning as well as they can.
Some of the main benefits of self-care include:
- Improved physical and mental health
- Increased energy
- Improved self-esteem
- Increased ability to fight disease
- Improved ability to help others
When your body has everything it needs, you’ll see a drastic improvement in your physical and mental health. It helps boost the immune system, enabling it to fight off illness and disease. Studies have revealed that self-care activities stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. This means your body goes into rest mode, helping it to recharge and relax.
As self-care helps you sleep better, which leads to you feeling more energized throughout the day. It also combats stress, which can have all kinds of benefits such as improvements in your relationships.
Those who don’t take care of themselves, often suffer from lower self-esteem. So, if you’re looking to feel more confident, taking care of your needs is a good place to start.
Remember, it’s hard to take care of others when you aren’t taking care of yourself first. Just like when you’re on a plane and the flight attendant tells you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. It goes against our instincts, so this is something we need to learn to do.
Common Self-Care Obstacles
If we know self-care is important, why don’t people find time to fit it into their daily lives? The truth is, there are a lot of self-care obstacles you need to contend with. By understanding the challenges, you can address them and make self-care a habit.
#1: You’re too busy
Most people live busy lives these days, which can make it harder to focus on their needs. As I mentioned earlier, we put taking care of those we love before taking care of yourselves. If it already feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day, how are you supposed to fit self-care in too?
While it can be challenging to add a self-care routine into your daily life, there are ways to do it. First, you have to switch your mindset on self-care. Instead of seeing it as a chore, view it as an essential part of your well-being. If it’s something you look forward to, it makes carving out the time for it to happen a priority.
You can wake up earlier or focus on self-care when the kids have gone to bed. There are always ways to fit self-care into our routines, no matter how busy we are.
#2: A lack of motivation or feeling of overwhelm
Another common challenge is having a lack of motivation. Creating a self-care routine can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re already inundated with responsibilities. If it seems like a huge task, it might be impossible to muster the motivation. You may also have issues with motivation if you’re suffering from depression.
There are different types of self-care and you might feel the need to focus on all of them. This means creating a full self-care routine you can follow.
The thought of trying to fit in lots of new activities and tasks into your day can be overwhelming. Because of this, people often tend to put off focusing on self-care as they just can’t deal with the overwhelm.
To make it easier, you can start off by focusing on just one area of self-care. It could be improving your fitness, getting a better night’s sleep, or eating a little healthier.
The key is to focus on making small changes at a time. Don’t try to add too much at once. Think of one area you want to improve, and then set small goals. As you reach each goal, your motivation to continue will be boosted. You’ll be feeling better and have more energy so continuing will become easier.
#3: You feel it’s selfish
Many of us view self-care as selfish. We feel like we should be able to do everything ourselves. Taking care of others is viewed as much more important than taking care of ourselves. However, the truth is that self-care isn’t selfish, it is necessary for our well-being.
This feeling of selfishness is increased if we feel like we’ve failed in some areas in our lives. If you can’t successfully manage your schedule, how can you possibly think to give yourself a break? Self-care shouldn’t be viewed as a reward as a job well done. It’s something we should do regardless of how successful we feel.
You can’t help others if you aren’t taking care of yourself. If you feel constantly tired, stressed out and physically or mentally unwell, you’re going to struggle to take care of others. You won’t be able to give your loved ones the best version of yourself.
Stop thinking self-care is selfish and start realizing that it is necessary for a healthy, happy, and balanced individual.
These are some of the most common challenges to self-care most people experience. Identifying what’s holding you back is the first step to making a change. However, if you want to truly get the benefits of self-care, it’s worth looking into the full stages of change. That is, the steps you need to take to go from thinking about changing your lifestyle, to changing it.
These are the general stages of change you need to be aware of. Eventually, your new self-care habits will become so ingrained in your routine that you miss the relapse stage.
Now that we’ve looked at what it takes to make changes in your self-care routine, it’s time to examine the different areas. There are different types of self-care you can focus on so you’ll want to understand each of them before putting together a self-care plan.
Making Your Habit Long Term
Once you’ve got your self-care routine set up, you still might struggle with keeping it up. It’s important to keep the momentum going long term if you want to maintain the changes you’ve made.
How can you keep the momentum going?
Remind yourself why you are doing it
Over time, it’s easy to forget why you started making changes in your life—especially when things are going well. You might start the think, “I don’t need this anymore.” I would urge you to make a shift or adjustment instead of abandoning the practice. When you feel good, sometimes you don’t remember how bad it really was. But you don’t want to go back there. Instead, try something new or focus on a different aspect of self-care. Let’s face it: most of us have plenty of room for improvement throughout our lives.
It’s a good idea to remind yourself why you are focusing on self-care. Think of the benefits resulting from the changes you make. When you remember why you want to change, it can push you to carry on.
Continue to create small goals
Goal setting is crucial to success when it comes to creating new habits. If you want to keep momentum going, you need to continue setting small goals for yourself. That’s why although you have a large goal, we break it down into doable steps that aren’t overwhelming.
When you have goals to work towards in self-care, it keeps you motivated to achieve them. Of course, the key here is to make sure the goals are small and achievable. As you complete each goal, you feel successful and you want to keep going. If all you see is the big picture—the overall goal—you might feel like you’ll never reach it. Celebrate the milestones that bring you closer to the finish line. But remember, even when you reach that finish line, you will create a new set of goals with a new finish line.
Reflect on your progress
Finally, reflecting on the progress you’ve made can also keep you motivated. Look at how far you have come. Write down the improvements you’ve experienced already. Then, think about the ways you will further benefit when you continue your self-care journey. You can also complete a self-care journal to help you track your progress.
These are some of the best ways to stay motivated and keep up the momentum as you work on self-care.