My 4 simple steps to self-care
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a self-care routine in place. The way we start and end our day has SO much power. It directly affects our mindset, our health and wellbeing, as well as our productivity. But a life-changing morning routine doesn’t just happen, especially if you’re a busy mum. It must be designed and planned for. And the truth of the matter is, if you don’t start your day with intention, you’re living in survival mode – and take it from someone who knows, that’s not a great place to be.
As a working mum, I have often struggled with how to practise self-care in a meaningful way. And while self-care is not a new concept to me, it often comes in last place in the rat race of life, behind family and career. As it turns out, I’m not alone. This week, spurred on by the fact that I’m on the verge of launching a lifetime dream of mine (squeal!), I reached out to my community for some tips on practising self-care and bringing some semblance of calm into my somewhat hectic life. I’ve shared some of those tips here, as well as some of my own practises that have made a huge impact on my life.
“Taking time to be present and giving attention to my physical environment is so important.”
It’s in no way surprising that working out ranked high on the list of non-negotiables for many women. And while getting in a workout any time of day is beneficial, exercising in the morning kick-starts your metabolism and helps us to feel motivated, happier and more energetic to conquer the rest of our day. For some of us, this might mean going to a yoga class, mums and bubs yoga, or walking the kids to school instead of driving – as long as it gets your heart pounding and endorphins flowing. Whatever the activity, exercise is proven to reduce stress, improve mood and help you sleep better. #winning
For me, taking time to be present and giving attention to my physical environment is so important. This can be through meditation, mindfulness, journaling or walking on the beach – any activity that brings us back into both the present and ourselves. One mother I spoke to suggested practising mindfulness in the shower, through breathing, inhaling essential oils and taking a few minutes to focus on gratitude. Mindfulness doesn’t ask us to cut into our already busy lives, but rather start by spending a few minutes bringing our mind home to our body.
One of the ways we can practise gratitude is by starting a gratitude journal. It works because it slowly changes the way we perceive situations by adjusting what we focus on. By recognising all of the wonderful things we have to be appreciative for, we shift the lens from what is lacking to what is present and good. And If we’ve already cultivated a habit of gratitude, we’re more likely to continue that habit, even if we find ourselves in a time of crisis.
“Gratitude is a radical form of self-care.”
Perhaps the thing we forget most when thinking about self-care is play. We spend so much time trying to be the perfect employee, mother, student, partner, business owner, that we forget the joys that come from play. One mum I spoke to said she tries to incorporate play into her routine, which usually includes her kids.
“Do silly things that ‘adults’ don’t do. The other day we bought a long roll of bubble wrap that we laid flat in our hallway from the master bedroom to my son's room and all took turns running on it, jumping on it and crawling on it. The popping of the bubbles was so fun and satisfying and it was just silly times with the kids. Watching comedies together too, laughing and having fun with them is what helps me with stress or a hard day. That’s something I do just for me and it feels great.”
And the truth is, when we make space for self-care we’re not only happier, more functional human beings, but we’re better situated to excel in our careers, be more attentive mothers, friends, and partners.