Below is the podcast version of this blog post (with lots more stories!). To subscribe to the podcast, just open your favorite podcast app and type “Balanced Working Moms” in the search or click here for iTunes.
Things Are Tough
I am so frazzled right now.
I know I’m not alone. There’s a pandemic that’s going on and on. It feels never-ending and so many parts of our lives have been impacted. Things are hard.
During this time, Self-care has never been more important.
You know this intellectually – you need to take care of yourself so you can take care of everyone else.
But the question is — how???
How can you possibly spend time on self-care when the world is in disarray?
My goal of this post today is to leave you feeling hopeful. If you feel discouraged and cranky (and who doesn’t right now), when you’re done reading, I want you to feel hopeful. Even a tiny bit more hopeful. So you know that you CAN make things better. You can be happier, a bit more centered. and grounded.
Let’s talk about how to do this.
I have a free printable to remind you to rest! You can print the printable, frame it, or keep it somewhere where it’ll inspire you! The image below shows just one of the handful of designs in the file! There are a bunch so you can pick what works for you, depending on your taste. I hope you enjoy — and that it reminds you to take it easy!! (For access to the printable and the whole library of free resources, click here.)
We’re Not Doing So Well
Yesterday a friend of mine stopped over for a social distance visit outside and I noticed she didn’t seem right.
She’s not alone. Studies report that more than a third of Americans now are feeling depression and anxiety.
Her story inspired me to do this blog post today.
If you’re feeling like you’re not in a great place now, and I’m not talking about clinical issues — please see a mental health professional for that, but if you’re feeling general blahs, let’s talk about how self-care can help.
What is Self-Care
First, if you haven’t yet listened to episode #10, This is what Self-Care really is, please listen to it after hearing this episode.
So many people THINK they know what self-care is. They think it’s about doing extra special things to take care of themselves, like manicures, spa days, etc.
But true self-care is actually the little things you do each and every day to stay healthy in all parts of your life.
Let me give you an example. Self-care could include:
- taking a walk a few times a week so you feel centered and more positive
- Sleeping in so you don’t always feel so tired
- Drinking water throughout the day so you feel more energized
- Chatting with a friend over zoom
- Cleaning our house so it feels calm and peaceful for you (bet that one surprised you!)
Self-care is doing what’s good for you in the long-term. To take care of all parts of you. So that’s why cleaning, decluttering, can actually be a form of self-care.
It nourishes you so you feel good.
Lots of people confuse self-care with a treat. A treat could be
- Enjoying a bowl of ice cream
- Buying yourself something fun off of etsy
- Playing a game on your phone.
The difference between a treat and self-care is that treats are great when done occasionally to add a little extra smile to your day.
But they don’t help in the long-term and they can be detrimental if they’re used as a substitute for self-care.
Why is self-care especially important right now? Why is it even more important than usual?
When you don’t have time or patience (or even want to do self-care), that’s when you need to do it the most.
I learned from a zen quote.
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.”
Right now, if you’re like many of us, you need self-care the MOST! But you also have very little time for it.
You may be like me and working full time and also have kids. So you’re juggling everything.
You may be EXHAUSTED from it all so you put self-care aside since who has time for walks when the kids need to be on ZOOM and the house is permanently wrecked since the kids never leave it?
Now that you don’t have the time for it, is when you need it THE MOST.
How Can You Find The Time?
You know you need to do self-care, but especially now when life is crazy, how on earth are you going to find time to fit it in?
Tip #1: Tweak Your Routine
My Number 1 Tip is to stick with your old routine, but tweak it so it works better during this time. You may have 2,000,000 million reasons why you can’t stick to your former routine, and they’re all legit.
But if you think your routine is down the toilet because the kids are home, perhaps you can find a creative way.
Example – My Exercise Routine (pre-pandemic)
Before life hit the fan, I used to do yoga very early in the morning before work, and I also walked at lunchtime.
However, these days, I’m more tired than usual because . . . well, there’s a pandemic going on so things are challenging. My old routine of doing yoga early in the morning is rough because I’m so tired.
I also find it challenging to walk at lunchtime because instead of being in school or camp, I have kids who need me and need to be fed.
My walking environment is different, too. At work, I used to walk indoors a lot since it was a huge complex and plenty of areas to wander around. However, my house is not exactly a mansion so walking around it wouldn’t work. Also, the weather can be awful in Maryland. Hot, hazy, humid. It’s like walking in an oven.
Between being exhausted for yoga and the challenge of walking at lunchtime, you’d think I’d give up.
Nope. Instead I took my old routine and modified it.
Example – My Modified Routine (During pandemic)
For yoga, I now do Yoga videos that include titles like “Yoga for Tired Mornings,” “Yoga for Fatigue,” or my favorite “Yoga for Absolute Beginners.” Doesn’t matter that I’ve been doing yoga regularly for a dozen years. I do the easiest yoga I can so that I can do it even when I’m exhausted. I just tweaked my routine from intermediate yoga to the easiest yoga ever. I’m still exercising and getting the benefits, but I’m not adding to my exhaustion.
For me, yoga is less about my body and more about staying CALMm which I need a lot of extra of these days.
Interestingly, with this approach, I’m actually getting more yoga done, which is good since I need more calm now than ever.
It’s about doing it imperfectly and still enjoying it.
But what about my walking routine? That seemed even more challenging.
Do I give up and resign myself to no walking?
NO WAY. I just adjusted my usual routine, just like with the yoga.
If I can’t get out of the house, I’ll do an indoor dance exercise video. The advantage is that sometimes my kids join me and that’s super fun.
Also, I adjust how long I walk for. If I can’t get in my full lunchtime, instead of giving up, I’ll do an indoor video for 10 or 15 minutes. And that helps me tame the crazy.
So you see how I can stick my usual routine and just tweak it?
And it’s so important to do this since I need those walks and the yoga more than I even needed them before. Trust me. So fitting them in despite the challenge feels really great.
Tip #2: Do Your Self-care with your Kids
My next tip for you is to do your self-care with your kids or other family members.
One of my daughter’s created a routine where she likes to listen to audiobooks before bed. So she sits and doodles while she listens.
I join her during this time and do my journaling while she doodles. It feels wonderful. The one-on-one time is so nourishing. And she doesn’t interrupt me every 5 seconds because she’s got the book going!
I have friends who are using this challenging time to take walks with their spouses in the evening.
Whatever you can do to incorporate your family into your self-care helps get it done!! Especially in challenging times.
Tip #3: Arrange Get Togethers with Friends
My third tip is to arrange get together with friends. If nothing else, this pandemic has taught us how important social interactions are.
There’s a ton of research that shows how important it is to get the support of others. And as a stressed Mom, you need the support more than ever.
Below is an article in the New York times that sites study after study showing that social interactions are important not just for mental health, but for physical health, too.
Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported that “Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.”
So now, when self-care is more important than ever, I’d love for you to figure out ways to interact with your friends.
I’ve been scheduling zoom calls with friends. I also have them come over for social distance visits.
I need the support, and so do you. This is what we’re missing during this time. And we need our friends to encourage us and remind us that we’re NOT crazy. And support us.
Self-Care is Even More Important Now
Event hough self-care is harder to do now than ever, it’s also more important than ever.
Take care of yourself. If no one else is telling you this right now, I’m glad you tuned in so I could gently remind you that you need to take care of yourself now more than ever.
Do things to nourish and take care of yourself so you emerge from this time even stronger.
So much love to you!