I was lucky enough to write a guest post for My Mindful Year about creating and implementing a Self Care Strategy. The brains and the beauty behind the worlds first ‘Pliary’ is not only a fellow Mum, but she is passionate about making a difference to others, and she does this beautifully through her Pliary. It was an absolute pleasure to share my knowledge with her audience. Check out what I had to say below.
Finding time for ourselves can be such an overwhelming task, and when you actually sit down and look at where your time is mostly spent, it can come as quite a shock to learn that for most of us, trying to find even an hour a week seems impossible. If there is one thing that I have learned through my journey with Postnatal Depression and Anxiety, it’s that prioritising your health and wellness filters down to every aspect of your life. If you value your health and wellbeing, then others will too!
Without a solid self-care strategy, then it all slowly comes undone, and I’ve been there before, and trust me it’s not where you want to be either.
When our needs are not being met, we begin to show signs of burnout. The tricky part is recognising which of our needs are not being met.
So how do you identify what truly fills your cup up?
This can be different for everyone, so don’t fall into the trap of doing things that you think you “should” be doing, instead of the things you “want” to do. If vegging out on the couch binge watching Netflix every so often makes you happy then go and do that!
My number one tip to get started is to carve out time to sit down quietly and make notes of all the things that you love to do. Not only does this help you explore what makes you happy, it also allows you to form a “go-to” list of things that you can start to weave into your daily routine, so that when you’re faced with a day of chaos, and you can’t get to the gym or the babysitter has cancelled then you have a list of options that you can turn too.
As a Mum of two toddlers and living with PND, self-care has to be my priority. During my recovery, I spent a lot of time evaluating what and who are important to me and what fills my cup. This helped to create my own self-care routine, that is flexible and sustainable. I have also developed a self-care guide for busy Mums which you can download below.
My Self-Care Strategy:
- Health Care: Regular chiropractic visits to keep my spine aligned and allow my central nervous system to function optimally. (I understand that Chiropractic care is not for everyone).
- Sleep: Sleep deprivation has a huge impact on me when I look back at all of my issues with mental health and PND, it can literally be traced back to not getting enough sleep. So I know that I can’t negotiate on this. I make an effort to get to bed early most nights, I leave from night outs early If I have to and I have help from my family when my toddlers aren’t sleeping well.
- Exercise: Find an exercise that I enjoy. Exercise is not normally something I enjoy a lot (or a little), however, I know how critical this is to my self-care and mental health. So, instead of forcing myself to do intense gym sessions, or join a running club I experiment with slower forms of exercise and try to incorporate some incidental exercise into my day. I have recently taken up Barre classes, I do Yoga and I walk the boys to child care. That’s enough for me, and I don’t feel guilty about not hitting the gym.
- Plan: I know that I get sick at roughly the same time each year, with a terrible chest infection and sinus, so this year I am trialling ramping up my chiro visits, being super mindful of my diet and scaling back on work etc during this time of year to compensate for the fact that I’m likely to get sick. I also like to plan on a big calendar any event etc that we have coming up that I think might trigger any anxiety for me. For example, organising birthdays, or Xmas etc is quite stressful for me, and I have repeatedly fallen in a heap during these times when all the planning has fallen on me. So, I now have a process to make sure that the people around me are clear on what they need to do to help.
- Help: I have my husband on board, and he understands that these things are important to me and he will honour the time I need to achieve these things and will help to share the load of domestic duties to ensure I can maintain self-care. As I do for him. I don’t think we can underestimate the importance of help from a support network when it comes to managing our self-care, particularly around children.
What has PND and Motherhood taught me about Self-Care?
Experience has taught me that self-care is not about taking an hour out here and there to go and have a bubble bath. It’s deeper than that. It’s about building emotional intelligence, and building your tribe – the support network around you, that will be there for you unconditionally, and letting go of control.
Being honest with yourself and letting go of some of the mum guilt. I don’t think the guilt ever disappears, it’s always there in some form, like a badge of honour gifted to us from past generations of mothers. I think it’s built into our DNA, our genetic makeup as women, as mothers.
Recognising that all feelings are OK, (even guilt) and labeling these feelings… this is what I have explored in depth during my counseling sessions. I wasn’t expecting to feel so liberated when I actually stopped and acknowledged my feelings, no matter how irrational they can be, just acknowledging and labeling them…. then moving on. It’s how we behave that is important. This reverberates through the whole family.
Self-care is unique for everyone, and it’s important to identify healthy strategies versus detrimental forms (such as substance use, procrastination, self-harm, or isolation).
Start by slowly incorporating small ways of enhancing your well-being into your daily life, so that it feels more natural to do something just for yourself, rather than adding another chore to your overflowing to-do list.
If you would like help achieving your wellness goals, then take advantage of my 1 hour completely free, clarity call where you get to chat about what it is you want to achieve and if we are the right fit for each other.