Are you taking enough time out of your day for some much needed (and well deserved) self care?
Although being a parent can be the most rewarding and exciting part of your life, it can be very challenging and exhausting at the same time, especially if you're juggling work and kids. That's why it's important to check in with ourselves on the regular with a bit of self care every now and then.
Sarah Romotsky, Director of Healthcare at Headspace, works to help people live a healthier, happier, more well-rested life. Here she shares some of her expert advice for mums on how to take care and prioritise yourself by taking some time to look after your mental wellbeing.
1) Be kind to yourself
So often we beat ourselves up over what we haven’t done rather than congratulating ourselves on what we have achieved. Remember to practise self-compassion and forgiveness, even on those days you feel like nothing is going right: when you’ve slept badly, the washing hasn’t been done and the dishes are piling up.
Meditation shows us how to be less reactive to fleeting emotions and instead to respond from a place of clarity. Headspace specifically has been shown to reduce emotional reactivity and negative emotions.
Silence your inner critic and refocus your thoughts on all the positive steps you have taken. One or two small acts of kindness for yourself can make such a big difference to your mood.
It is so important to spend some time outside each day even if it’s just a quick walk around the block, to your local high street or local park. The fresh air on your face and a change of scenery can do you a world of good and is hugely beneficial.
Walking has been proven effective in reducing anxiety and depression, and there is further evidence that walking in nature improves those results even further. That’s because different parts of our brain activate in nature. Our mind calms, leading to physical changes including a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure.
It can be difficult especially for parents of young children to get out of the house each day, but so important for the whole family’s wellbeing. By being present and taking in the sights, sounds and smells around us, we can give our mind some respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Parents prioritise their kids and family over everything. Nurturing and caring for our loved ones is a positive and rewarding part of life, but it is also important to set aside time for yourself to enjoy something you love, whether that’s exercising, reading a book or going to your favourite café for a treat and hot drink.
It is important to continue to invest in yourself and make sure you are still on your priority list.
As Prince William said when Prince Harry became a dad: “welcome to the sleep deprivation society that is parenting”. Parents often struggle to get the recommended eight hours of sleep; however, it is important to take steps to improve the quality of your sleep.
Getting quality sleep is important for your health: it strengthens your immune system, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and lowers your risk for serious health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Nursing mothers bear the brunt of this sleep deprivation. Make sure you rest throughout the day and nap when the baby naps.
Meditation can be a good addition to your wind down routine. It allows your body to relax and the mind drift off – letting go of tensions and racing thoughts. Let go, feel yourself sink into the mattress, relax and allow yourself to fall into a restful sleep.
5) Acknowledge it is ok to be alone
When you have a newborn, it can be a big adjustment going from a busy work and social schedule to being at home most of the time with your little one. It can feel like your world has become very small and that you are alone and forgotten, and these feelings of loneliness and isolation can have a negative impact on mental health.
Just as it's very important that your baby gets all their nutrients as they grow, it's important you do too! Not only does your body need to recover from giving birth, but you also need plenty of energy to keep up with your little one! And one of the best ways to do that is by feeding your body all the nutritious and healthy foods it needs to thrive.
While the cooking process may seem long and time-consuming, cooking can be a great activity to improve mental health and get your mind off parenting for bit (espcially if you enjoy it). Best of all you'll have a delicious creation for you and your family to enjoy after!
Self care ideas from the mums on our #mumtribe Facebook group
Andie Langridge says: 'I love to get my toddler involved in my daily workout and yoga! I also try and get her in bed by 7:30 to give me a bit of time to have a bath and relax.'
Kay Gutteridge says: 'I walk every morning around the local reservoir with my baby. Getting out is so good for my mental health! I also love to have a lovely hot bath with nice bath products in the evening once my baby has gone to bed.'
To address feelings of loneliness, it’s healthy to get to a point where we feel OK on our own. Stepping out of the mind through meditation is a powerful antidote to loneliness. It enables us to become more present in our feelings, making the crucial distinction that being alone and feeling alone are two very different things. Over time, we can become more comfortable with feelings of loneliness and these meditation sessions can take as little as three minutes each day.
Let us know if you've tried meditation or any of the other tips on Facebook or Twitter and don't forget to tune into our live meditation sessions every Wednesday at 8pm on our Instagram.
Have something you want to ask that we haven’t answered here? We want to know what you’re going through, what your experience is, what your concerns are - post now in mumtribe where we, or one of our thousands of mum members, will be able to help! You are not alone! We are #onemum. We are #mumtribe.
Lorna is the digital executive and regular contributor for Mother&Baby. After running the Yours magazine website which specialises in content about caring for kids and grandchildren, she has now brought her expertise to the UK's #1 leading pregnancy and parenting magazine. Lorna specialises on a range of topics from potty training and nutrition, to everything and anything that will keep your tot occupied!
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