5 Self-Care Solutions
May is the month we celebrate motherhood. I know, technically it is one day (May 13th in the U.S. this year) but I like to stretch these things out to the entire month. Because motherhood is hard and we need beaucoup d’ appreciation!
One of the big lessons I learned in my cancer journey is that as a mother, I wasn’t taking enough time for myself when I was at my wits’ end and really needed a break. What I learned the very hard way, is that your body has a way of getting what it needs.
Body to Laren: Not enough self-care, Laren!
Laren to Body: Later! Too busy.
Body to Laren: Okay, how about we do four years where self-care is literally the only thing to be done. Starting NOW.
Maybe for you it wasn’t four years treating and recovering from two back-to-back cancers like it was for me. Maybe you just get flattened with every illness that goes around. Maybe you are so stressed that you are mentally barely keeping it together. Self-care is what you need, my friend. Chronic stress compromises our immune systems and we then get sick.
As I mentioned, the importance of self-care was one of my big cancer lessons and one I wrote about in my book, WTF?! I Have Cancer? Being a type A, over-achiever, who gained her self-worth from her level of productivity, I have been challenged by putting myself first and making my self-care a priority. Aside from eating healthfully and exercising which I did have down, I tended to squeeze in taking care of the other aspects of health—my min and spirit—in the leftover bits of time after everyone and everything else was taken care of. Sound familiar?
This is epidemic in the United States. We often work 60+ hours a week and don’t use our vacation time (if we even get it). But a little R&R has been shown to be vitally important for staying healthy. If we push our bodies and minds to the limit, they have a tendency to force us to rest by getting sick.
If we manage to get some time to relax and rejuvenate, we are better able to go with the flow, and thus we are better mothers, partners, employees, and bosses. Yet, here’s what I hear from my female friends, “Sounds great but who has time for that?”
Well, here are my 5 suggested ways to make it happen:
- Make requests. I know you take care of your kids best and no one cleans or folds the laundry as well as you do. But if you’re trying to carve out an hour or two these household tasks are good places to look. Ask your spouse or partner (if you have one) for help. If no spouse, ask for help from friends and family. No more martyrs!
- Plan it. Book the girls getaway, the movie date, the yoga class. One thing that I noticed was that my husband was great at planning his self-care. He informed me of when he would be off wind-surfing/hunting/mountain biking. It was expected that I would accommodate it. I usually didn’t have a problem with that, I wanted him to have down time. I just didn’t feel as comfortable scheduling mine.
- Own how hard you work. Sometimes, women in particular downplay the insane juggle that is working motherhood. I was juggling at least eight different roles and was exhausted most of the time. You work hard and DESERVE A BREAK!
- Make a date with yourself. Once, when I shared with a friend that I blew off self-care for other more important events, she asked me, “Would you blow off a date with your best friend? You need to be your own best friend”. Good point!
- Get that it’s important. Our bodies go through herculean efforts to keep “all systems go” when we are often abusing them on a daily basis. Do you feed your body the fuel it truly needs? Do you get enough sleep? This is a recipe for disaster and I hope it doesn’t turn out for you as it did for me.
Share in the comments below which of these you will take on this week. And to all of the mothers out there, Happy Mother’s Day! Enjoy some appreciation for your hard, and very meaningful, work.