What is self-care and why is it super important for Mums?
Are you a busy Mum? Do you find that you are too busy to take care of yourself? Is it something that’s constantly on your to-do list, to look after yourself? We’ve been looking at how important self-care is for Mums and why it’s vital to make time for yourself.
What is self-care?
Self-care is self-strengthening it’s the actions you take to protect, maintain and improve your physical and mental health and wellbeing. It isn’t just one thing like a bubble bath on a Thursday it’s your whole holistic approach to your health and making time for yourself. It’s paying attention to your needs, making sure that you are taking care of yourself and not becoming burnout and exhausted. Self-care helps you manage stress. It’s making time for who you are and who you want to be.
Self-care is giving ourselves time back, to disconnect from the anxieties of the world to switch off mentally from everything that is happening around us. Disconnecting in a very connected tech enabled world. Switching off is good for our mental health so making time to disconnect from social media and from your phone is really important.
A survey in 2018 commissioned by Mental Health Foundation in 2018 found that:
- 74% of people reported to have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.
- 51% of adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed.
- 61% reported feeling anxious.
That’s a lot of stress and overwhelm which as a Mum we seem to accept and take in our stride. Why? Because that’s what we do, don’t we? We just cope and get on with it. It becomes a badge of honour of busyness and stress but it shouldn’t be like that. As Mum’s we are always taking care of other people’s needs and often giving more than we have. This does not help our wellbeing or our physical and mental health and in the long run we could end up burnout and exhausted which means we are no use to anyone!
Why is it so important to have time for self-care?
Having proper time for self-care and understanding what it is and how important it is, is vital for mental health. Self-care and wellbeing fuel us emotionally, physically and mentally. Making time for wellbeing is the last thing on the list for many mothers and as mums we need to prioritise ourselves, rather than being the afterthought at the end of the long list at the end of a long day.
A lack of self-care is directly correlated to our self-worth. A lack of self-care can lead to a lack of self-worth which is linked to many mental health issues including anxiety. We have to believe that we are worthy to look after and we need to love ourselves more to prioritise ourselves. But so much is tied up in whether or not we feel worthy of giving to ourselves and if we are deserving enough. Yes, you are! Giving to ourselves as mums enables us to give back to our children, partners and friends. Wellbeing is not a luxury that we should only give ourselves if we have time or we have been good enough as a reward. Self-care and wellbeing are as vital to the human body as water, food and air are.
Not forgetting that any stress we suffer as a mother can then directly manifest itself in our child. They stress through our stress so even more reason to make sure that we take time to destress.
Is it busyness or guilt that stops you?
Self-care is often perceived by others to be an indulgence. Feeling guilty if we tell our other half that we are going to the gym, to swim, to run, for a walk, sit down with a book and read when they are busy working. We feel that we should be doing the same, we should be busy being productive. Being a Mum is the hardest job in the world and not to be underestimated. Self-care is not to be counted or something to be measured and Mums need time for self-care and refuelling just as much as our partners do. So, the guilt needs to stop!
Good self-care tips for Mums
- Think about what you enjoy doing and make it part of your routine or habit, it could be as easy as making sure you have fresh air and a walk at lunchtime every day. Or time to read but the important thing is to make it a habit and fit in with you. Read our list here.
- Prioritise yourself over your children’s busy schedules. Before the children’s clubs and playdates, you need to put your needs first.
- Self-care is very different for everyone; one person’s self-care is not the same as another.
- Set boundaries that you keep to. If it’s no work past 5pm then put that in place. Don’t be afraid to say no. Maybe it’s not cramming too much in the diary. Be kind to yourself.
- Talk to friends, do they need some time out too? Maybe you could swap children for an afternoon and take it in turns to get a break.
- Ditch the guilt, never ever feel guilty about taking time for yourself.
- Schedule your time in your diary like you would a doctor’s appointment, not to be moved.
- Take time to disconnect with the world and connect with yourself – meditation, yoga, breathing, walking, listening to music. If you struggle with this here are some ways to enjoy being offline.
- Recognise your own limits and know when you need to slow down and don’t be afraid to change something, just because you agreed to something three months ago it doesn’t mean it works for you now.
- Think about your physical health and what it needs. If you need more sleep take it, make the time for you and avoid distractions.
- Look after your diet and fuel your body with food that is healthy and good for you.
- Make time to get to know yourself and your needs better. What stresses you and what makes you happy. What can you change to make it better?
- Lack of time for self-care can lead to increased stress levels and mental health problems so it’s absolutely vital that as a Mum you prioritise yourself. It’ really important to build self-care into your everyday life and routine so that it becomes a habit. It’s something that your future self will thank you for and will lead you to a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life.