I’m a big advocate for self-care. I think it’s essential for being your best self and staying physically and mentally healthy. In case you don’t know what self- care is, PsychCentral says it’s “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” They go on to say “Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.” Self care is something that refuels us. It should be something we enjoy doing and get pleasure from.
Before I became a mom I needed self-care to keep myself in a positive mindset and from burning out. Especially while traveling, I often felt out of my comfort zone (as you should) and if I didn’t take the time to take care of myself, I would get in an awful funk and waste days of my adventures feeling blah. Now that I’m a mom I need self-care possibly even more. I give so much of myself to my little guy (as you should) that I burn out and get to the point where I’m not my best self in any facet of my life.
While I am a big believer in self-care, I don’t do so well at fitting it into my schedule. When I do something, I start out very strong. I put my whole self into it. This can be a good thing but after a few weeks I am unable to keep going at that pace. Whether it’s travel, starting a big writing project, or being a mom I neglect most other things in life to devote myself to whatever I’m doing. I don’t have any balance and it ends up hurting me and whatever it is I’m invested in.
I really want to get back into it and I thought I’d put my research and new knowledge into a post to pass along the wealth and keep someone else from making the same mistakes I’ve made when it comes to my mental health.
The Importance of Self- Care:
- Prevents “overload burnout”
- Reduces the negative effects of stress
- Helps you refocus
Where to Start:
- Stick to the basics. Try to keep a routine and get a rhythm of these activities going regularly. Then you can avoid the burnout and needing to restart altogether.
- Actively plan something. A Self-care routine can’t be something that just falls into your lap. You need to make a point of doing it. Put it on the schedule and stick to it.
- Be aware. Remind yourself why you’re doing this. Tell yourself you need this time to feel your best and remember this is fun and important to you. Even a self-care activity can be counterproductive if you don’t have the right mindset.
Important Basics Everyone Should Follow:
- Drink plenty of water and nutritious and balanced food. This sounds pretty easy but it’s usually not. Whether you’re a mom or traveling (or both!) it’s easy to get sucked into a lifestyle that’s not very healthy. Being a mom you might forget to drink enough water or actually eat a good meal, instead snacking off of half-eaten plates or just missing a meal altogether. While traveling, you might find yourself indulging in too many sweets or alcohol and not stay balanced like you might at home. Eating and drinking right is the most basic way to take care of yourself, as hard as it might be.
- Give yourself a day to do nothing. Even when you’re traveling, you can’t be going nonstop. Your body and mind need a day to relax and refuel before you begin again. If you’re at home, you can try to have someone else watch the kids or just have a lazy day with them. It doesn’t matter if you get nothing done for one day. You’ll be better prepared to tackle the day tomorrow.
- Take time to be outside. No matter where you are, being outside is good for you. (I mean, not if it’s 115 degrees or something) But being outside has so many mental and physical benefits. The physical effects are obvious in that you’re most likely getting in some exercise while being outside. But the mental effects are even more impressive. In the Stanford study, they saw that those in nature had a less active subgenual prefrontal cortex- or the region of the brain that is active during repetitive thoughts and negative emotions. The study also shows that being in nature dampened anxiety.
- Breathe. This sounds so stupid. You’re like, “yeah, thanks, I normally forget to breath unless Mackenzie tells me to.” But I’m serious. When I start feeling the anxiety building I take a few big, deep breaths. Almost instantly I feel better. After this I realize how shallowly I had been breathing and how much that was impacting my already stressed mood. For my more anxious times, I use the Relax Lite App on my phone. It’s free and it helps me so much. It keeps me from really getting anxious and almost instantly releases the tension.
- Journal. My favorite form of self-care, both on the road and at home, is journaling. I find that journaling helps me because it’s very reflective, allowing me to get inside my own mind and clear out some of the cobwebs and possibly deal with issues that seem to be creeping up on me. On the other hand, journaling forces me to look outside of myself. I want to remember the places I’ve been visiting, or I want to remember those cute little moments with my son. Journalling takes me outside myself to really be in the moment. I am forced to get out of my own head for at least a little while.
Self Care Ideas:
- Read a book
- Take a bath
- Put on makeup
- Wander around back roads
- Unplug from social media
- Visit a museum
- Facetime or meet up with a friend
- Go to the movies
These are just a few self-care ideas. You can come up with anything that makes you feel good, relaxed, and inspired. Whether you’re traveling or at home, the idea is still the same. Keep to a routine and don’t neglect your needs because of the situation you’re in.
Other Self-Care Resources
- Gale from Wanderlust writes a Guide to Self-Care on the Road including her self-care packing list.
- On the Tortuga Backpack’s blog Emily writes a packing list for Self-Care while Traveling. I can for sure get behind those Thick Wool Socks and Noise Cancelling Headphones.
- Jennifer from Simply + Fiercely writes a how-to guide to self-care on the road.
- On Working Mother, Renee tells her favorite self-care practices as a mom
- Suzi at Start a Mom Blog gives Ways to Practice self-care as a busy mom- without feeling guilty.
Need More Help?
Becky from Mommy Takes 5 wrote an ebook about self-care called the Self-Care Journey. The e-book, which costs $20, includes information on self-care as well as a great workbook to help you get started even when you feel lost.
She goes through many Self-Care ideas as well as ways to find your own activities and how to implement them in your life. The second half of the book can either be printed or used as a pdf to write down your experience during this time as well as 30 days of journal-like prompts to reflect back on this journey.
Do you practice self-care? If so, what do you do?
*I received a free copy of the Self-Care Journey. This has not affected my opinion on the what I have written.