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  • Writer's pictureChristina Rhyser

How to PAUSE for self-care

a hand holding a stopwatch


Dear Christy,


Not to be rude but... I can't even use the toilet without my kids banging down the door, and now you want me to "pause for self-care"?! Sorry, but that seems kind of impossible right now. I lost my right to self-care the day I gave birth and I'll get it back the day my kids move out. Isn't that the way motherhood works? Unless you can tell me how - the idea sounds great, but I just don't think it's realistic for me right now.


Sorry.

Jen


 

Dear Jen,


I totally hear you, and many other parents echo your feelings too. We are so often taught that self-martyrdom is required for successful parenting, so it makes sense that we accept the idea as truth.


This idea was challenged for me one day when I realized that I don't actually want the same thing for my own kids. I encourage them to love themselves, to pursue their dreams, and to create a healthy, happy life - but I would never tell them that all of that stops if they choose to start a family one day. So why do I believe that MY own happiness, health and fulfillment should be set aside? Aside from that, the human truth is that we cannot pour from an empty cup. So even if we choose to give up everything for our family (and that is our prerogative to do so without judgments) - we all have limits, and self-care is one important way to replenish ourselves and avoid burnout.


Here is a short article listing many great ways to pause for self-care. Even if it's only for a short time every day, I encourage you to choose a few practices that nurture your own physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Being a healthy person (body, heart, mind and soul) is the best way to be a healthy parent!


What do you think? Could you choose to make a few of these practices a part of your daily routine? Let me know if/how your mood and energy levels improve after a week or two!


Christy


 

SELF-CARE


Only when you are thriving as your best SELF, can you also thrive as the best parent (and partner, friend and person) that you're meant to be. That is why physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self-care are so vitally important for all of us.


In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore various ways to care for each aspect of ourselves, offering practical tips and strategies for fostering holistic well-being.


Physical Self-Care

  1. Prioritize Sleep: This is often easier said than done for parents with young children, but the need for good sleep cannot be underestimated. If possible, ask someone else to take the night-shift at least once each week so you can sleep without interruptions.

  2. Nourish Your Body: Fuel your body with nutritious foods that provide the energy and nutrients it needs to thrive. Focus on incorporating a variety of unprocessed foods including plenty of fruits, vegetables, protein and healthy fat.

  3. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and support your body's vital functions. Limit caffeinated, sugary and alcoholic beverages as much as you can.

  4. Move Your Body: Engage in regular physical activity that you enjoy, whether it's walking, jogging, yoga, dancing, or playing sports. Find activities that make you feel good and incorporate them into your daily routine.

  5. Practice Body Awareness: Take time to listen to your body and honor its needs. Pay attention to any signs of tension, discomfort, or pain, and take steps to address them through stretching, massage, or a visit to your health care provider.


Emotional Self-Care

  1. Express Yourself: Find healthy outlets for expressing your emotions, whether it's through journaling, art, music, or talking with a trusted friend or therapist. Allow yourself to feel and process your emotions without judgment or suppression.

  2. Set Boundaries: Learn to assertively communicate your needs and boundaries with others, and prioritize activities and relationships that bring you joy and fulfillment. Saying no when necessary is an act of self-care.

  3. Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind and gentle with yourself, especially during times of difficulty or struggle. Treat yourself with the same compassion and understanding that you wish others would extend to you.

  4. Engage in Activities that Bring You Joy: Make time for activities that nourish your soul and bring you happiness, whether it's spending time in nature, reading a good book, cooking a delicious meal, or practicing a hobby you love.

  5. Seek Support: Reach out for support from friends, family, or mental health professionals when needed. Building a strong support network can provide valuable encouragement, validation, and perspective during challenging times.


Mental Self-Care

  1. Practice Mindfulness: Cultivate present-moment awareness through mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or mindful movement. These practices can help calm the mind, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being.

  2. Limit Screen Time: Take breaks from screens and digital devices to give your mind a rest and prevent sensory overload. Set boundaries around screen time and prioritize activities that promote mental clarity and relaxation.

  3. Engage in Lifelong Learning: Stimulate your mind by engaging in activities that challenge and inspire you, whether it's reading, taking classes, learning a new skill, or pursuing a hobby.

  4. Manage Stress: Develop healthy coping strategies for managing stress, such as practicing relaxation techniques, prioritizing tasks, delegating responsibilities, and seeking support when needed.

  5. Reflect and Contemplate: Take time for introspection and self-reflection, whether it's through journaling, quiet contemplation, or spiritual practices. Reflect on your values, beliefs, and purpose in life, and align your actions with what matters most to you.


Spiritual Self-Care

  1. Connect with Nature: Spend time outdoors connecting with the natural world. Whether it's taking a walk in the park, gardening, or stargazing, nature has a way of nourishing the soul and providing a sense of peace and awe.

  2. Nurture Your Spirituality: Explore practices that nourish your spiritual well-being, whether it's prayer, meditation, yoga, or attending religious or spiritual gatherings. Find what resonates with you and incorporate it into your daily life.

  3. Practice Compassion and Kindness: Cultivate compassion and kindness towards yourself and others. Offer acts of kindness and generosity without expecting anything in return, and notice how it uplifts your spirit and strengthens your connection to others.

  4. Cultivate Gratitude: Practice gratitude regularly by reflecting on the things you're thankful for in your life. Keeping a gratitude journal or simply taking a few moments each day to acknowledge your blessings can help shift your perspective and foster a sense of contentment and well-being.

  5. Find Meaning and Purpose: Explore activities and pursuits that bring a sense of meaning and purpose to your life. Engage in activities that align with your values and contribute to the greater good, whether it's volunteering, mentoring, or pursuing a passion project.


CONCLUSION:

Self-care is a multifaceted practice that encompasses nurturing every aspect of ourselves—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. By prioritizing self-care in our daily lives, we cultivate resilience, balance, and inner peace, allowing us to keep burnout at bay while thriving in all areas of our lives. So take the time to care for yourself - body, mind, heart and soul - and watch as you blossom into the best version of yourself as a person and as a parent.


 

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