This summer, I’m making myself a priority, and that starts for me through self-care.
Despite how necessary I know it is to take care of myself mentally, physically, and emotionally, it’s not always easy. Self-care as a mom of three and a full-time college student with two part-time jobs can be a bit daunting. I’m not going to lie, there are times it feels nearly impossible. However, I know the obstacles are important to overcome – I recently learned through therapy that if I don’t take care of myself, not only will I not feel my best, I’ll be lagging in the health and energy needed to take care of others.
So, before the busyness of the school year returns, I’m working to create habits that will help me feel my best, with an extra emphasis on spending time outside, getting fresh air, and enjoying the sunshine, and I invite you to join me! To get started, here are some simple tips we could all benefit from:
Prioritize your sleep.
Like many others, I often find good sleep difficult to achieve, and more often than not, sleep is put on the back burner. Recently though, I learned more about the vast benefits of good sleep, and it completely changed how I prioritized it. Getting plenty of sleep was a life changer; I was more alert during the day to transition through tasks smoothly and felt less crabby. If you’re struggling to fall or stay asleep, I encourage you to ensure that you’re getting in adequate activity during the day, putting your phone and other electronics down before bedtime, and if the troubles persist, consider seeing a professional.
Get plenty of sunshine, and take mini walks.
Working remotely through the pandemic for the past almost two years and a half and being in front of the computer for my classes and work meetings most of the day affected my mood heavily. I felt like a recluse and began to experience deeper feelings of depression. My kids and I would find ourselves bickering over the silliest things. Eventually, I talked to my therapist about feeling blue and more tired than ever. She explained that taking short walks around the block and getting some sunshine while getting my heart rate up would increase my serotonin levels which help with anxiety and depression, while also helping my circadian rhythm. Getting plenty of sunlight during the day not only helped my mood while awake but helped my sleep patterns improve as well.
Exercise not only for your physical health but for your mental health as well.
In addition to my mini walks around the block, more consistent exercise became a part of self-care for me. I suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression, and my therapist explained that exercising could positively impact depression, anxiety, ADHD, and PTSD. Connecting and listening to my body has helped me relax and feel more at peace when I feel more tense, tight, or stiff. I focus on the area I think holds the most stress and how my body feels with the exercise. I mindfully connect to my body and bring awareness to the “problem” areas, slowly easing the discomfort. Exercise is now benefiting me not only physically, but mentally as well.
Plan activities to look forward to that fit into your schedule and lifestyle.
My everyday life involves a ton of driving with drop-offs and pick-ups from school and activities for my kids, not including my regular classes and work tasks. I can easily get sucked up into a routine vortex and forget what’s out in the world. While creating a more consistent self-care routine over the years, I also knew for it to be sustainable, I had to find a way to incorporate my kids into it. So, I often look up local activities that we can have day trips to. Considering my schedule, I pre-plan around long weekends, holidays, and breaks off from school. It eases stress and maximizes the experience because I build up that anticipation and mindfully put positive energy toward that break, and then I’m able to disconnect from the hecticness of the day-to-day and enjoy time with my loved ones.
Do something small that brings you joy each day.
Simple enough. I love coffee, reading a good book, taking a bubble bath, having pizza on Fridays for dinner, and cuddling with my minions. Self-care looks and feels different for all of us, but the easiest and simplest way to think of self-care is finding the smaller things that bring joy because many of the smaller things are the ones that make our lives whole. What brings you joy? Do more of those things, maybe not all at once, but make a list, plan and start slowly; trust me, anything that brings you to that candid, innocent, joyous moment will make you feel wholesome.