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Self Care Beyond the Basics for Mothers

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Here is a little mom math for you 2+4=0  giphy
As in I finally got to bed at two o’clock in the morning and was woken right back up again at four o’clock that same morning; equaling only two hours of sleep and zero motivation. 
To quote the ever lovable Linda Belcher, “Nonsense…or Momsense?”

The thing is, I don’t mind so much anymore. Sure it’s not ideal, I would much rather have a full night of sleep. However, I like to think that I have found a way to turn this madness into a proactive, organized-chaos accompanied by a messy hair-do and the occasional nap. What’s my secret? I take time to feed my mind and my emotions. Time to care for my mental health, relive emotional stress and build myself up again after all the breakdowns.
Now, most of you have probably heard of the importance of catching some shut-eye any chance you get, but how many of you know the importance of self-care beyond the basic, like sleep? I’m talking about mental and emotional care.

Sometimes you find yourself up at midnight dying to take care of those last few chores, watch one more episode of Fixer Upper, or sneak an extra piece of banana bread while everyone else is sleeping. Ahhhh! The Amazing Adventures of Momming at Midnight!

The truth is that as much as we need sleep, we also need time for ourselves, even if this means we sacrifice a few Z’s. Without this eventually even sleeping itself becomes a chore. Something else we must do instead of something we enjoy doing. At least for me that is. I noticed I begin to resent the idea of rushing to bed on time, only to wake up feeling more restless than before and ultimately even less motivated to get things done. As if choosing to sleep instead of taking advantage of some sudden me-time was causing stress in itself.

When to know that enough is enough.
A lot of the time I lean on Christ to remind me of times when I have fallen short of being my best self, however I understand that not all of you may be believers, so here are some signs that may indicate it’s time to take a break and hit refresh:

Signs You that Need to Hit Your Refresh Button

~ Stressing over the spilt milk

~ You’ve noticed you are nit-picking things that aren’t usually a bother to you

~ Feeling like you are letting everyone down
~ You can’t seem to keep up with your usual routine
~ Constant thoughts of self-doubt and negative self image
~ Feelings of emptiness or void that aren’t being filled in a healthy manner

~ Social life is non-existent (Even us introverts need this sometimes)

~ Reluctant to try new things

~ Anxiety over being flexible
~ Bored with your day to day activities
~ Spend more time daydreaming than being apart of reality 

Whoa… let’s pause for a moment
I want to be very clear about one thing. Women who feel overwhelmed and choose to sleep in order to escape their reality or stress factors need to know that self care for you would ideally start with seeking help for your situation. Contact your doctor, reach out to a friend or trusted family member and most importantly… get your hormone levels checked. During pregnancy, after giving birth and even when trying to conceive (TTC) your hormones are being adjusted and shifted… really it feels like a game of Hungry Hungry Hippo were your hormones are the marbles being thrown about and you’re one of the Hungry Hippos trying to gather as much of them as you can before insanity takes them away. sd
As a fellow mother struggling to overcome Postpartum Depression and anxiety (PPD) I can tell you its not enough to throw on a face mask and drown your emotions in a tub of ice cream, or bottle of wine. Hormonal imbalance is much more complicated than that. As well, seeking help is not a sign of weakness, nor is admitting you may not be able to battle it on your own. In reality it takes great strength to face your issues head on, with determination to recover. It took me three years to come to terms with my situation, but now that I have I can say that moving forward has become so much easier and blessing to not only myself but my children as well.

Now back to our original topic…
Self care beyond the basics. You need to keep in mind we aren’t talking about materialistic gain or empty compliments from a few strangers on Facebook. Real self care beyond healthy living habits (eating, sleeping and living well) is putting your mind at ease by feeding your brain and calming your thoughts or emotions.

This means you need to consider taking time to tend to that chore that’s been driving you nuts, be it remodeling the laundry room or dusting the baseboards. Read a favorite book you haven’t picked up in years or try something new. Something a little out of your comfort zone, just enough to make you feel alive again.
Be reasonable with your choices.
If you can’t see yourself wanting to do it tomorrow, don’t plan for it. You aren’t trying to create a list full of “Oh yeah… I forgot about that…” tasks. This is suppose to be something you are currently dying to do but otherwise would put off until later. Ultimately a big part of self care for a mother means finding ways to hit your own refresh button.
Let me repeat that word, refresh. I can’t tell you how many times I have noticed something triggered my own refresh button, leaving me with the feeling that I could take on anything life threw at me.
Here is a short list of my very own favorite ways to hit refresh:
 – Writing
Even if I am really just setting a reminder for myself in my iPhone Notes app, I try to get about a paragraph out and onto the page.
– Weekly Bible Journal
I found out that if I set a goal for the week I am more apt to follow through with it versus trying to think of it as daily devotional time. Basically, I trick myself into reading daily by thinking of it as a weekly progress instead of a daily task.
– Library Visits
It doesn’t matter if I have ten books already on my bookshelf, as soon as I walk through those library doors I can feel the world melt away. Bonus, my kids love it too! We grab something new, exiting and we didn’t even spend a dime!
– Reaching Out
This one is easier said than done. Especially for us introverts. Honestly though, the moment that conversation starts I can feel the pressure from all my stress lift from my shoulders. Plus, I just might be helping them as well… so big bonus!
– Get Outside
I cannot tell you how many times I have forced myself to step out the darn front door and immediately thought, “Wow, this feels nice.” It shouldn’t be an all day event, a grocery shopping spree or anything you would consider an energy draining task, remember the idea is to REFRESH not drain yourself.
I hope you find some ways to care for your mind and free your emotional stress, be sure to note what you’re doing, thinking, seeing, etc. when you catch yourself feeling at ease so that you can come back later when things aren’t going so smoothly. Little posted notes and reminders on your phone can be a life saving resource!
Good luck Mamas and God bless!!
If your looking for more information visit the links below on Mental and Emotional Health and how to achieve:
5 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Emotionally
The Mommy Shame
Mental Health: Keeping Your Emotional Health
Let’s talk about…Me time, what me time?
The Importance of Not Being Mom
How I changed my life and started to be a happy mom
Real Talk – Anxiety and OCD