Being a mum is hard work – layer on the demands of Christmas and you may feel totally overwhelmed with the never ending ‘to-do’ list in the lead up to the big day. Busy schedules mean that mums are at risk of exhaustion, but when it comes to looking after your own health and wellness, we can actually feel stressed trying to figure out how to fit it in! Consequently, self-care quickly falls by the wayside as you continue with the daily grind.
It’s vital you take some time to nurture yourself – both mentally and physically. But when we are so busy how can we squeeze this into our hectic days? The answer, according to Holistic Health Coach Louise Murray, is to micro-dose on self-care. Just 10 min is all you need to press pause and give your mind a little break.
Even though it may seem like the right thing to do, routinely dismissing your own needs can have an adverse effect on your overall health. It can make you irritable, fatigued, stressed and susceptible to a full-blown burnout. So, in order to save your health (and sanity), make time for self-care!
Here are your five go-to micro self-care tools:
Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. Do not underestimate the power of a deep breath. These precious seconds may be the difference between losing your cool and responding calmly; between feeling overwhelmed and staying focused.
I honestly believe that energy boosting breathwork can be better than caffeine. Use the power of breath to create an incredible feeling of energy, clarity and focus through your body.
If you’re not breathing optimally, you’re robbing yourself of energy. The way you breathe may be causing you to feel tired, fatigued, foggy, and uninspired. This is because proper, controlled breathing ensures an optimal oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange. This is vital for high energy and mental alertness levels. Since oxygen is the breath of life, it’s rocket fuel for the body and mind.
With this exercise, we’re focusing on deep, diaphragmatic breathing. This means we’re not using out chest or upper body to breathe. We are engaging our lower belly as we inhale and exhale. On the inhale, your lower belly should rise outwardly. On the exhale, the lower belly moves inwardly, towards the navel. These movements draw air into the lungs, and not just the upper lungs, as in chest breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing fills every part your lungs, including the lower parts.
Do this simple breathing exercise twice a day or whenever you feel yourself losing steam: Deeply exhale with a whoosh sound; deeply inhale through the nose for 4, hold for 7, exhale through the mouth for 8. Repeat for 4 breaths.
You can integrate breathing into your daily living very easily — you simply have to be conscious of it. When you wake up in the morning, think about it. When you go to sleep at night, think about it. Instead of yelling at a red traffic light to change, focus on your breath. When someone is talking to you and you have no interest in what they are saying, turn your attention to your breathing! When your toddler is driving you mad….you get the jist!
2. Cup of calm
When you start feeling a little overwhelmed, this is a great ‘2-minute’ self-care tool. Mindful meditation doesn’t need to take a long time, just 2 or 3 minutes can be enough to give you a little space to slow down, press pause, re-connect and re-energise for the rest of the day. So if you are feeling a little stressed, just a couple of minutes to practice this ‘cup of calm’ mindful moment.
Make yourself a cup of your favourite warm drink and sit down. Notice three things in this moment – the colour of the drink, the weight of the mug, the feeling of the chair. Then consciously breath into your shoulders, try and relax them down a little and enjoy your cuppa – savouring the flavour. Return gently to the senses whenever you notice the mind straying into thought. Be open to your senses, rather than try to analyse what’s happening.
3. Say no more!
As a mum, you can often feel like you’re pulled in a million different directions trying to please everyone in the family. You might even feel guilty about saying no to certain requests from family members, children or friends. But you shouldn’t! It’s okay to say no sometimes, and to not take on extra work on your plate when you don’t think you can manage t or it will stress you out. Remember to look after yourself as much as you look after others around you, or you could be in danger of burning out.
‘No’ is such a small word yet so hard to say! You can say no and still be a good friend, colleague, sister, person. Sometimes you’ve just got to take care of YOU.
Saying no is empowering. Saying ‘no’ is a massive self-care gift to yourself. Even saying ‘yes’ to things you are ‘meh’ about means you will be out of time and energy for the things you want to give a big fat YES to. So if it’s not a hell yeah – it’s a no. Design your life around the good stuff, make space for that first so that the not so good stuff slowly slips away.
Here are a few ways you can say ‘no’ –
- While my heart wants to say ‘yes’, the reality of what’s on my plate right now makes this a ‘no’ for me at the moment. Thanks for thinking of me.
- I am really touched by your request, and although it’s hard for me to say ‘no’, it is so necessary. I’m grateful that our relationship allows me to be honest about where I am.
- This sounds wonderful and as much as I would love to be involved, I can’t give it the attention it deserves right now. I am cheering for your success!
- No, thank you. (sometimes it can be as simple as that!)
4. Develop an attitude of gratitude
Gratitude is a fantastic little mindset makeover tool and something that you can practice throughout the day as you go, so it doesn’t add anything extra to your ever-mounting ‘to do’ list. Just try and slow down just a fraction, just enough to briefly ‘press pause’ and just try and be in the moment of whatever you are experiencing and mentally note down what you are grateful for in that moment.
5. Thought shake
Do you sometimes need a thought shake? If you are feeling a bit low or a bit flat, seek positive inspiration from others. It helps to shake your thoughts up – replacing any negative chatter in your head with positivity instead.
This might mean grabbing a quick coffee with a great friend, listening to your favourite music, listening to an uplifting podcast, or reading an inspirational book. If you choose a book or a podcast; set an alarm for 10 minutes, read/listen away and then you will come away feeling much more positive and ready to get on with the day again.
Sometimes our minds just need a little break and a good dose of positive high vibes to reboot and help us keep going! Learning to be in-tune with your mood and noticing when your mood starts to dip, and then having some simple tools to hand that work for you is a real game changer.
Louise Murray is a Holistic Health Coach with the qualification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and a Mindfulness Teacher. She takes a truly holistic approach to health and wellness by nourishing people ON and OFF the plate by coaching them with nutrition advice combined with lifestyle and behaviour change, healthy habit formation, mindset tools, mindfulness and self-care practices www.livewellwithlou.com