Being a stay at home is one of the most rewarding jobs but it can come at a hefty price if you neglect your own self-care. A mom’s job is never done and you are probably ready to pull your hair out some days. As a previous stay at home mom in my early 20s, I can attest that it was the hardest job that I have ever had. Most moms will agree because as a stay at home mom, your job is never ending and there is no one to relieve you when you get sick.
Moms tend to give everything of themselves and often put their own needs on the backburner, especially if you have very young children who rely on your for all their children. Neglecting your own needs is unhealthy and can leave you feeling taxed at the end of the day. When you are exhausted or constantly feeling stressed out, you will likely notice that the relationships around you begin to suffer including your spouse. Or you may even begin feeling unhappy or depressed.
Stay at home moms are vulnerable and may feel “guilty” for taking a break to meet their own needs. Once a day, schedule yourself a break to do something that you enjoy after you put the kids to bed or during nap time. Let me assure you, that taking a break is necessary for you to recharge so that you are a better mom. You can’t perform your best if you don’t take care of YOU.
Are you guilty of neglecting your own needs or taking time out of the day for self-care? Stop neglecting yourself and make the time each day to spend a few minutes a day to take care of you. Self-care isn’t selfish or a waste of time but it is activities that help you improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. I want to challenge you today to start practicing self-care. If needed, make an appointment with yourself during nap time or before bed.
Self-Care Improves Your Physical Health
As a mom, there are little people who rely on you to take care of them and make sure their needs are met. Taking time out of your busy day to improve your physical health is highly beneficial. Skipping self-care can lead to excessive stress. The best way to turn off your fight or flight response is to take the time to focus on your physical health.
Exercise is an excellent way to turn off your fight or flight response and help your body relax. Current Physical Activity Guidelines 150 minutes (or about 30 minutes, five times a week) of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. I suggest finding several different types of exercise that you enjoy and even some that you can enjoy with your children too.
Do you frequently forget to eat or reach for junk food instead of making a healthy meal for yourself during the day? I’ve made a habit to keep healthy choices available for me to eat during the week. Eating healthy will help keep your weight in a healthy range and you will feel better if you eat nutritious options.
Get Enough Sleep
About a month ago, CBS posted an article that it takes parents’ six years or longer to recover from the sleep deprivation after a new child is born. The first three months of your child is the hardest and when new parents can feel the dramatic effects of sleep deprivation. Moms with young children, need to make sure that they are getting enough sleep on a regular basis.
Sleep deprivation can have serious health complications including weight gain and depression. Healthy adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep on a regular basis. Instead of trying to play catch up by sleeping in on the weekends, studies have found that it is better to go to bed and wake-up at the same time each day.
We get that sleeping through the night is hard if you have a newborn, young child, or one that isn’t sleeping very well due to an illness. The best way to recover from sleep debt is to catch up slowly rather than sleeping an extended period of time. Try going to bed 15 to 20 minutes early each night.
Self-Care Improves Your Mental Health
Stay at home moms are more likely to suffer from a mental health illness but if you are proactive, you can keep yourself from falling into the “depression” trap. Moms who spend all day with their child tend to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Staying on top of your mental health can prevent stay at home mom depression.
When you feel good about yourself, you tend to be happier. The kids do pick up when you are not happy. Self-care is necessary for your sanity and it gives you a chance to recharge your batteries.
Self-Care Improves Your Emotional Health
Always express how you are feeling. Never keep things bottled up. Stuffing your feelings and letting them stew isn’t healthy. Eventually, those feelings have to come out and when it happens you usually blow up. If you are uncomfortable talking about your feelings, journaling, meditation, and prayer are healthy ways to get your feelings out.
Keep a Balanced Life
It is not okay to pretend that you are happy. But you should always focus on balancing out the negative situations with things that are positive. Adapt a positive outlook even when the situation seems daunting. Also, remember that it is okay to say “no” to events, activities, or even giving up your free time.
Develop a Habit of Recovering Quickly From Difficult Situations
Bad things happen to everyone at some point. Recovering from a difficult situation whether it be a miscarriage, divorce, death of a family member, or job loss, how you bounce back makes a huge difference. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t grieve, this is part of the healing process. We all process our emotions in our own way. If you struggle with recovering from a difficult situation, reach out to a mental health professional to help you develop the tools that you need to make this process easier. Some people are lucky and are able to bounce back quickly, while others it takes a bit of work.
Unexplained Health Problems
Neglecting your emotional health can cause health problems that normally aren’t there when you are healthy. Excessive stress and emotional problems can weaken your immune system and you are more likely to get sick. Here are some symptoms to keep an eye out for if you are struggling emotionally:
- back pain
- change in appetite
- chest pain
- constipation or diarrhea
- dry mouth
- extreme tiredness or sleeping too much
- general body aches and pains
- high blood pressure
- insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- palpitations (the feeling that your heart is racing)
- sexual problems
- shortness of breath
- stiff neck
- upset stomach
- weight gain or loss
If you notice any of these signs and symptoms, please see your doctor to rule out potential health problems. Depending on your circumstances, your doctor may prescribe medication to help you manage depression or anxiety problems.
Maintain a Sense of Calmness
Your mind is the central hub of your body and when your emotional health is off, your body reacts to the stimulus. During a crisis, it’s not unusual to have racing thoughts. Your mind is constantly processing information and battling the thoughts in your head can cause additional anxiety, depressions, or feel as if your life is out of control.
When you are in the midst of a crisis, you need to focus on creating and maintaining a sense of calmness. There are several different types of relaxation techniques that you can use when you are feeling stressed out or in the middle of a crisis. I suggest trying meditation, relaxation CDs, use guided imagery, yoga, tai chi, take slow deep breaths, use essential oils such as lavender, peace and harmony, or other techniques that work for you.
Find a Support Group or Therapist
The best way to cope with life’s lemons is to have your therapist’s number on speed dial or find a few close friends in your support group available to lean on. Next time you find yourself in the middle of a crisis, reach out to your therapist or support group for help. You can even utilize both too.
Don’t be embarrassed to go see a therapist or a mental health care provider. We are all human and go through life’s trials from time to time. Your therapist can provide more one on one counseling session and help you develop healthy coping skills. He or she is also a safe place to vent your feelings too.
Take advantage of having a support group. We weren’t made to go through life alone and having friends to lean on to help you heal or overcome a difficult situation.
Being a stay at home mom is one of the most difficult jobs that I have ever done. Staying at home watching your kids grow up is bittersweet but it can take a toll on your health if you don’t diligently practice self-care on a regular basis.