Scheduling Self-Care

I spent 2010 in a new-mom fog, topped off with postpartum depression. It seemed the day my son was born, I forgot how to care for myself as I learned to care for him. Now that I’m recovered from PPD and the shock of new parenthood, this year I’m refocusing on myself.

In 2011, I plan to spend less time on laundry and dusting and more time taking a bubble bath and reading a book.  Less time overscheduled, angry, and worried and more time playing, giggling, and snuggling.

But how can this be accomplished without neglecting my obligations? I hear so many mothers ask themselves and each other this.  Ironically, I feel the answer is  scheduling—relax, it’s the good kind! Grab your calendar and pick one date each week to devote 2 hours (or a whole evening if you can) to doing something JUST FOR YOU. I’m not talking about an hour online replying to emails! I mean a shopping trip for a new (maybe impractical) pair of shoes or a solo trip to the local coffeehouse with your favorite novel or best friend. If you have children,

Real Mom James with Jax

the minute you have your dates selected for the month, grab your phone and plan your childcare for the entire month. Trust me, this will keep you accountable!

Simple enough, right?  To nurture others, you must first nurture yourself.

Today’s author is James of James & Jax, a blog about discovering her new self after becoming a mom.

The Breath of Life

Today’s post is by Lauren Hale.

As you read this I want you to focus on the absolute most basic function of life. You are doing it right now.

Breathing.

Notice how your chest rises and falls, your stomach moves up and down, the air in and out of your nose and mouth. If it is cold, you may even be able to see your breath today. When we take time to be aware of our actions, even the most basic, we tune with what is going on within ourselves and around us as well.

When we are panicked, our breathing is shallow and quick. When calm, it is slow, deep, and rhythmic. Breathing is one of the quickest ways we can change our moods. When my day gets to me, I go to a quiet place and just breathe in and out. This resets my mindset and heads me in a different direction.

Real woman Lauren of My Postpartum Voice

At My Postpartum Voice, I started blogging in order to re-frame an unexpected pregnancy after two episodes of Postpartum OCD. Through my journey, I learned a lot, including how to take a time out for myself. As mothers, we do not have to sacrifice ourselves for our children. We matter too. Motherhood is something we add to our sense of self, not something which must overcome our sense of self. We must take care of ourselves so that we can then take care of our families.

Start today with a deep, relaxing breath. I am.

Empower Yourself to BE YOU!

I’m on vacation this week so I’m running Kelly’s guest post which reminds us to be true to who we are.

To be empowered is to say “YES! This is who I am” rather than letting others define you.   To find your inner voice and strength and use it to control your mind, your body, and your thoughts, staying true to yourself whatever life presents.

Being empowered is to reject helplessness. It is finding the courage to face what frightens you, and instead learn what you can from these experiences. By searching out these silver linings you are refusing to let the pain or fear rule you. Redefining life’s challenges by what you’ve gained.

When is the last time you used your “pause button” and MADE the choice to listen to yourself, to appreciate who you are, or to ask yourself “what do I want?” Remember that only you are the expert on you. You have the strength to create your life and to connect with your inner voice.

So try asking yourself:

  • What truly matters to me?
  • What are my priorities?
  • What are the values that I
    strive to live by?
  • When I wake up tomorrow what
    do I want to remember about today?

And now concentrate. Focus.
Breathe. Listen. And just BE YOU.

Today’s author Kelly Caul, MSW, LCSW is founder of EMPOWERED Therapy, LLC, whose mission is to empower you to BE YOU through individual and group therapy.  Kelly can be reached through her website at www.kellycaul.com.

“The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living”

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  When asked to refrain from teaching this, he chose to end his life by drinking hemlock. For the last few weeks, this phrase keeps coming up in conversation which prompted me to write about it.

How does examining one’s life relate to self-care? Because part of self-care is learning to listen to our “inner voice” and become clear about who we are and what is truly nourishing. Not in a self-centered way but a self-respectful one. However, in today’s frenetic, “need to do one more thing” culture, we often don’t slow down and get quiet enough to hear what our “inner voice” is saying.

Likewise, it’s easier (and less painful) to lose ourselves in what we’re doing and what needs to be done than reflect on who we are and what we may need to change to create our best life. For example, someone who is in an unhappy marriage may focus their attention and energy on their children to protect them from knowing how miserable they are. Or a woman who has a demanding parent may exhaust herself trying to appease them rather than look at her own co-dependent need to be needed.

When we choose self-care, we send a message to ourselves that we are important and that our health-body, mind, heart and soul, is a priority. We quiet the noise of other voices and instead attend to own. Dangerous yes, but totally worthwhile!

What do you think???

No One Feels Good All the Time

Even when you practice self-care daily, you won’t always feel good especially if you’re going through a major life change.  Times in women’s lives when significant physical, mental, emotional and situational changes collide include becoming a mom, adolescence, leaving home, getting married, getting divorced, losing a parent, perimenopause and menopause.

Here are the range of postpartum emotions women report, “I am so irritable. I am full of awe. I cry all the time. I can’t sleep. I am so in love. I can’t get going. I can’t think straight. I feel so worried. I am so bored. I can’t feel anything. I have scary thoughts. I am ecstatic. I grieve for my old life. I feel like a failure. I feel so alone. I feel so nervous. I feel I’ve made a huge mistake.”

Doesn’t this sound like how you feel when experiencing a life-changing event whether motherhood-related or not? Last week we wrote about letting go of our “Motherhood is Bliss” myth. Likewise when you go through a major life change, it’s impossible to feel good all the time. Because we are spiritual beings having a human existence, we are going to experience emotional ups and downs in response to what’s happening.

So next time you’re feeling bad when a major life shift occurs, take a deep breath and remind yourself it’s normal. Just another part of life.

However, if bad feelings persist, call your health provider to rule out a significant physical  or emotional health condition, e.g.diabetes, depression.

Striving for Underachievement

Have you noticed that we live in an achievement-oriented society (at least those
of us in the U.S.)? Many people feel like they are wasting time if they are not
producing, attaining or completing something. It can get exhausting at times!
Sometimes the only occasion we give ourselves a break is on vacation  and many
times even those are meticulously planned out to the minute, leaving little real
relaxation time.

When is the last time that you aspired to “underachieve?” I’m talking about
taking a day off to do “nothing” like watching TV, movies, reading a book,
staying in your pajamas, eating ice cream? Have a day to turn off your phone and
computer, to not do any errands or chores, take a nap or go within? When is the
last time you were able to take a whole day to “play it by ear?” I hope your answer involves some time recently, but if it doesn’t, why not“ try underachievement”soon?

When you give yourself permission to not do anything productive, there’s
no reason to feel guilty. You may, however, feel a little pampered – and that’s
generally a pretty good feeling!

Today’s guest author, Stacey Glaesmann, LPC has a private counseling practice in Pearland, Texas where she specializes in treating perinatal mood disorders. She wrote her first book, “What About Me? A Simple Guide to Self-Care in the 21st Century” in 2007. She can be reached through her website at www.pearlandtherapy.com.

School is Now in Session!

As a mom of two teenagers and a toddler, organization and routine is important to decrease stress and maintain a healthy balance in my home.

Below are some ways
that I do this:

Schedule family time:  Allow your children to help plan a weekly family night.  An example is renting videos and watching them at home with favorite movie snacks to enjoy.  During family night, rules should be established, such as no texting or taking phone calls.

Choose chores:  Because everyone’s schedules are busier now, it is helpful to have a family meeting where everyone can decide which chores they will be responsible for.

Homework:  By providing your children a calendar and having one for yourself, both of you can jot down any special dates and scheduled tests.   Staying organized is the key to a successful school year!

Observe child’s behavior:   Be mindful of any changes in behavior, sleep, and eating behaviors.

Offer support and solutions:  Be your child’s strongest advocate.  Reach out to teacher s and counselors to help you and your child.

Listen:  Use car rides home and dinner time to talk with your child.

Real Mom Lisa

Today’s guest author is Lisa Salazar, MA, LMFT, LPC who is a licensed marriage and family therapist.  She has been married for 18 years and has 3 children.   Books in the Burbs is a blog that Lisa maintains to write book reviews.