Today is Day 27.
My husband was selected to make chief this year, so our family is going through “chief season”, which is the Navy's special form of rushing a fraternity.
Previously, he has been home around the time I picked up the children every day.
When this new seasons of our life started he was gone before the sun came up, and he got home well after the sun went down.
I lost my mind.
I reverted back to chewing my nails. I became SO STRESSED OUT. I was yelling at my children all the time, and I wasn't liking the person I was becoming, and I'm pretty sure my children didn't like it either.
What had changed? Self-care.
Well. Lack of self-care in this situation. When my children went to bed instead of spending time reading a book, writing a post, or taking a shower . . . I was waiting impatiently for my husband to come home, and worrying if I would see him that day.
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Instead of getting sleep I was staying up much later and getting up much earlier. Less sleep. More stress. Sound familiar? It's like being a new mom again, it seems.
Maybe you're feeling the same thing during the beginning of the school year.
You need to stay up later to put things together for the next morning and get up earlier to make breakfast for the family.
You feel lost, confused, and you feel like you need to take everything onto your shoulders so your family will survive.
A family is only as strong as it's weakest link. If you're not sleeping, showering, or getting your daily recommended solo bathroom break . . . YOU are the weakest link.
There are about 278,000,000 articles right now on Google about stress relief.
Imagine all the different options.
One thing most people can agree on is stress relief begins with taking the reins and practice some self-care.
I took a flight recently to New York, and the stewardess said something that really has stuck with me.
You have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help someone else.
We HAVE to help ourselves first to be able to help others. You can't pour from an empty cup, just like you can't help someone put on their oxygen mask if you're out of air. I get it.
I'm a mom, too.
All the fires around us are way more important than our needs. Who will wash the clothes, put out dinner, or clean up the mystery smell under the bed?
Being everything for everyone is exhausting. You don't deserve that weight on your shoulders. It's incredibly important to pay attention to your needs. Make your health a priority, and see when you might just need a little more self-love.
We don't always get it right with self-care.
Self-care is essentially doing something for you without worrying about satisfying or meeting the needs of someone else. Because of this, it's so easy to slip into that familiar feeling of self-care being selfish.
You're not taking away from your family by caring for yourself. You're giving them a better version of yourself.
It comes in so many different forms, and my self-care probably looks different from your self-care.
Don't know where to start with self-care? I have the ultimate guide that will help you. Click here to see it!
Filling your cup will look different for everyone. Some people love taking baths with all those adorable little gift sets that come out for Mother's Day.
Some love reading (or listening to) books.
It's much more than that though.
Self-care is deeper than what consumerism wants you to believe.
Self-care means taking the time to visit friends or family.
When is the last time you took a walk or got in a good exercise session?
Spend time with your spouse, or your pet.
Heck, do it all at the same time if you need to. Take a walk with a friend and your dog.
Self-care isn't about being alone, either.
I think this is why self-care is considered selfish frequently.
You don't have to be by yourself as much as possible and you don't have to only do things that benefit you.
Self-care is about being intentional about taking care of yourself like you would take care of your loved ones.
I mean, think about it. You probably spend a lot of time doing things for other people. Making sure you do the laundry so they have pants, checking to see if they have their special favorite toy before bed, or putting lotion on a little wiggly body after a bath so they don't have to worry about dry or itchy skin. . . . you haven't had a shower in four days.
Self-Care is the First Thing You Should Turn To When You're Stressed Out.
The thing about being overwhelmed is . . . well, it's your brain's way of begging you to take a break. When you're dealing with a lot of stress and overwhelm in your life it's time for a mental break.
So add in some self-care.
The lack of self-care likely isn't the sole cause of stress in your life, it can help give you the mental clarity you're needing to push through the rest of your day.
When you implement self-care in your daily life, you'll be able to take a step back and relax your mind AND body and re-focus on what needs to be done.
The real win here is you'll spend less time spinning your wheels and trying to remain busy, and you'll actually complete the things you want to get done.
Instead of being stressed out and unable to think, you'll be able to take action with intention.
Start with Daily Activities For Your Health and Wellbeing
It's normal to not be sure where to start with self-care. It can be a new and overwhelming endeavor.
My favorite place to start is journaling.
When we decide we are going to start going for walks every day, we mentally decide “tomorrow is day one”. Maybe that's because you decide at night, or you had already planned out the rest of the day or maybe you are dreading it and putting it off for future you to worry about.
You shouldn't have that dread with writing words on a paper or on a screen.
I've put together two weeks worth of journaling prompts to help get you started, here is the form to receive them.
What else can you do for yourself that helps your stress levels, and helps you relax? Try some of these:
- Get Better Sleep. This may take a bit of planning. Make a list of everything you need to do in the morning and move as many things as you can into the night before. This could be putting out clothes in the morning or making overnight oats to even feeding your dog at night instead of in the morning.
- Relaxing. When you get the opportunity, sit down. If you have a hard time falling asleep at night, put a few drops of lavender essential oil on your pillow, or take an epsom salt bath.
- Writing in a journal or planner. Planning is soothing. Plus, you'll have those prompts I send out to your email, you can work on those as well.
- Reading / Listening to audiobooks. I used to be someone who thought if you aren't physically reading a book, you aren't really reading, and you're lame. Then I had children. Now I listen to all my books. I like psychological thrillers likes The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, check it out here on Amazon. When you start reading you'll find what genre you love, too.
- Drinking More Water. This is one of those ones you can start right now. I'm sitting here with water propped up against my leg on the couch so I can be constantly reminded. So drink up. Right now! I'll wait.
- Eat Better Food. I've noticed something about myself. I began eating better around the time I had my second child. We cut out crap food (usually food out of boxes) and began to feel so much better. Halloween came up, and I LOVE KitKat bars, so I went a little crazy in November. I noticed I was much less patient with my children after eating chocolate the night before. Since noticing I also defined other foods having the same effect. Clean up your eating and see if you have a similar trigger food.
- Exercising. Not tomorrow. Start today. Take your dog for a walk with your spouse!
Be More Intentional
Stress is tricky. It seems to lift you up away from yourself, and you're left to struggle to find your footing again. This is where your senses come in. What can you do to bring out your senses and ground yourself? You have five senses: Taste, touch, hearing, smelling and seeing. Each sense you tap into when you're stressed out will help you remain calm and be more mindful. It doesn't have to be extravagant. To be more mindful, find simple activities to help ground yourself.
- Listen: audiobooks, music, rain, your own humming.
- Feel: a hot bath, a soft blanket, rub your fingers together, or a fidget gadget. My favorite is a long necklace.
- Smell: a bubble bath, lavender essential oils, the air outside.
- Taste: lemon in your water.
- Watch: rain falling outside, or the water filling in that Epsom bath you're going to take or a trashy guilty pleasure show.
It doesn't take much to be considered self-care while still tapping into your different senses to increase your mindfulness and start you on a path to relieve stress.
Beyond the Basics of Self-Care
You can do anything for yourself that makes you feel happy and relaxed.
Take a minute to think about what you do at home and outside the home to feel happy or relaxed. Going on a road trip or vacation? Coffee with a friend? Date night with your significant other? Going to Orange Theory? All of these are great for your self-care. Self-care is whatever you make of it, and it's so personal. Whatever will make you better mentally or physically is what you are aiming for here.
Let's get you those journal prompts, so you can start using them today.