With Hanukah tomorrow and 6 days until Christmas, holiday stress is peaking. So this week, we’re focusing on self-care basics to preserve health, happiness, and your remaining sanity. First, make time to eat; your body can’t run without fuel. Exercise once or twice by going to the gym, walking your dog, or riding your bike. Recharge your emotional engine by making time to savor what you enjoy-a great cup of coffee, a manicure, or visiting a friend. Feed your spirit by walking in nature, positive affirmations, and giving to others.
Second, practice relaxation. Take breaks in the day. Stop running around at record speeds. The “perfect gift” doesn’t exist so stop and breathe. Close your eyes and spend 5 minutes, breathing in to the count of 3, holding for a couple seconds and then out to the count of 3. If a thought creeps in, let it go. Focus you attention on your heart spreading calm and warmth through your body. Repeat 2-3 times a day. Studies show that relaxation boosts immunity, lessens pain and improves mood.
Finally, spend your time wisely. Choose one activity which makes the holidays special for you and Do It! Maybe baking or caroling or watching a holiday DVD. Don’t let your “to do” list consume you. Prioritize what has to get done, and cut out what you can. Stop and think “Will doing this make me feel good” or tired and stressed. The better you feel, the more you’ll enjoy the holidays and so will those around you.
Since we’ve been discussing the thoughts which bind us, let’s review several myths about motherhood/life. If you’re not a mom, substitute the word “women” and whatever situation pertains.
1. Myth: Good mothers never make mistakes. They always know the right thing to do. Reality: All mothers make mistakes. The trick is to learn from them and not wound yourself with guilt.
2. Myth: Motherhood is always bliss. Reality: Motherhood is likely to be the most challenging and rewarding experience you will ever know. Each woman will experience it in her unique way.
3. Myth: Motherhood is easy. You automatically know what to do. Reality: Being a “good enough” mom is hard work. It is a journey not a destination.
4. Myth: Good mothers sacrifice everything. Reality: No woman is a bottomless pitcher. You must replenish your resources regularly or your health will be compromised.
5. Myth: Motherhood is instinctual. Reality: Motherhood is a learning process. It is in the “doing” that you become a mother.
Sound daunting? Here’s one thought-changing strategy. Take any belief and ask yourself what’s the evidence that this is true? My personal favorite is #4. Take #4 and observe how you feel when you sacrifice everything? Martyrdom is rarely pretty and lessens the qualities, like patience and kindness, which make you a good mom/person. Then substitute the reality-based statement above which the evidence is likely to support.
Preview Chapter 6 of Life Will Never Be the Same for more ideas. The more you release judgemental thoughts, the better you’ll feel. For inspiration, click here.
Just a quick reminder that we’re moving Wednesday Wisdom to Words of Wisdom on Thursday. Thursday’s post will be about spirituality and self-care by a woman we admire who at 60 went back to get her Masters in Divinity. Her story and life are an inspiration and we know you’ll enjoy what she has to say.
In the meantime, we couldn’t let you leave empty-handed. Here are some thoughts about self-care from Vimala McClure’s The Tao of Motherhood.
“Taking care of yourself is your right and your responsibility. If a mother values herself, her children value her. She teaches self-esteem by her example. Her peaceful demeanor communicates love to all who come in contact with her.
Knowing when to sacrifice the self and when to nurture the self comes with daily mindfulness. Pay attention to your body’s signals. Observing your feelings each day, eventually you will be able to take time for yourself before it before it becomes an angry demand. This enables you to give of yourself appropriately, without resentment.”
Wise words to live by. Join us Thursday for our new and improved “Words of Wisdom.” We welcome your contributions so send them along.