Category: Self Care

Self-care Quickies

I believe that self-care is vital for everyone, and particularly for those of us who take care of others. I know a lot of mothers often wonder how they are supposed to fit self-care in to their already busy day. I know that large pockets of time are not often possible but I want to show you a few ways to integrate small moments of self-care in to your day.

For me, having quick things that I can do that nourish me is a must. As a mother of three I am busy and I cannot always find the time to get a massage, a facial or other things that may take organising a babysitter. I need things that I can do throughout the day to keep me feeling good and better able to deal with the daily parenting challenges like the kids fighting, bedtime struggles, crazy mornings.

Ideas for Self-Care in 15 minutes or less.

  • Step outside in to the fresh air – there is something about being outside that makes me feel refreshed and more centred.
  • Sit in the sun for five minutes and feel the warmth on your skin.
  • Sit in silence on your bed – this one can be hard because as soon as you disappear the children usually follow but it makes a such a difference to just get a few minutes alone. If not your bed maybe the toilet?
  • Breathe deeply in to your belly for three to five breaths – this does amazing things for your mind and body.
  • Drink you hot drink, holding it with two hands and enjoy it!
  • Spend a few minutes in the car alone before you pick up the kids/go in to work/walk in to a crazy house.
  • Put your favourite music on. I find this is an instant mood lifter for me and the kids.
  • Take a quick hot shower and then use your favourite body lotion.
  • Set your alarm for fifteen minutes and have a power nap if you don’t have any children at home to supervise.
  • If you have a hobby, take 15 minutes to do it!
  • Paint your nails.
  • Sit down and eat your lunch rather than grazing throughout the day while doing housework or working.
  • Read a book or magazine.
  • Go for a walk, pop the kids in the pram or on their bikes and go. Everyone will feel better for it.
  • Journaling, colouring, or whichever creative outlet you enjoy.
  • Go to be fifteen minutes earlier than normal.

These are just a few ideas of quick things you can to do to take care of YOU! Share with me what you do for quick self care.

 

What Can You Do To Make Mother’s Day Enjoyable For You?

mothers day

 

For all of the mother’s out there celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend, what can you do to make Mother’s Day enjoyable for you? Do you need to buy yourself a gift, plan in some quiet time on the day, tell your partner what you need them to do on Mother’s Day (because they are not always good at guessing!), or do you need to lower your expectations? I had quite a lot of Mother’s Day’s where I felt disappointed that I couldn’t get the day I wished for… until I learnt that I needed to lower my expectations of others and do something for myself to make Mother’s Day more enjoyable for me!

 

How To Start Journaling

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a friend and when I mentioned journaling she asked what I did when I said I journaled. I thought maybe there were others reading who might like to know more about journaling so I have written a little about how I journal and how it helps me.

When I was a teenager, I used to have a lockable diary that I would write in. Often, I would write important events in it, but I would also write about how I was feeling and what was going on in my life. I found this useful particularly when I was sad or angry. A place to get my emotions out.

As an adult, I only journaled occasionally, generally when I was going through a difficult time or record events such as when I was going through IVF or when my Dad passed away.

A few years ago I began to journal more frequently. I have found it to be beneficial for various reasons.

I have found journaling can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • As an emotional release, particularly when I am feeling frustrated, upset or angry.
  • An opportunity to clarify my thoughts. Journaling can be a very useful tool to sort through the thoughts, emotions and ideas circling around in my head.
  • It provides an opportunity to reflect on my experiences and thoughts.
  • After writing things out I gain a different perspective or insight in to what is going on for me.
  • I can keep a written record of my goals, ideas, and experiences.
  • It can be useful when my mind feels overloaded. I often use it as a ‘thought download’ – writing down everything that is going on in my head. Sometimes it helps just to get it out of my head and on to paper.
  • Journaling can help me come up with answers that I need.
  • I learn more about myself.

 

All you need to start journaling is a notebook and a pen. I personally like a hard-backed spiral bound notebook, or a hard-backed journal. I like a hard back because I usually write when I am in bed on lying on the couch and find having a hard back easier. I also like a good pen that flows well because once I get going I can write quite fast and hate my pen feeling like it can’t keep up with me!

I like to journal when it is quite so that I can just tune in to my thoughts and write without distraction.

When I started journaling, and even some days now, it can feel like I don’t know what to write. It can feel forced. Honestly, I have found the best thing to do is just to start writing and keep going. After a little while I find that my thoughts start flowing on to the page. Sometimes I just start by writing out questions that I need answered and then the answers start coming after a few minutes of writing out the questions.

I don’t always expect (or get) answers via journaling. Sometimes there is no clear answer. I do find that it helps sort out my thoughts, calm down if I am angry, or at least get my thoughts and feelings out.

Sometimes I use journaling prompts to learn a little more about myself, such as the weekly self-discovery questions that I post for my readers. I find that answering it by writing in my journal lets me explore the answers more deeply than just thinking about it.

 

Some things I find helpful when journaling are:

  • Privacy is essential. Knowing that no one is going to read your private thoughts means that you can feel comfortable to write. If you do not feel comfortable with having a written journal you can use online password protected journaling websites such as Penzu or 750words (I have never used one so not sure which site is best to use sorry) or write it on a piece of paper and burn it.
  • Don’t censor your thoughts. You need to be open to being honest with yourself. This isn’t always easy in the beginning but will come over time.
  • As I mentioned before, a good pen is ideal!
  • Do it regularly. Even if you set aside 5 minutes a few times a week to begin, or even once a week. You will probably find soon enough that that 5 minutes turns in to more.
  • Just keep writing until your words flow and the answers come.

 

Essentially, the key to journaling is just to put words on a page! So what are you waiting for? Grab a notebook and pen and put pen to paper.

I would love to know if you already journal or if you are inspired to start one, let me know in the comments.

Write A 2017 Bucket List

 

Do you write a yearly bucket list? A list of all of the things big and small that you want to do, see, visit, and achieve in the year. In last weeks post I told you that I am going to post a weekly self discovery question for you, my readers, to ask yourself each week. I will be journalling about it to, or perhaps have done in the week prior. This week I want you to think about, and write down, a list of things that you would like to do this year.

I want you to write all of the little things you would like to do this year, all of the places you would like to visit, things you want to see, things you want to achieve, all of the big dreams you have for the year… even if they don’t feel achievable right now you never know, they may be later in the year. Think of it as your 2017 bucket list. I want you to try to get at least 50. 100 would be even better! If you cannot think of 50 you can always add to it as the year goes on. Write your list and keep it somewhere you will remember it so that you can revisit your list during the year and add or tick things off.

Last year I aimed to write 100 things that I wanted to do in 2016, I think I only wrote about 70. I probably only completed about 40 to 50 of the things on the list but just the process of writing the list was motivating for me. Without my list I suspect I would have only done half of what I did. Last year I included lots of little things like have a coffee with a new mum at kinder, have a pedicure, go to a yoga class, paint something, read a complete book (it had been years since I had read a complete fiction book). I also included a few bigger things which other then starting this blog I didn’t get to tick off… BUT it was motivating and felt good to have some big dreams.

Have fun with it, dream big!

 

Attitude of Gratitude

20161201_130432I have mentioned that I keep a gratitude journal in previous blog posts on my morning routine and my weekly essentials. Practicing gratitude daily has been an attitude game changer for me. I really think it has been the number one thing to change my negative mindset to a more positive one.

For me practicing gratitude began with starting a gratitude journal and writing five things in it each day that I was grateful for. Some days this was easy, some days it was harder. These are the days that it was extra important for me to find something and write it down. On these days it was often simple things like: I am grateful that I have healthy children, I am grateful that I have a house, I am grateful that I can go to sleep now!

In a short time, I found that I could easily come up with things that I was grateful for when I wrote in my gratitude journal each night. I found that I was noticing feelings of gratitude pop in to my thoughts during the day. My mind started to focus more on the positives and less on the negatives in my life. It is a little like how getting back in to exercise after a long time of no exercise feels hard but after you get in to the habit of it feels good, becomes routine and you look forward to it. You just need to reawaken those muscles by using them and it comes back to you. The more you focus on the positives, the more positive neural pathways are made in your brain, resulting in a happier you.

Practicing gratitude does not mean life is always happy and positive. It isn’t, life will always be full of lots of up’s and down’s. At times, it can feel like more down then up. But by focusing on a few small things in our lives that we are grateful for it can shift our perspective of our lives and allow us to see that there are lots of little (or big) good moments. Lots of things we can be grateful for despite whatever else is going on in our lives.

There are a lots of different ways you can begin a gratitude practice:

  • Keep a separate notebook or journal to specifically write down your three to five things each day that you are grateful for.
  • Type your gratitude’s in to a notes app on your phone or a Word document on the computer.
  • Writing them in to your diary/planner each day.
  • Using a specific smartphone app made solely for use as a Gratitude journal. I have never used one so cannot give a recommendation however I have heard of many such as Gratitude365 which also allow you to upload a photo.
  • Write in your everyday journal if you have one.
  • Spend a few moments when you wake or before you go to sleep, thinking about all the things you are grateful for that day.
  • Make it part of your family routine, ask each person to talk about a good part of their day during dinner.

I began by listing the things I was grateful for on the notes section of my smartphone. I then purchased a separate notebook to use solely as a gratitude journal. Currently I write five things I am grateful for in to my Daily Greatness Journal * each morning. I often add a few in at night before I go to sleep when I am reflecting on my day. I also involve my family by asking them to tell me three good things about their day, particularly if one of them have had a bad day!

Do you already keep a gratitude journal? How do you prefer to do it? If not, I really urge you to give it a go. I promise it will be life changing if you do it consistently.

*This post contains an affiliate link. I only recommend products that I use and love. If you chose to purchase via my link I will receive a small commission to help support this blog for which I am greatly appreciative. This does not affect the price you pay in any way.

My Essentials For The Week Ahead

essentials-for-the-week

For the last two weeks I have struggled to write. I have started a few things and then given up because I cannot concentrate. My mind has not been quiet enough for me to write.

Part of the problem is that there have been a lot of things going on in my life for the last two weeks. Part is that I need quiet space to write, not ideal when you are the mother of three, two of whom are pre-schoolers.

We had our pool filled in which meant a lot of time out of the house due to the extremely loud noise, my eldest daughters final exams, my son’s 3rd birthday, a charity walk, a whole lot of tiredness and grumpiness (not just from the children) and a several appointments this week.

I know that I am a person that needs a slow life, I need quiet, I need time at home, I need time outside, I need my early morning alone time, I need to move (gym) and I need a bit of a routine to feel grounded and productive. These last few weeks very little of these needs have been met. Life has felt messy and chaotic because of this and I need to get back on track.

To keep myself accountable I am going to write my commitment to myself here. My Essentials for the week ahead are:

  • Wake early every morning
  • Go to the gym or walk on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
  • Meditate daily
  • Write in my gratitude journal daily
  • Go outside every day and feel my toes in the grass
  • Schedule two days where I am home all day
  • Play with my kids
  • Watch something that makes me laugh out loud
  • Prepare for the next day the prior evening
  • Ask for help with looking after my children for an afternoon so that I can write
  • Minimize my Facebook scrolling
  • Eat well and drink more water!

I am going to go grab my diary right now and write them in!

The Importance of Self-Care in Motherhood

how-i-fit-in-self-care

I used to think self-care was sitting on the couch watching TV, mindless internet browsing and Facebook, or time away from the kids (once I was at the point of desperation for alone time). I now recognise that while there is a place for watching TV, Facebook and browsing the internet none of these things are what I need to feel refreshed, nourished and have a healthy mind and body.

Self-care is about consciously making time in our day to prioritise ourselves. As mothers, we need to look after ourselves so that we can look after others. I know that prioritising self-care can feel like we are being selfish but believe me, it is the best thing we can do for ourselves and our families. When I don’t look after myself I get grumpy, resentful and yell more. When I am looking after myself I am calmer, happier and a much nicer person to live with!

WAYS THAT I FIT SELF-CARE IN TO MY LIFE:

  • Waking up before the children get up to have time alone.
  • Meditation. Sometimes it is 3 minutes, sometimes 10. Usually I use a guided mediation but other times I will just sit and mediate without any guidance.
  • Gym membership. Generally, I go two to three times a week, jump on the treadmill for an hour and then have a coffee alone. The kids love going to the child care centre at the gym and I get some time out, win-win.
  • Getting outside. Feeling the grass under my bare feet, the sun on my skin, the wind in my hair. I try to do this every day and with young children it is a way of fitting in some self-care while I am with them.
  • Slowly drinking a cup of tea or coffee, holding it with two hands and enjoying every mouthful.
  • Journaling. Generally, in the evenings before bed I grab my journal and write. It might be about my day, it might be a list of everything on my mind, I might just write and explore something that is on my mind, or I may have a journal prompt to answer.
  • Reading
  • Going out for a coffee alone.
  • Colouring in. Yep, I occasionally grab an adult colouring book (Mandalas are my favourite) and my coloured gel pens and get colouring. Another one that is great to do while the kids are around.
  • Spending a night alone at a hotel twice a year. Pure bliss. I swim, read, eat, enjoy a big deep bath and sleep in. Oh and eat some more, did I mention eating uninterrupted?

Everyone will have different ideas of what type of activities feel like self-care to them. And it can change with the seasons too. I like walking outside and chatting with a friend when the weather is warm, but when it is cold we never go walking. When it is wet and cold I don’t sit outside barefoot either! I might sit under the pergola where I can still get some fresh air but not get rained on.

OTHER IDEAS ON HOW TO INCLUDE SELF-CARE IN TO YOUR DAY:

  • Having a bath.
  • Daily walks outside.
  • Exercise.
  • Go to sleep earlier.
  • Catch up with a friend for coffee.
  • Put your favourite music on and dance.
  • Afternoon nap.
  • Take a few minutes to massage lotion in to your hands and feet before bed.
  • Being creative – craft, painting, drawing, making something, colouring, baking.
  • Take a long shower and use your favourite body wash then rub in your favourite body lotion.
  • Getting a massage, facial, pedicure or manicure.
  • Buy yourself flowers.
  • Sitting in silence.
  • Watch something that makes you laugh out loud.
  • Light a candle.
  • Girls weekend away.

The list could go on and on. The important thing is to choose things that make you feel good. Make them things that you can realistically do so that you can fit them in to your day and week. If you decide that the only thing you want to do as self-care is to get a massage or to go shopping without your children but you can only do that twice a year, then you need to find things that you can do EVERY DAY and week. Schedule it in to your diary if you need the reminder to do it. Make it part of your everyday life, not something you save for when the kids aren’t home or when you have ‘more time’.

I am curious… do you currently have a self-care practice you love? Leave a comment and let me know.

Back to the Gym : My Mental Health Is Thanking Me

runners

This week is Mental Health Week. I thought I would share one of the main things I do for my mental health. I have suffered with anxiety in the past, and it is still always there in the background, occasionally flaring up as if to remind me to take better care of myself.

Last week I went back to the gym after a month, and if I am honest I have barely been there at all in the past three months. The moment I walked back in to the gym I felt the guilt about not prioritising my health. I felt like everyone was looking at me knowing that I hadn’t been there for so long. I couldn’t help but feel self conscious.

I jumped on to the treadmill and started it up, I started walking and felt my shoulders drop, my face relax, my tension slowly melt away. I am fairly sure I let out a sigh of relief to be back there. The hum of the treadmill is my happy place. It felt hard, my fitness had diminished quickly. I reminded myself that I must make the gym, or any type of exercise, part of my routine again.

Treadmill

Jumping on the treadmill a few times a week has been such an important time out for me over the last four years. I started going when second daughter was around 8 months old. The gym has a great creche and so I used to leave my daughter in the creche and go to a weekly yoga classes and the occasional treadmill walk, followed by coffee at the gym coffee shop with a close friend. If I hadn’t had my friend to have a coffee with afterwards I am not sure I would have ever got in to a routine of going. I continued going throughout my pregnancy with my son and started back again when he was 12 weeks old. It gave me the space I so desperately needed in the early months.

I can always tell when I haven’t been to the gym for a while. I get irritable, I find my anxiety flaring up and I feel restless. The gym gives me some time to be alone. Time for me. Time to let go of stress. Time to be able to let go of having to be constantly watching and listing out for my children. Time to have a coffee alone afterwards!

Last week, going back after a month long break felt like coming home, like a big release of energy. I am sure my mental health thanked me for getting back to it, for prioritising my health and my mental health again. I am guessing my family are thankful too.

Do you do any exercise? How does it help you?

 

 

The Power of an Early Morning

 

Wake early routine

Waking up before the kids… this used to sound like my worst nightmare. I was tired, why would I want to wake up earlier in the morning? I needed more sleep not less!

I first tried it years ago. When I was a single mum to my eldest daughter, I used to get up in the morning at least half an hour before my daughter woke and do yoga before getting us ready for childcare and University. It made such a difference to my day. Unfortunately, this only lasted for six months before the weather got cold and I wanted to stay in bed as long as possible. I forgot all of the benefits of getting up early for the next 15 years.

Last year, I began getting up early again. Initially it was because we had a tradesman coming for a few weeks and I liked to be showered and dressed before he came. He was kind of sexy…. Ok, a lot. I felt so organised and prepared for the day that I continued to do this until Winter when I stopped again. A few months later I found the Rise and Shine Challenge that The Abundant Mama runs. It is a 10 day free email course and it is amazing. It made me think about, plan and implement the way I wanted my mornings to go. It helped me to think about how to create better night time rituals, and how to plan my mornings so that the rest of my day ran smoother and calmer.

Waking up early has given me time to myself, time to wake up before the kids get up, time for some quiet time before the chaos of the morning begins. It has meant that instead of being woken up by the children (which always left me feeling grumpy all morning) I get time to wake up gently. I feel calmer and more organised. I get time alone in silence.

Sure, some days they wake early too and I don’t get any time to myself before they wake, but because I regularly get that time, the days that they are up early I have learnt to just go with. Even a few days a week of having that early morning alone time makes a big difference to me.

What I use this time for has changed over the past year depending on what is going on in my life, what times my children are getting up, what I feel I need or want to do. Currently I get up at 6 am. I sneak out to the lounge and do a short meditation before setting my intentions for the day. I think about what I want to achieve, how I want feel and act. For example I might want to feel calm, connected to my family and productive.

For the last few months I have been using the Daily Greatness Yoga Journal and I am loving it. I can write my daily goals and plan my day. In the evening I fill in the things that I am grateful for and some of the daily prompts such as what I learnt today and any ideas or thoughts I had on the day. It is a really easy way of planning and reflecting on my day. Most days I follow this with catching up on social media, writing in my journal or reading.

I would love to have a cup of tea but every time I have tried my children hear the kettle and wake up. I would also love to get up and do yoga every morning but so far I haven’t made that happen. Maybe as the weather gets warmer.

What you use your morning time for is really up to what you feel you need. Some people make a set ritual that they do each morning, others have a range of things they do and just do what they feel like at the time.

Some ideas are:

  • Shower and get dressed before the children get up.
  • Plan your day
  • Have a coffee or tea and relax before your family wake.
  • Sit outside and breathe in the morning air.
  • Read
  • Journal
  • Go for a walk or do some form of exercise.
  • Mediate
  • Yoga
  • Eat your breakfast uninterrupted

It may be that you only have a 10 minutes alone before your children get up. Find something that makes you feel good that can be done in those 10 minutes. I know that it might feel impossible, it once did to me, but I really encourage you to give it a go. It made a big difference to my happiness, the way my entire day runs and to finding me again in my motherhood journey.

I know some of you reading will be saying that there is no way you can get up earlier, or no way you can get up without the kids do. I get that. Some people are not morning people. Some are not getting enough sleep due to babies, small children or a variety of other reasons. Some kids wake at the sound of a feather dropping. If you are not getting enough sleep right now, waking early is probably not right for you right now. If you are not a morning person I would really encourage you to give it a go but if it doesn’t work for you, can you put aside time in your evenings to have some time for yourself? Time to look after you. Time to reset after a busy day of kids, work, housework, giving all of your energy to other people and tasks. It makes a huge difference I promise.

Let me know if you get up early. How do you use the time? What difference has it made to you and your day?