The holiday season is officially here and with that comes our never-ending to-do lists leading to an increase in stress for most of us. Those who struggle with anxiety may be wondering how they are going to make it through the next month. Possibly, some of us are even feeling a sense of dread instead of the elusive holiday cheer.
If you’re someone who does feel anxious or more stressed this time of year, fear not. There is hope! There are many simple things you can do to help reduce your stress and anxiety so that you can enjoy spending the holidays with your loved ones.
5 TIPS FOR REDUCING HOLIDAY STRESS AND ANXIETY
1. Practice Mindfulness
To practice mindfulness means to increase your awareness of the present moment. It’s focusing on the here and now.
There are many ways to do this, but the simplest way is to breathe. Taking deep breaths helps you get enough oxygen into your body to help it function at its best. Without enough oxygen, stress can build up leading to physical ailments like heart problems, stomach aches, and trouble sleeping. If you can incorporate 5 minutes of deep breathing into your daily routine, you’ll more than likely notice a difference in your stress level after just a few days.
More Mindfulness Stategies:
listening to music
focus on your 5 senses
Check out The Mayo Clinic for more mindfulness exercises and how they can help you manage holiday stress.
2. Ask For Help
Most moms tend to struggle with this. I think it’s because society puts pressure on us to do it all and we’re afraid that we might look weak if we can’t. But that’s not true! As you’ve probably heard before,
“It takes a village to raise a child.”
That means that none of us can do it on our own. We just have to learn how to reach out for help without feeling guilty about it. In my experience, when I have asked my friends to help by grabbing something for me from the grocery store or watching my kids for an hour or two while I go to a Dr’s appointment, they have actually been more than willing to help.
Helping others actually makes people feel better about themselves and anyone who is a good friend will want to help you when they can. Plus you can return the favor and help them in the future.
3. Set Boundaries
During the holidays, it can be easy to fill up your social calendar almost every day of the week. Not only are there parties and family gatherings, but you may feel pressure to participate in every food drive or cookie exchange. There are also more community events this time of year like tree lightings and holiday programs at your church or school. Then you have to factor in the time it takes to get your holiday shopping done, write and send out cards, and decorate your home.
There just isn’t enough time to do everything! So we have to say “No” to some things. You may get pushback from family or friends if you decide not to send out holiday cards this year, but that’s ok. You can always send them out for New Years or try again next year to do them earlier when you have more time.
4. Take A Technology Break
We live in a society that expects us to be “on” 24/7. Not only do people want us to answer their texts and phone calls right away, but we’re also constantly being bombarded by new information on social media. Sometimes we just need a day or even a few hours to shut off our devices and unplug from it all.
I purposely leave my phone at home when I exercise because it’s usually the only time I can get a break. If I don’t do this occasionally I find myself getting easily overwhelmed, especially during the holidays. Another idea is to put your phone in another room and turn it on silent for a set amount of time. I know this can be really challenging, but I assure you the phone call or text can wait a few minutes.
5. Be Proactive
Building in time to your schedule for self-care is crucial this time of year, especially for those who struggle with anxiety. I suggest looking at your calendar at least once a week and finding time to exercise. Even if this means 15 minutes of yoga or going for a quick walk. I would even go as far as writing this time down in your calendar so that you are more likely to honor the commitment to yourself.
It’s also important to be aware of what you’re eating and drinking. Limiting your consumption of alcohol and sweets can be challenging with all of the parties and social gatherings this time of year. But having a plan for how you’re going to handle these situations ahead of time can be really helpful. Also, remember that it’s ok to say no even when it’s really tempting to give in. Practicing this with a friend or partner ahead of time can make these difficult situations a little easier to handle.
If you don’t have a support network to help, counseling is another great option for managing holiday stress! I’d be happy to help you figure out if it might be an appropriate time to seek counseling. I offer a free 10 minute phone consultation where we can determine if the services I provide would be a good fit.
Why is it that every self-help article or book for moms reminds us that we have to ask for help yet moms still don’t do it?
For one thing, we all have this mentality that we should be super mom and that we have to do it all. Or at least I do anyway. Maybe that just comes from my competitive nature and the desire to be the best at everything.
I’m working on not comparing myself to others, but that’s hard to do! Especially when sometimes it feels like everyone else around me is happy and I’m not.
To make matters worse, moms are constantly being bombarded with more things to-do.
My To-do List On A Typical Day
“Mom I need more clean underwear! “
Suddenly I remember that I forgot to do that load of laundry before I ran out the door to carpool. Now I set out to move the huge pile of dirty clothes to the basement laundry room, sort it, remember to switch the clean clothes from the wash to the dryer, fold them or at least sort by person, then I can put some underwear in my son’s drawer.
As I’m going through the clean clothes I remember that my 8 year old has had yet another growth spurt and none of his pants from last year fit anymore. I make a mental note to shop online later and order him some more pants. Then I remember that the pants I ordered online last week from brands he usually wears were long enough but too loose in the waist. Maybe I can find some on Ama….I think as my thoughts are interrupted by my youngest son.
“Mom, what are we having for dinner?”
Oh yeah, I’m getting to that, as soon as I finish the laundry. Crap I forgot about the dishes in the sink. As I’m going to the sink I remember that when I did the grocery pick up order this week they were out of low carb tortillas, so I have to run out to the store if we want to have taco night. I didn’t defrost any other meat and it’s 5:30, so that’s our only option.
Husband: “You know we could just get take out. That would be a lot easier.”
But we’ve eaten take out the past 2 nights and I know that’s not good for us. We were just at the pediatrician’s office last week and I had to fudge on my answer when the nurse asked how often we eat fast food per week. Plus it costs a lot of money. And if we want to stay within our budget this month we can’t eat out every single night!
This is the constant battle moms have to face.
Figuring out how to do what’s best for our kids, but at the same time finding the best work/life balance. Which is another added stressor for many of us moms.
We’re constantly asking ourselves:
Do I go back to work full time or do I continue being a stay at home mom?
Do I take on more hours at work so we can be in a better situation with our finances?
Or do I continue working part-time so that I can be there more for my kids?
Maybe I should pick up a “side hustle” so that we can save even more. Plus my friend’s always asking me to join her business selling stuff. Then I could get it for free! (Ahem I’ve tried this one a few times!)
Another reason that we don’t ask for help is that we don’t see other moms doing it very often.
How many times have you seen a friend struggling and said, “let me know if you need anything” only to realize 6 months later that you never heard from them? Then you find out they were struggling a lot of that time and they didn’t reach out. They figured out how to make it through it themselves, or maybe they just didn’t want to ask for help.
Why is that? It’s not easy to admit that you can’t do everything it takes to be a mom on your own. We all want to show that we’re strong. Or we want to BE strong. We don’t want to admit defeat. Plus we know deep down that all the pressure we’re under is worth having kids. And we know that it’s not going to last forever.
There’s also the mentality for some that all of these things are our jobs as moms. So if we complain or ask for help we sound ungrateful. I personally also don’t really like burdening my friends or family with my problems. I feel like most of the time I created them, so why should I need help solving them?
Or maybe moms don’t like to ask for help because we’re ashamed. If we ask for help then we often have to explain why we need it. Then we wonder if we’re sharing too much about our personal life. This is probably more related to my own social anxiety than anything, but I do think more people struggle with social anxiety than not. Or at least a lot of the moms that I know do.
I know I will survive!
I’m pretty lucky to have some great friends and family who are willing to drop everything and do what they can to help me when I ask. It’s not always convenient for them, but they will help anyway. They’d rather inconvenience themselves than see me suffer, because that’s what people who truly care about you will do!
I just have to actually ask. Otherwise, they won’t even know that I need help. Most of the time they’re either too busy or too distracted with their own lives. Plus, I do a pretty good job of hiding it when I’m struggling.
So, moms, I encourage you to get past your fears, your embarrassment, and your pride. Talk to your friends and family if you’re struggling. Ask for help. Find a therapist or call your doctor. You don’t have to suffer in silence. There is so much more to life than that! Sometimes all it takes is one call to help you get back on your feet.
If you know a mom who might need to hear this, be sure to share it with her! Sharing is caring!
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Inside: Tips for surviving quarantine with young kids.
If you had told me a few months ago we would be forced to stay home and schools would be closed until further notice because of a deadly virus, I would’ve thought you were talking about a scene from a Sci-Fi movie.
When we were planning a trip to Jamaica for Spring Break last month, my husband casually mentioned getting travel insurance just in case the coronavirus became a bigger deal and we couldn’t go.
At that point, I had to google what he was talking about. I had seen a few memes on social media, but I was pretty clueless about what they meant.
About a week later, he started hoarding non-perishables in bulk from Amazon and I still thought he was crazy. Fast forward to today, and I’m glad we got the travel insurance. My only regret is not stocking up on more toilet paper.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard a lot of advice about everything from social distancing to protecting our health, mastering homeschooling and even parenting. Some of it has been good advice, and some bad. MOST if it has been well-meaning, but it hasn’t always been credible. The challenge is, figuring out who is right.
But the best thing I’ve read is that it’s ok to feel all the feels.
Recently I feel like I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions. I’ve had feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness, hopelessness, joy, laughter, exhaustion, gratitude, confusion, and doubt. The reality is with at least another month of social distancing to go, I’m going to keep feeling all of these things and more.
I’m trying really hard to give myself self-compassion and grace. This pandemic is new to all of us. So we have to cut ourselves some slack. We’re all still figuring this out and adjusting to a new way of life.
If that means we allow our kids to play more video games and eat more sugar, it’s ok.
I’m trying to be more of a “yes mom” right now because I want my kids to be happy. Being stuck at home for weeks at a time is hard enough and I really want to try to make it fun for them.
Plus sometimes there’s really no way to get a break other than by letting them watch tv or play video games. If that means that I’m the world’s okayest mom, I’m fine with it.
So go ahead, feel all the feels.
But that doesn’t mean you have to let all those negative feelings rule your life.
How do we stop them though?
For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to figure that out. I’ve written blogs on self-care and as a former therapist, you’d think I’d have this part down pat.
But a lot of my tips don’t really apply to this new way of life. I can’t go get a massage or a pedicure. Meeting up with my girlfriends for dinner is obviously out of the question. The gym is closed. I can’t really go ANYWHERE!
To be honest, there’ve been days when I haven’t had any motivation to do the things I know I should be doing to cope. But I’ve been putting one foot in front of the other and going through the motions, hoping that eventually it will pay off and I’ll wake up from this bad dream.
There have still been ups and downs, but I’m starting to figure out how to cope.
3 WAYS I’M SURVIVING QUARANTINE
How each of us copes with quarantine will be different. You have to figure out what works for you.
Here are a few tips to help you do that:
Think about what makes you happy. What do you enjoy doing? Do you have any hobbies?
What can you do to escape from all of the negativity and bad news?
Learn a new skill. You could take an online class or learn how to knit. You can learn almost anything by watching YouTube videos.
Do those things every day or as often as you can.
This is what I’ve been trying to do every day to help me cope:
Walking or Running
For me, art doesn’t have to be anything fancy. If I think about it too hard, I’ll get hung up on being perfect and that’ll stop me from doing it.
Color Your Heart, is a great activity you can do every day that will be kind of like an art journal for how you’re feeling.
Here’s how you do it:
– Write down the feelings you’re having.
– Choose a color to go with each feeling.
– Color in your heart to show how you’re feeling.
Here’s the one I did earlier this week.
My kids found it and wanted to do one too. This is a great activity for helping your kids express how they’re feeling and helps you open up the conversation if you haven’t been sure how to do that.
WALKING OR RUNNING
Just getting outside and moving has been a priority for me over the past few weeks. I usually prefer running, but since I haven’t had much energy lately I’ve been doing a lot more walking.
It doesn’t really matter though. Getting out of the house by myself and moving my body is what helps me!
I love to read and get wrapped up in a book. Sometimes I stay up way too late at night reading, but I guess there could be worse things!
I just finished the book I Owe You One, by Sophie Konsella.
It’s a great book about love, empowerment and how our families make us who we are. It has a happy ending, which we can definitely all use right now!
If you’re looking for a book that’s a little more suspenseful, The Wives by Tarryn Fisher is for you. It will keep you guessing until the very end and you won’t want to put it down.
This post contains Amazon affiliate and other links. As an affiliate, I earn a commission on qualifying purchases.
I’m trying my best to find the good in every day and celebrate the small wins. I know there will still be moments of sadness, fear, and anger about our situation. But what matters most right now is that my family is safe. We’re spending more time together than we ever have and we’re trying to treasure that.
One day this will all be a distant memory!
If you enjoyed reading this, please share it with someone who you think needs to hear it!
I’m coming back to my series on self-care to talk to you about why yoga is the best form of self-care for moms. After last week’s scare, I needed to go to yoga more than ever!
It’s easy to skip my weekly yoga sessions, but when I don’t go I suffer for it. Not only does my anxiety start to ramp up, but my body starts to ache in places it shouldn’t. I’m more irritable and short-fused with my kids, so my family suffers too.
All moms can benefit from yoga. Our bodies go through so much when we have babies and they need self-love to get their strength back after carrying around babies for 9 months. Our organs and ligaments are moved and stretched in ways we never thought possible when we dreamt of having babies. Yoga can help moms realign their mind, body, and soul.
I used to think that you had to be super flexible and able to sit still for long periods of time to do yoga.
I pictured a yogi standing on his head or a buddhist monk sitting in silence bowing with his hands at his heart. Although that might be the goal for some types, it’s not always true.
Moms Can Do Yoga Too
Maybe my misperception about yoga came from the fact that the first time I went to a class, I found myself staring at the teacher with a lost in space look on my face for 90% of the class.
I think that time I had picked the wrong class. There are yoga classes that are tailored more to beginners though and some don’t require much skill at all.
I love to go to Yin Yoga at my gym. According to Yogi Approved “Yin is a slow, soothing, and meditative style of yoga that targets the deep connective tissues, bones, joints, fascia, and ligaments in the body.”
You hold most poses for around 5 minutes so that you can get deeper into each pose. The biggest challenge here is not wiggling and being still. But the best part about the class I go to is the teacher reminds you that it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Just showing up is an accomplishment and there shouldn’t be any judgment for how good our bad you do each pose.
BENEFITS OF DOING YOGA
The stress we endure as moms builds up over time. If we don’t do anything about it, it can be traumatic to our bodies emotionally and physically.
Our Yin instructor constantly reminds us that we should be doing something every day to reduce some of that stress that our body is holding. It can be as simple as taking 5 minutes a day to do child’s pose and focus on taking deep breaths.
5 Benefits Of Yoga For Moms
IT HELPS WITH STRESS RELIEF
By doing deep breathing and meditating techniques during yoga, you retrain your brain to slow down. Alot of different emotions can come up in Yin Yoga. Not only are you going deeper into poses, but you are going deeper into your heart.
Sometimes I start crying without warning. The first time this happened, I thought something was wrong with me! I was so embarrassed and tried to hide my tears, but the instructor must have seen me.
She said to let whatever emotions stir up be what they are. To notice them and be aware of them, but not to judge yourself for them. It can be really cleansing!
IT LENGTHENS YOUR MUSCLES AND MAKES YOUR BODY STRONGER
Yin yoga targets lengthening and stretching your deep connective tissue. The more you do this, the more you actually slow your body’s aging process. I don’t know about you, but after having kids, I feel like my body has aged 100 years so I can use all the help I can get to restore my youth!
IT HELPS INCREASE YOUR BALANCE
You won’t do too many difficult poses that require you to stand on your head during Yin Yoga, but staying in a pose for 5 minutes is still challenging. Some people even find this type of yoga harder than other types like Ashtanga which is super fast paced.
IT HELPS CLEAR YOUR MIND
How many hundreds of things do moms have on our mind at any given time? When you go to yoga, you are encouraged to focus on the here and now.
It may take you a few moments or even a few sessions to be able to turn off the never-ending to-do list in your head, but it helps to have a quiet space with little distractions.
IT CAN BE A PLACE TO MAKE FRIENDS
If you find the right yoga studio, it can be a great place to make friends with other moms who understand the struggles of mom life. You have to get out there and try to build your village.
People who do yoga are almost always more calm for at least a few minutes afterward. You can take advantage of that and strike up a conversation with the other mom’s in the class. You could comment on your neighbor’s yoga mat or ask them where they got their yoga pants. You never know. You might connect with someone new!
Yoga may not be for everyone, but for me it’s a must. If I don’t go to yoga at least once a week, I notice a big difference in my mood and my body. I hope you’ll give it a try!
Even if there isn’t a yoga studio near you, you can find some pretty good videos online. If you just can’t find the time to do it by yourself, there is a really cute program on youtube that you can do with your kids called Cosmic Kids. My kids love it!
Make sure to share this post on social media if you liked it so that others can read it too!
Moms know that self-care is crucial to survival. Without taking care of ourselves, we end up burnt out, exhausted and short-fused.
But self-care means something different for everyone. It’s whatever makes you feel better and how you find peace in the chaos.
I rounded up 10 different mommy bloggers and asked them what self-care means to them. Here’s what they had to say:
ASK THESE QUESTIONS
Rianna Lynn writes about how her anxiety spiked after spending a day kayaking on the lake. When she realized she had to go home to all the things she had to do and go get her kids, she felt overwhelmed and exhausted.
She states, “Postpartum Anxiety and Postpartum Depression can manifest as pure exhaustion some days. Oftentimes we overlook taking care of our basic needs when we are responsible for tiny humans, so remind yourself to stop and check-in with your body and see what you need.
Have I eaten a nutritious meal recently?
Did I drink enough water today?
Am I trying to pile too many things into my day?
Have I moved my body today?
Have I been outside today?
If you can check off each of these simple self-care steps, you will feel more like a human being when your PPA/PPD is weighing on you.
Read more about her take on self-care for PPA and PPD on her blog riannalynn.com.
“I never knew that once I became a mom, my world would be turned upside down. Prior to motherhood, I was a very active, sporty person who loved to go skiing during the weekend. Needless to say, after I became a mom, this was no longer an option.
And this extends beyond ski trips. For example, if I want to go for a run or to the gym, I must find someone to look after my child. This is not always easy, especially when we don’t have family around where we live. The alternative? I opt for doing little things at home to ensure my wellness is looked after.
One of the things I love doing is yoga via Youtube. I can do this when my baby is taking her nap. Sometimes I’ll even stretch with her. She finds it amusing whenever I do a downward facing dog pose. Additionally, to care for my mental health, I started a blog! This helps me to unwind my thoughts about the many difficulties such as breastfeeding and maternity leave. I believe that self-care can be achieved as long as one puts it as a priority.”
SELF-CARE IS SACRED
Mikaela at The Messy Bun Mommy writes, “Self-care looks different on every mom. Some moms love working out, some like getting their hair and nails done, and some simply like to take long hot baths after the babies are in bed.
For me personally, self-care is just anything that I can fit into my day that is just for me. This can be a wide range of things from working out to just taking a couple extra minutes in the shower.
During self-care time it is important to remember that you cannot properly care for your children if you don’t take care of yourself. Self-care, to me, is investing in yourself so that you have the ability to share your wealth with your children.
Sometimes it is difficult to find the time, but just a few minutes a day to take a breath and bring your mind back to your body and self can help so much. Chasing babies is hard. Raising babies is hard. Don’t let your tires go flat, because then you can’t move forward.”
For me self care can be something as simple as eating your favorite candy after the baby is in bed and you can actually enjoy it without having to share with your little one. Or a really good face mask after a nice hot shower while your partner is watching the baby. It doesn’t have to be anything big really.
After all it is very important to recharge your own battery even if it is only five minutes a day. Like they always say “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.
One thing I really do enjoy a lot is getting out and for a pedicure once a month. That is self-care and well deserved alone time combined. A pedicure is a great thing to do with a friend too if you prefer that.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH FIRST
Hannah Denison is starting to get back into the self-care routine as a new mom. Here’s what she had to say about how:
“Self-care is so necessary. As a first time mum it took a step on the back burner for me. My daughter is now a little over 19 months and I’m getting back into finding out what self-care means to me. At 19 months, we finally have her routine down. I know she will take an afternoon nap, around an hour long, and go to bed at 6:30 pm. She usually gets a solid 12 hours.
Now in the evening, I find myself with time for self-care. For me self-care starts with my health and eating right. At night I meal prep to make sure I’m eating right everyday with how busy it can get running around after a toddler. One thing I make every night is over night oats which have many health benefits and even can help with milk production . This is very important to me as I continue to breastfeed.
My favorite part of self care though is making myself feel and look good. Just last week I painted my nails for the first time in months and I had forgotten how good it felt to feel more put together. I even had a mum friend compliment me on my nails the next day which felt great!
I also do face masks a few times in the week. I love the feeling of my skin after a face mask and taking the time during them to relax. I definitely neglected these things whilst finding my footing as a new mum, but am glad to be practicing self care more regularly now as I find my rhythm as a mum.”
Monica at Just Being Monica juggles two jobs as well as her job as a mom. She shared these tips on how she makes it work:
Self-care means putting myself first so I can be around for a long time to watch my daughter grow up.
With kids, work and everything else, life can get hectic very quickly. I’m aware of the time and take frequent breaks going for walks, taking a few deep breaths, stretching my body.
Taking care of myself is essential to ensure I can be a better mother to my little one, look after my furbabies and excel in my two jobs.
I focus on my wellbeing, and these are a few things I try to do:
Don’t take too much on. Learn to say NO.
Sleep well. The body and brain need it.
Eat healthy food.
Don’t stress about what I can’t control.
Concentrate on solutions, not problems.
Exercise daily. It gives me more energy.
Read a book. Reading is excellent for the mind and the soul.
Meditate. It quiets the mind and reduces anxiety and stress.
Spend quality time with my daughter and dogs.
Get help when I need it.
REFILL YOUR BATTERY
My name is Karissa, a boy mama and blogger at FitMommyStrong, I help new & expecting moms prepare for postpartum/life after birth day!
Personally self-care to me means getting ANY kind of alone time for yourself that will allow you to refill your battery for the day. As a toddler mama, this usually comes in short spurts throughout the day such as 1-hr nap time = 30 mins nap for myself and then knocking out some chores.
I also try to schedule myself time throughout the month on days my husband is home where I can simply get out of the house alone. Whether it’s to run errands, get a haircut, etc…I truly think it’s individually based. I’m very introverted, so I tend to go for more introverted activities if that makes sense 🙂 Regardless, refill those cups mama – you deserve it!
AVOID THE RINSE & REPEAT CYCLE
Jody at Solid Parent knows how important self-care is. Here’s what she had to say:
“As a mother who works full time and raises three kids, I find that self-care is the most important part of my week. Too many times I have found myself trapped in what I call the rinse and repeat cycle. I cook, I clean, I help with homework, I read books, I play make-believe and I work. If I don’t take time for myself, I get down and out and depressed.
My go-to self-care routine is taking a nice hot bath, surrounded by scented candles and soft music in the background. After the bath, I like to put on a guided meditation. One that is rooted in gratitude and abundance. I enjoy just sitting quietly, without any interruptions.
My second favorite self-care trick is to make a plan with a couple of friends to go out and listen to live music. I love to dance and I love live music. This is not something I get to do weekly, but I do try for it every couple of weeks to once a month. It makes me feel like Jody for a moment, instead of wife or mother.
When I don’t take time for myself, my whole family suffers. They need me to be at my best, so I can rise them up as well!”
SCHEDULE IT IN
Hi, I’m Jenn, and I write at healthyhappyimpactful.com! I’ve got three kids ages 8,5, and 1. After my second child, I realized that self-care was something I had to fight for if I wanted a happy life.
As a mom, we put everyone else first, but often put ourselves on the back burner. This was leading to a lot of stress and anxiety.
So, now I schedule, schedule, schedule. Time with friends. Morning exercise and meditation. Even the little things like taking a bath on Wednesday nights are in there. You have to make it a priority!
She writes, “Self-care, to me is about allowing myself a bit of extra time in the morning before my toddler wakes up for the day. So that I can get in some breathing space, a hot coffee, and maybe a quick yoga practice.
Self-care activities in my world are small but performed often. It’s breathing exercises in the car or mini foot massages while I read my daughter a story. It’s taking time to notice how my body feels and what I’m really needing to nourish it in that moment.
The ultimate act of self-care to me is slowing down and accepting when you need that extra bit of time and giving yourself that breathing room.
I’d encourage every mother to reframe the way they think about self-care as a necessity instead of a luxury. The more we take care of ourselves, the better placed we are to take care of our children.”
Even though they all have a different idea about what taking care of themselves means, these moms all know how important it is. Make sure to check out their blogs to read more about how they survive the challenges of motherhood!
So let’s be real. The gift that moms really want is not something you can buy from a store. What moms really want is to be able to drink their coffee while it’s hot and pee alone in peace. The best gift you can give is to take the kids out of the house so they can do whatever they please for a few hours.
But if you insist on buying a Valentine’s gift for the mom in your life here a few ideas. Better yet, give her one or two of these gifts and then take the kids out of the house so she can actually use them!
I’m doing a series on self-care. So I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my favorite things that I like to use to take care of myself.
IDEAS TO HELP YOU GET ORGANIZED
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an affiliate, I earn a commission on qualifying purchases.
I love anything by Kate Spade. How cute is this journal my sister-in-law got me for Christmas? She has good taste!
I would love to have this sticky note set to write my never ending to-do lists. They may never get done, but at least they would look good!
If the mom in your life is anything like me, when they get the chance to relax in the tub, they light a candle too. These Woodwick Candles make a crackling sound when you burn them. So they help soothe your sense of sound more than just a regular candle would.
BOOKS TO READ
I love to read any chance I get. Getting into a good book can really help me forget about whatever mom stress I’m dealing with. The only downside is that I stay up too late reading. Then I still have to get up super early to take my kids to school. I don’t think that’s going to stop me anytime soon though. Here are a few of my favorite books that I’ve read recently:
GIFTS TO PAMPER
Most of the time, moms are the ones to get up in the middle of the night with the crying baby, so we often lose sleep. Kate Somerville’s Intensive Exfoliating Treatment can help! It improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles including crow’s feet. The best part is that it only takes 2 minutes to use! A little goes a long way so don’t let the price tag fool you. You can make the travel size stretch for several months!
You can follow the exfoliator up with this Organic Rose Water by Insta Natural. If you have sensitive skin, I highly recommend this. It not only soothes and hydrates, but it naturally balances your skin’s ph to help you get your natural glow back.
In the Winter, I love to wear my Lamo Moccasin slippers around the house to keep my feet warm. You can never have too many pairs of slippers. Since they do get a little stinky after about a year, it’s nice to trade them out for new ones.
I hope this helps you decide what to get that mom in your life who needs a little help taking care of herself this Valentine’s Day!
If you’re a mom reading this, share what you hope to get for Valentine’s Day. I would have added chocolate, but I kind of want that from a local chocolate store, not the kind you can get on Amazon!
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I haven’t always been a runner though. I played basketball in high school and when our coach made us run suicides, I was always the last one to cross the line.
When I got to college, I realized I could go for a run without sprinting until I felt like I was going to puke. That’s when I found my love for running. I remember running through campus on Friday afternoons seeing all of the campers getting set up to tailgate during football season.
In the off season, I’d run with some of my friends to where the Florida Gator practice field was and sometimes we’d be lucky enough to see the players leaving the field. There are so many benefits to running that you wouldn’t think of. You can get to more places on foot than you can with a car!
Running To Explore
There have been times when we’ve been on vacation and my husband and I have run in places that we wouldn’t have normally seen if we didn’t go for a run. Once when we were in wine country, we ran for a few miles and explored some of the wineries we wanted to check out later.
There’s nothing like running down the Las Vegas strip before it gets too crowded. You will have to dodge a few homeless people and shameless promoters trying to shove their pamphlets down your throat. You can avoid some of it if you go early enough. If you get out before everyone wakes up from their hang overs, you won’t have to run as much of a maze dodging the sea of tourists.
In the summer you can find me running on the beach in the morning before it gets too hot. I love listening to the waves, the cool breeze next to the water, and the smell of the fresh salty air.
Running is good for bloggers too. Blogging can be really isolating at times. Being your own boss is awesome, most of the time, but sometimes it’s not.
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Somedays I wake up and I just can’t get motivated to write.
There are days when I literally want to crawl back into bed and get up on the other side to see if it feels any better. Sometimes it works, but that usually just makes me groggy and less motivated to write. On those days, the last thing I want to do is run! But if I can just get my shoes on and my butt out the door, that’s usually all it takes.
Once I get outside, I almost always end up running. It may only be for a mile or two sometimes, but even if I walk, I still feel better. Most of the time, I end up running more than I thought I could. I ALWAYS feel so much better after a run. Just being outside can be an instant mood lifter for me. I love the outdoors and need natural vitamin d to make it through my day.
I forget about all the stresses of mom life for a while.
I do some of my best thinking during my runs. Until recently, I ran without my phone because it helped me unplug for 30-40 minutes a few times a week. Then I got some pretty sweet headphones for Christmas, and I’ve grown to appreciate running with music. Sometimes I prefer to be alone with my thoughts though. It doesn’t really matter, as long as I just run.
HERE’S WHY RUNNING HELPS MOMS
1. HELPS YOU FOCUS ON YOURSELF
When you’re running, you can’t see how dirty your house is and you can’t do dishes, fold laundry, or vacuum the floors. You don’t have to wait on your children or break up fights. It’s just you and the road.
2. GETS YOUR ENDORPHINS FLOWING
Runners high is a real thing! Scientists did a study on runner’s brains and found that their prefrontal and limbic systems were releasing endorphins that led to feelings of euphoria and calmness. Apparently, exercising with others or listening to music when you’re alone can increase the spike of endorphins too!
3. INEXPENSIVE EXERCISE
Other than having to get a pair of good shoes, running doesn’t cost you a penny! You can run anywhere and you don’t have to pay crazy gym membership fees. Moms don’t like having to spend money on themselves so this is important!
4. MODELS HEALTHY BEHAVIOR FOR YOUR KIDS
Your kids learn from watching you. If they see you taking care of your body and making exercise a priority, they will hopefully eventually want to do it too.
5. GETS YOU OUT OF THE HOUSE
You know that feeling when you get after being stuck at home with a sick kid for 3 days in a row? I do and it’s not fun! Getting outside to run when it all passes gets me back on my feet. If I can get someone to watch the kids so I can get a break before then, I will quickly take advantage!
6. HELPS PREVENT DISEASE AND ILLNESS
Regular exercise can help reduce your risk for heart disease and several cancers including breast, colorectal, and uterine cancers. It also helps your body regulate its hormone levels which not only reduces your risk for developing cancer, but also helps improve your mood.
7. IMPROVES MEMORY
We all know that mom brain is a real thing, but a study by the mayo clinic has shown that regular exercise may reduce improve your memory and reduce your risk for Alzheimers disease!
8. YOU CAN RUN WITH FRIENDS
It can be hard to keep a conversation going while running, but moms need someone to vent to sometimes. Your running buddy can be your biggest support. If you don’t have one, there are usually running groups you can join in your area.
So get yourself a good pair of running shoes and hit the pavement. If you can’t run, go for a walk. I promise you getting your body moving is worth the effort and you will feel better, even if only temporarily!
Running is alone time that lets my brain unspool the tangles that build up over days.
– Rob Haneisen
These are a few of the ways that running helps moms. If you’re looking for more ways to add in self-care into your daily routine, stay tuned. I will be featuring a series on self-care over the next few weeks. Make sure to follow @momlifewithp on Instagram so you don’t miss anything!
I’ve hesitated to write this post for a while. I didn’t want to “open up a can of worms” about something so dark and depressing. Plus, I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but then I thought, “What if someone really needs to hear it?”
Do I really want to take that chance if maybe what I have to say about such a controversial topic could save a life?
September is National Suicide Awareness Month. And as much as I don’t want to talk about this subject, not talking about it will only feed into the stigma that causes people to follow through with it.
People who are suffering and contemplating taking their own life need to know that they aren’t alone.
They need to know that there are people out there who will listen. People who love them and want to help.
Moms Listen Up
There will be hard days. There may even be days where you think that not living is easier than dealing with the challenges you’re facing with your kids.
Especially for new moms, there WILL be days when your baby wakes you up multiple times in the middle of the night and is inconsolable.
There may be times where you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing and it’s never going to get better.
You might be so sleep deprived that you feel like you can’t function. You won’t be able to remember the last time you showered, the laundry will start piling up, and your house might feel like it’s a disaster.
You may even yell at your baby and think you aren’t worthy of being their mom. I promise you though, you are worthy and it will get better.
Some moms may feel like their kids hate them and no matter what they do, they’ll never make them happy. Those with teens, can probably vouch for this even more than the rest of us.
There may be days when you think you’re totally screwing your child up and they will never make it in the real world. There will most definitely be shouting matches and words said that you won’t be able to take back.
I’m here to tell you that even that will get better.
I remember a phase where I hated my mom and thought she knew nothing. Now I consider her one of my best friends and I turn to her in times of doubt. I may not have shown her much love from the age of 13 to probably 17 or 18. But I needed her and I loved her.
I need her now more than ever.
Everyone Needs To Hear This
Dads need to hear it too.
You are loved!
Even on the days when you feel guilty about working all the time and not spending enough time playing catch or eating dinner with your family. You’re doing a good job and your family needs you!
Brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, nephews, nieces, friends, grandparents- you are loved too.
Everyone is loved and serves a purpose on this earth, even if you don’t feel it right now.
In your darkest hour, you may not be able to see what that purpose is. But I promise, you have a purpose!
Please don’t give up. Reach out for help. Find a reason to live and remember that you are loved.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition.
Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.
The month of September is spent to increase awareness, decrease the stigma, and provide resources for those who are affected by suicide.
Below are the steps that NAMI lists to take in crisis situations:
If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
If you’re in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).
You can also text NAMI at 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.
Even after I wrote this, I was doubting whether or not I should post it.
Then when I was getting dressed this morning, I saw three words stitched on the inside of my leggings. The words You Are Loved. I have at least 4 other pairs of black leggings, but these are the ones that I picked up to wear today. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.
Please reach out for help if you or someone you know is suffering. They don’t need to suffer in silence anymore.
Inside: Debunking 4 Myths about Self-Care and how to avoid believing them.
Most of us know the importance of taking care of ourselves. Even though we often don’t always make the time, moms especially know that we have to take care of our own sanity so that we can take care of our family. But we often make excuses about why we don’t engage in self-care as moms.
These are some of the common reasons that people don’t spend as much time taking care of themselves as they should.
4 Myths of Self-Care Debunked
1. It Costs Too Much
While it may sound nice to get an hour-long massage and a spa pedicure once a week, its not the only way to practice self-care. There are tons of things you can do for yourself to help relieve stress that won’t cost a penny!
One of my favorite stress relievers is taking a warm bubble bath and leaving my devices in another room so I’m forced to just relax for a few minutes. Don’t forget to lock the door so your family will leave you alone!
2. I Don’t Have Enough Time
Again, you don’t have to get crazy here. The point is to find an amount of time that works for you and make sure you stick to it. The best thing you can do is schedule at least 30 minutes a week that are devoted to doing something that you enjoy. The more time you can do it the better, but it’s ok to start small.
3. I Don’t Know How
I struggle with this sometimes, especially since it’s so hard to slow down when I have the time. I used to avoid going to yoga classes because I was afraid that it was too hard and I felt like I couldn’t get into it mentally. A good yoga instructor will encourage you to come as you are and not judge yourself for being anxious. Just showing up for the class is better than not even going and I often have to remind myself that.
But self-care is also subjective. So if yoga is not your thing that’s ok. Maybe self-care for you means going for a walk and paying attention to your surroundings for 15 minutes.
Sometimes self-care simply means saying, “No” when someone asks you to do something and you feel like you already have too much on your plate.
4. Self-care is Selfish
This is probably the biggest myth of self-care on this list. Taking care of yourself is not only unselfish, but it’s also vital to keeping your self sane so that you can be a good mom.
As psychotherapist, Jenn Bovee says, “YOU deserve to take care of you, just as much as others deserve to have you take care of them. That means you CANNOT come last. You are not “bad” or self-indulgent” if you put yourself first. I don’t care what you’ve been taught.”
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Engaging in self care can be so hard when you’re a busy mom. We get so busy taking care of our kids, that we often forget to take care of ourselves. But if we don’t, stress builds up and our families suffer!
Self care for busy moms means remembering to feed ourselves, getting enough sleep and loving ourselves despite our mistakes and flaws.
How many times have you heard a new mom say they forgot to eat lunch?
I struggle with this myself, but one thing that has helped me is to make a list of activities that are instant mood lifters. That way when I do have time to myself I don’t end up wasting it trying to figure out what to do. Or I don’t waste it by doing chores around the house instead of taking time to relax.
When I was a child therapist, I often used I used the metaphor of the oxygen mask with parents. When you fly on an airplane they tell you during the safety announcement that if you’re traveling with small children you should put on your own oxygen mask and then help your children put theirs on. That’s because if you don’t, you will pass out and won’t be able to help your kids.
Here are 8 SELF-CARE TIPS for busy moms:
I love to run and always feel better after I do. Running increases the endorphins that boost seratonin in your brain. Serotonin is known as the “don’t worry be happy” neurotransmitter.
Sometimes exercise can even be more effective than medication at increasing seratonin levels. If I don’t feel like running, I still put my running shoes on and go for a walk.
2. Write In A Journal
Writing can be very therapeutic for me, when I actually slow down enough to do it. This is a big part of why I enjoy blogging.
When I journal, I try to just write whatever comes to my mind and not worry about if it even makes sense. My journaling is for me and not for anyone else to read. This can be a really powerful self care tool for moms who feel isolated much of the time.
3. Deep Breathing
Our brains need oxygen to function properly. Most of us don’t get enough oxygen to keep stress at bay by the breath that we take day to day.
There are some great relaxation apps out there, but my current favorite is the Breathe app on my Apple Watch. It guides me through a deep breathing exercise for one minute, and vibrates when I should exhale. The best part is that my watch reminds me to do the exercise every day so I don’t forget.
Yoga has so many health benefits, but the biggest one for me is how it forces me to unplug from technology and focus on my breathing.
I really enjoy taking a yoga class at my gym that’s an hour long since sometimes it takes me a while to clear my head. The instructor has a very soothing voice. She uses guided meditation along with relaxing music to help you center and ground yourself.
5. Get Some Vitamin D
Our bodies need vitamin D to produce that “happy” chemical serotonin that I mentioned before. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mood disorder featuring depressive symptoms that occurs during the dark times of the year where there is little sunshine.
We can get vitamin D naturally though sunlight, but for most people that’s not enough. I take vitamin D at least October- March, but recently have been taking it year round and it’s really helped me.
Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your vitamin level and they can run bloodwork to see if it’s low.
6. Read A Book
There’s nothing like a great book to take you away to another place for a while. I check out books digitally for free from my local library using an app called Libby.
As a former therapist, I am a big proponent of seeking therapy when you need it. Unfortunately there is a stigma surrounding mental health and too many people suffer in silence.
A mental health therapist can be a good resource for helping you talk through challenging seasons in your life. They can also keep you accountable to make sure you are engaging in self care. Psychology Today is a great resource for finding counselors in your area.
I’ve written several posts about how I’ve dealt with my own depression and anxiety. Here are a few that you might find helpful if you’re struggling:
These are some of my top choices for self care that help me make sure I’m getting enough oxygen. I’m always working on growing this list. I’d love for you to share your favorite self-care tips for busy moms in the comments!