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!
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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!
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!