Has it been one of those days? One of those days when you feel frazzled, the only adult company you’ve had was a wave at the postman and you feel yourself starting to slowly lose your mind? We’ve all been there!
I’ve put together this list 10 effective ways to practice self care in 10 minutes, all tried and tested by me. As an added bonus for Mums these can all be practiced in your downstairs loo or at your kitchen sink, because sometimes waiting until the kids have gone to bed just feels like too long to wait.
And before we start there are a few things to know; it’s ok to set aside some time DAILY (how lavish) to let yourself eat your lunch or drink your tea without dealing with a toddler request. Go right ahead and tell your wee ones that you’re unavailable for the next X minutes. They. Will. Be. Fine.
Secondly when you’re feeling really frustrated do a quick body scan. Is there a pressing physical need you’ve been ignoring as you tend to your children? Is your bra strap sliding down your arm? Do you need a wee? Are you too hot? Did you skip lunch? You might be surprised how much calmer you’ll feel if you take care of any physical irritations you’ve been ignoring.
Ten Self Care Exercises for Mum
1. Do Some Affirmations – it’s rare that I’d ever speak highly of myself but this a great way to shift your mindset and appreciate another (probably more accurate) perspective of you situation. This habit can force you into saying positive things to yourself. Prepare a mantra in advance that centres on some self-love or just recite 3 things you’re grateful for right at that moment. It can be something as simple as “Even though I’m feeling impatient I’m a loving parent who is capable of being patient and I’m getting better at it every day.” Write your affirmation as an answer to the feeling that overwhelms you frequently,
2.Take Ten Deep Breaths – during my Hypnobirthing course I learnt all about how our anxiety effects our breathing and how our breathing effects our anxiety. It can be a vicious circle. Go to the loo, and BREATHE all the day down to your belly. Maybe think your mantra as you do that?
3. Stretch – I was sceptical of this but doing some gentle standing stretches can work wonders. It releases tension and gets the energy flowing again. Plus it adjusts your postures, helping you hold yourself confidently as you face your day.
4. Moisturise – this is a favourite of mine. Washing your face or hands can help you physically and mentally wash away tensions, for me it feels like a metaphorical restart. Massaging in a light moisturiser will active your sense of touch, smell and sight. Touch is a calming and wonderfully loving thing to do for someone but how often do we ever care for ourselves in that way? Be physically kind to yourself, you’ll feel refreshed and cared for by the time you’re done.
5. Drink a big glass of water – don’t gulp it, be mindful! Listen to it fill the glass, notice the reflections, feel the coolness of the glass, swallow it deliberately, appreciate the good it will do your body. Dehydration makes us twitchy, stiff and headachey, increasing your water intake is good for body and mind, the added mindfulness will give you five gentle minutes to centre yourself.
6.Turn off your phone – give yourself permission to be unavailable for 10 (plus) minutes. Even when I’m not checking my phone I’m strangely aware of it all times, aware of the notifications, the scrolling opportunities, the breaking news stories, the potential to socialise. Switching it off and leaving it in a drawer give you a surprising amount of mental freedom.
7.Go outside – I struggle with this in Winter but find it to be so effective if I can motivate myself to do it. The fresh air, the physical movement, the sights, sounds and smells are a great way to ‘get out’ of my head. Plus my kids LOVE outdoors and usually behave far better in the garden than the living room! If you have a garden or nearby park then head out, find the oldest tree you can (hug it if you like!) and put your bad day back into perspective in the shadow of 200 years of growth.
8. A journal – take a few moments to write down three things you’re thankful for that day, three good things you did for other people and 3 good things to look forward to in the next few days – yes you can put the kids’ bedtime in there!)
9. Make a cup of tea – use the fancy cups, the good loose leaf tea, set a small tray. Mothers deserve better than cold tea! When I think of being ‘good to myself’ I often think of buying something but the truth is I don’t want more stuff. My love language is definitely quality time but I rarely make the effort to spend quality time with myself. Give yourself the treat of treating yourself the way you would someone else.
10. Make a plan – often times it feels like there’s no end in sight on those days…but there is! Make a ‘post bedtime plan’ for something nice you’re going to do when you eventually get some time away. Even arranging something simple like phoning a friend can be uplifting.