May is Mental Health Month, and we wanted to take a special moment to think about what self-care looks like for all the moms in our lives and discuss why it’s never been more essential. Unfortunately, moms tend to put their own needs last, and with so many demands on their time and energy, self-care can feel like a luxury. But the truth is, self-care isn't a luxury. Prioritizing mental health and wellness as self-care is a necessity.
Why Is Maternal Self-Care and Wellness Essential?
Moms face unique challenges; from sleepless nights with a newborn to juggling multiple schedules and responsibilities, it's understandable to feel overwhelmed. When you're constantly putting others first, neglecting your needs is easy. And when considering single-parent households, these challenges are at times quadrupled.
However, neglecting your mental health can lead to burnout, anxiety, and depression, making it harder for you to be patient and present. That's why self-care is so essential for moms. By prioritizing your own needs, you'll have more energy and resilience to face whatever comes your way. It’s crucial to remember, though, that your needs might look different than others, and how you go about prioritizing those needs is also unique to you and your lifestyle.
How to Practice Self-Care
Self-care is about caring for your mind, body, and spirit in a way that feels nourishing and fulfilling. Maternal wellness is all about finding room for you, tuning in, and focusing on what nourishes you long-term. And sometimes, this calls for redefining what those ideas mean for a more fulfilled version of you. We asked a few moms in our office to impart some of the wisdom behind their self-care practices, and Jennifer shared with us her approach to long-term, intentional self-care:
“I dig into my personal, private WHY and allow that WHY to lead me to conjure up a word that serves as a solid foundation for my intentions. I try my best every day to steep my words, thoughts, actions, growth, and love in the intention of that word, which is the most profound act of self-love I can do for myself, every day.” - Jennifer
These self-affirmation exercises are wonderfully sustainable and accessible mood and mind boosters for moms who are challenged with finding some alone time on a consistent basis. Here are some more tips to support mamas on their journey to practicing authentic self-care in everyday life.
“Me-time” might seem impossible as a mom, especially for new moms, and just the idea of wanting “me-time” can lead to feelings of resentment, guilt, and then a sense of overwhelm. However, it’s never been more important to recharge in small moments wherever you can. It doesn’t have to be a yoga class or a trip to the spa. For new moms, it may look like using nap time to focus on yourself instead of attending to chores, etc., which can be challenging for some. Maybe plan on splurging on a sitter once a month, swap out childcare with someone you know, or take up your friend's offer to babysit for you. That being said, “me-time” can look different for each person. It can be cozying up to a book or article you have been meaning to read or simply enjoying a nourishing meal while listening to a favorite podcast or watching your favorite reality TV show.
We asked a couple of busy moms how they fit “me-time” into their schedules:
"As a busy working mom of twins, I have learned that the key to finding time for myself is flexibility. So often, life has a way of derailing even the best-laid plans, so I've learned to pivot quickly and find short windows of time to focus on myself. Whether it's dedicating 10 minutes to meditate, indulging in my evening skincare routine when the kids fall asleep, or even listening to a podcast after school drop-off—the small effort it takes each day to squeeze in me-time compounds and really pays off. For me, it's the little things, and I am truly grateful for them!" - Jillian
“Juggling a busy work life while prioritizing motherhood takes a lot of creativity. As a mom of an only child, I’m always up for creative ways that allow at least an hour in the day (or the week!) for some downtime. My new favorite thing is to call up a mom-friend and schedule a “playdate” for both mom and kid and while our boys are busy building Lego cars, my friend and I catch up on reading, napping, “girl talk,” or we’ll get the foot massagers out. Any time is a good time for me-time!” - Jessica
Taking time for a social activity that helps you connect with your interests and who you are outside of being a mom can help maintain an essential connection to yourself. Whatever it is, make sure you try to make time for it regularly or as often as you can.
Take Daily Mini Mental Health Breaks
It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life, but taking a few minutes to pause and breathe can make a big difference. Take a short walk outside, meditate, or do some deep breathing exercises. Try setting the timer, close your eyes, and breathe deeply for five minutes. For those struggling through a hard time or with their mental health, try doing somatic therapy exercises. These interrupt anxious thoughts and bring about balance and a deep sense of being present in our bodies. Doing somatic work daily, even for a few short minutes a day, will help reset your nervous system over time.
Write in a Journal
Taking the time to write in a journal can be a peaceful and mindful activity. Not only does it help to balance our emotions, but it also provides us with a space to reflect and dream. Plus, it's a great way to capture meaningful moments and memories with our loved ones, especially the funny and heartwarming things your little ones say.
With little ones, sleeping through the night can be a challenge. New parents are often low on sleep, and it is inevitable. But over time, not getting enough restorative rest can have a serious impact on your health and well-being. If your little ones wake up with the sun full of energy, try to orient your bedtime shortly after theirs, if possible, even though it can be tempting to cram in things from your to-do list. This will lead to burnout. Instead, make sure you sleep in a cool, dark room, and try to avoid scrolling on a blue light-emitting device before bed.
Take a Long Shower or Bath
When kids are finally asleep at the end of the long day, it can be challenging to unwind and prepare for the evening. This practice of transitioning from a hectic day to restful evenings can be tricky but is essential. Soaking in warm water can be an easy way to relax, reflect, and rejuvenate. You can go the extra mile and really take the time to immerse yourself into a skincare ritual with indulgent products you love. We love a deep cleanse with Tru Alchemy’s Mystic Mask and drench our complexion with nourishing hydration with Tru Alchemy’s Quench Crème.
Get Support from Others
The truth is, we all need help sometimes. When it feels like more than the baby blues, or you find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local parent group, or your kids’ school might have some great resources available. Of course, there are also friends, family, or a professional therapist for support and guidance when you need it most. You can also try writing a handwritten letter to your best friend, even if just to say how your day was. This one is particularly good for single moms who often feel isolated in the day-in-day-out of the busy work-parenting life. It’s a good idea to reach out to at least one person a day, and writing a letter is a good way to stay connected to the world.
With more awareness in society surrounding mental health in general, especially for the challenges motherhood brings, there has never been a better time to feel okay to ask for help.
When we take time ourselves, we fill our own cup. Self-care can look different for everyone, whether it’s a grounding walk in nature, a pampering beauty treatment, or therapeutic work on ourselves with the help of a professional. As long as it’s nourishing and investing in yourself, we love to see it.