Updated: Mar 3, 2021
We are riding some seriously choppy waves right now, and you may be feeling the burn on a deeply personal level.
We may feel exhausted with stress, worry and overwhelm, struggling to think clearly or make decisions. Your fuse may be a stub right now, making your reactions feel extreme and irrational. You may feel angry with yourself for not coping ‘better’ or making ‘unhealthy’ choices. Or perhaps you’re feeling ridden with guilt, convinced you’re failing at everything and letting everyone down - including yourself.
We are up against SO MUCH at the moment and being squeezed and stretched to our very limits. And while it’s often easier to be hard on ourselves than kind, I’m realising how essential it is not to underestimate or normalise what we’ve been going through this last year.
It’s been so significant, exhausting and worrying and put us under pressures we may never have had to face before.
Naturally that may be taking its toll on you, so I here are a few of the ways I’m trying to actively support and care for myself through this minefield right now, in case they might help you too.
1. Practice self-compassion
We need all the compassion, support and kindness we can get our mitts on right now. So, if you hear your inner critic talking you down on the reg, try your HARDEST to hit mute on the negativity and exchange it for a more supportive and empathetic script. Cut yourself some slack and muster up some gentle encouragement for your lovely self.
Remind yourself every day that it’s ok to find this hard and have bad days, because this IS hard! You are only human, you are doing your best and it’s ok to feel all your emotions, even the hard ones. The more you repeat this mantra back to yourself, the more you’ll start to believe it.
2. Empty your mind
When your mind is full to the brim and your thoughts are overwhelmingly tangled in knots, the best thing you can do is clear some space for yourself.
Journaling is a powerful way to empty and calm your mind and clarify your thoughts. Letting your thoughts freely flow onto paper and releasing the tension and stress swimming around your head can be hugely liberating and support you to process everything going on for you. The amazing thing about journaling is that there is no right or wrong way to do it either. You could write 2 lines or 2 pages, notes, doodles or full sentences. It's a practice where you can find your unique flow and express yourself freely for you, and only you.
3. Set boundaries
Many of us may find that our boundaries feel really blurred right now, with work and homelife overlapping like never before and our emotions feeling especially magnified. So, welcoming more of what makes us feel good into our lives and blocking out the less constructive forces has never been more important!
Put your own wants and needs first by saying NO when you mean ‘No’ (without guilt). Distance yourself from the people or things that drain you and focus on the things that lift you up. Manage expectations with family or colleagues if you feel like you are drowning. And consider creating boundaries around your social media or news consumption if you are feeling bombarded.
At a time when so much feels out of our control, finding ways to feel in control of your own life will help you stay grounded and protect your precious energy.
4. Stay connected
It’s so easy to look inwards right now and retreat into our own safe, familiar bubbles. Life is slow and uneventful, we are ‘Zoomed out’ and ‘normal’ socialising feels kind of alien. So our natural inclinations to connect have been diluted somewhat.
But coaxing ourselves to step out of our comfort zone and reach out to other like-minded people in our lives may actually have a really liberating and mood boosting effect, supporting us to feel less isolated, more connected to ourselves and more supported through these challenging times.
5. The power of nature!
Getting outdoors is so good for the soul! Especially when the weather is rubbish it can be so tempting to stay indoors wrapped up warm. BUT getting outdoors and letting fresh air into our lungs is SO AMAZING for our wellbeing. Whether it is a roam in the woods, a hike in the hills, a simple stroll around the block or a simple cuppa standing in the garden.
Nature and fresh air have so many benefits. It helps us clear our heads and can be an amazing mood booster. It gets us away from technology and stimulates creativity. It encourages us to move our bodies and also has a real grounding effect when we feel stressed. Even a few minutes a day will do you wonders!
6. Move your body!
When you’re juggling all the balls and feel totally drained by everything I KNOW the idea of being active can feel like so much effort. But even a short burst of movement in a way that feels good to you (as opposed to chasing after your kids!) will make such a difference to your mental wellbeing.
Whether it's a walk round the block, a short yoga stretch, a 10 minute online workout or having a kitchen boogie - releasing those positive endorphins, getting your blood pumping and clearing your head can be a game changer. Moving your body is food for the mind, body and soul!
7. Give your self-esteem a boost
Do you feel like you’ve stopped making so much effort with yourself this year? With minimal arrangements in the diary, less social contact and so much time spent behind closed doors with the same people the incentive to invest time and energy into making ourselves look or feel good may feel less compelling! Maybe loungewear has become the norm, your greys have taken on a life of their own, or the nightly glass of wine is taking its toll on your complexion?
Even the smallest gestures can make a BIG difference to our self-esteem and self-worth and will help us to show up feeling a bit more confident and positive in our own skin. So, why not ditch the trackies and rock an outfit that makes you feel good now and again? A lick of mascara, a flash of lippy or a spritz of perfume might give you a little lift. Or treat yourself to a weekly face mask, to give your skin a fresh glow. Give it a go, as you most definitely deserve some self-love right now!
Ultimately, as Mums we invest so much time and energy into showing up for everyone else. But to show up for others you first need to show up for your biggest and most valuable asset – YOURSELF! So even if you invest 10 minutes a day in caring for your precious self, I promise it will make all the difference.
The Parenthood Coach