Where did self-care go?

meditateIs mum life really the answer to this question? Chances are, your children may have inspired you to be your healthiest self before they were in your arms. So what has changed? Let’s consider the journey to ‘mummyhood’ and figure out where caring for ourselves was lost.

At the beginning, the instant you make that decision to grow your family and have a baby, your life changes. You become more conscious about your health, you cut down on alcohol and processed foods and you adopt any practice that will improve your chances of conceiving. You read everything you can on fertility and you dream about the kind of mum you want to be. If, like me, falling pregnant takes a lot longer than you expected, you start to take on a holistic approach to health. No chemicals, no sugar, a kitchen bursting with fertility friendly foods and you take part in activities that promote both physical and emotional wellbeing. You’re probably the healthiest you have ever been.

When you finally get the amazing news that you are pregnant, you are probably the healthiest and happiest you have ever been. During pregnancy, you take care of yourself like never before. If you’re tired you rest, you put your feet up or take a nap. Some foods are now totally out of the question and your focus is on nutritious and nourishing foods. You become so in tune with your body, noticing every feeling and change and you make any adjustment needed to feel comfortable. Gentle movement, breathing exercises and affirmations become part of your daily routine. Plus everyone around you does everything they can to nurture you. The greatest motivation to looking after you is your growing baby. You matter so very much.

Then your bundle of joy arrives earth side and while people still care very much about your wellbeing, it’s all about that beautiful baby. A few weeks into ‘mummyhood’, it’s likely that you are no longer a priority to yourself, your life totally revolves around your little one. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, they need us so much. But they need us to be at our healthiest and happiest too. When they were in the womb they thrived on this. Now that they are lying beside us, what has changed? You still matter so much!

I believe that mum life is a distraction from ourselves. But we always have a choice, just like before when we made those positive choices for our health and wellbeing. As mums, we don’t have an abundance of time or freedom for ourselves so we need to re-define what self-care means for us now. It may look completely different. We may think we have no time for self-care, are too busy or too tired. These are obstacles that we can easily remove with a change in perspective, check out my article on this here. So what is left, is for us to make a choice to reclaim our health and wellbeing. Our greatest motivation is our family, just like before. Are you ready to rediscover the benefits of self-care again? What is one thing that you can do today for you? Self-care isn’t always about ‘me first’, it’s about ‘me too’.

I am so passionate about women, especially mums living their healthiest and happiest lives. I know first-hand that this benefits everyone around us. If self-care is the missing piece to the puzzle for you then you may be interested in my Shine Bright Mama workshop and the Shine Bright Mama 30 days of self-care journey that I will be running again soon on Instagram. For more details you can visit my website here, or contact me here.

Shine Bright Mama.xx

Shine Bright Mama – How to make time for self-care

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Mama, you matter. Making time for self-care is not a luxury, it’s essential. But one of the biggest roadblocks to creating this time, is thinking that we just don’t have the time. If I told you that wasn’t true, you’d probably consider that a joke. But when we dive in a little deeper, you might find that you do, indeed have time for you. We can solve this roadblock from the inside out, starting with our thought patterns and mindset. Let’s take a look at three ways we can change our thinking around time and how to find that sacred time for us.

Too busy

What does being too busy really look like and mean to you? Yes, we have a lot going on with our children, relationships, home life, work life etc. It’s more than a balancing act at times. However, when we take a closer look it may be our thoughts and the language we use in relation to busy-ness that is the real obstacle. It honestly comes down to what is important to us. I love Dr Libby’s approach to this thought on not having the time. Rather than saying ‘I don’t have time for that’ or ‘I’m too busy for that’, change it to, ‘That isn’t a priority for me’. You will always have time for what is important to you. And mama you are important! You are worth taking care of, you just need to make the choice.

Perception of time

Consider the quote, “I have so much to do today, I better meditate twice as long.” Initially it may seem counter-intuitive but it is so incredibly true. I realised early on what works best for me is that when Isla goes down for her nap, the first thing I do is something that refuels me. I do a yoga dvd, have a cup of tea and read a book or do some writing, if I’m feeling particularly tired I’ll lie down and close my eyes. After about half an hour, I’m ready tackle my ‘to do’ list and I get it done quickly and easily. The chores aren’t so much of a chore because I’ve done something good for myself first. I’m not spending the whole time thinking: ‘once this is done, and that is done I can finally relax.’ Because I’ve already relaxed. When you’ve taken some time for you, time seems to expand and you feel like there is enough of it to complete all of your tasks. In my experience, when I’m solely focussed on completing chores, it never happens that way and I run out of time. If this is your experience too, try taking a break to refuel yourself before you get moving again.

Just say no

This is a biggie! Everything that fills up your day, you have said yes to and only you can make the choice to change this. Truth bomb!! I know for a lot of us, we become all things to all people. Often trying to hold on to elements of our lifestyle before kids, plus taking care of our kids and pleasing others too. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. The simple act of saying ‘no’ can be freeing. You may think that saying no is difficult, but when it comes down to the doing and the over filled schedule, saying ‘yes’ is actually more difficult. It may feel challenging at first, but finding a way to say ‘no’ with love will be one of the best things you can do for you. Be honest with those around you about your time, your commitments and priorities. Be honest about needing time to yourself. Respect yourself and your time, and when you show that you respect your time, others will respect your time too. If you create boundaries from a place of love and self-care, you’ll be rewarded for it. Create these healthy boundaries then lovingly enforce them without the guilt.

Mama, it’s no longer ok to put yourself last. Self-care everyday is a non-negotiable and the benefits will ripple outward. I like to think of us as the sun, and when we are looking after ourselves and shining our brightest, those warm, energising, nurturing and nourishing rays are reaching those around us, touching and impacting on their lives too.

I know self-care is important to you and I would love to meet you at my Shine Bright Mama workshop in August. We’ll explore:

+ Why self-care is the best ‘health care’
+ How to make self-care a priority and part of your routine
+ How to get in touch with what really lights you up and refuels you
+ Ways to create time for self-care
+ How to remove the guilt from your ‘mama me time’
+ Practical tips and ideas to truly nurture you

You will leave feeling inspired and motivated with an action plan to incorporate self-care into your daily routine. Follow this link for more details and to book your space. I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Shine bright mama.xx

Ten Tips to Help Create Balance in Your Life by Rachel Stokes

Whether you have children or not, balance is a word that comes up a lot. We’ve all been there; a huge week of work or study, social occasions, relationships to maintain, a house to keep clean, mouths to feed, pets to walk, many things to be done. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness and feel frazzled. I’ve been there, I’m sure I’m not alone.

I came across this blog post at just the right time. It was exactly the words I needed to read to get me through a huge week. This topic is close to my heart and I just had to share it with you!

Rachel StokesRachel Stokes is incredibly passionate about health and wellbeing, particularly preventative health care. Her beautiful blog and Facebook page provides invaluable knowledge about the nutrients our bodies need for vitality. Nutrition is only one aspect of health.  Wellness requires balance in the areas of relationships, career, physical activity, spirituality and having clarity around your life’s purpose.

As a busy, working and studying mother with four children (four!!), I couldn’t think of a better person to help us all out with the pursuit of balance. If anyone can provide insight, valuable practices and simple strategies for us all to create more balance in our lives it is definitely Rachel.

Ten Tips to Help Create Balance in Your Life

Balance-10-self-care-tips-for-the-blog-300x240Juggling a family, career and a social life is a balancing act. There is nothing I love more than being a mum. I also love having a rewarding career and having a social life. However, life can be challenging, it is easy to stop taking care of yourself. You have other people you are responsible for and there are always demands for our attention. In order to be the best mum, friend and wife you can be you have to be healthy, happy, well rested and in balance. I know this is so much easier said than done. I am not here to preach. For years my life had no balance. It took more than a slap in the face with a cold fish to snap me out of it too. That’s a story for another day.  Here are 10 self -care tips you can implement straight away:

  1. Take one day at a time. I read a Buddha saying just today that said: “Do not dwell in the past. Do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.”
  2. Spend time with your family and friends. For me this means scheduling activities so that I can maintain healthy relationships. My husband and I have just started scheduling fortnightly date nights. We are literally passing ships and needed to do something to bring the relationship back into balance. We could probably upgrade it to weekly. Fortnightly is a start. I schedule to catch up with my friends regularly, sometimes it is to go for a coffee, other times it’s a swim or a walk or a family BBQ. Consider other areas of your life that you may want to commit some time to. For example, spiritual growth, personal growth, career development and plan them into your weekly schedule.
  3. Increase the amount of fruit and vegetables in your diet and eat healthy foods. I know this sounds ridiculously simple but it’s also ridiculously easy to eat bad foods. They just seem so convenient. You will function better if you eliminate highly processed foods and refined sugars out of your diet. Foods have an amazing ability to support digestion, heal the gut, strengthen immunity, fight infection, reduce inflammation, enhance mood, boost IQ, build muscle and much more. There are a gazillion resources on eating well. Don’t get too overwhelmed with it all. Keep it simple: Increase fresh foods and drink more water to crowd out the junk.
  4. Hire a health or life coach for additional support or find a friend to be your accountability partner. Discuss your goals, your dreams, the vision you have for your future. Let the coach help you to break it down into achievable and doable chunks.
  5. Take breaks. Take short breaks, long breaks, weekend breaks. You must take time to renew and rejuvenate. Today I felt like I was getting nowhere, I was so frustrated with myself. I work mostly from home so I took 5 minutes to go outside feed the chickens and have a jump on the trampoline. The short break allowed me to refocus and start again. When I worked at the hospital, instead of having breaks in the lunch room I would take a stroll outside or sit and have lunch outside in the fresh air.
  6. Breathe frequently. Dr Andrew Weil has a great breathing exercise he calls the 4-7-8 breath. You can do anywhere anytime. Learn how to do it here. Dr Weil recommends practicing twice a day. It’s a tool you will have in your back pocket so to speak. Use it to help you fall asleep, overcome food cravings or whenever you are aware of tension building. I was attending one of Dr Weil’s lectures and he stopped right in the middle of class and taught us this.  At first I thought it was so weird but now I love this technique and use it daily.
  7. Move your body. Exercise energises your body and clears your mind. If you’re not fit, start with a ten minute gentle walk and increase it by two minutes each day. Within twenty days you will be walking half an hour a day.
  8. Don’t compare yourself to others. Full stop.
  9. Spend time with supportive people.
  10. Keep a gratitude journal. Being thankful helps us to focus on what we have rather than what we don’t have. Every time you have a positive thought it literally changes your brain and the hormones that are released in your body. Dr Caroline Leaf is an expert on how thoughts affect our emotions and our bodies and teaches how to break the cycle of toxic thinking. As you think, your thoughts are activated, which in turn activates your attitude. Your attitude is all of your thoughts put together and reflects your state of mind. This attitude is reflected in the chemical secretions that are released. Positive thoughts and gratitude cause the secretion of the correct amounts of chemicals and negative attitudes distort the chemical secretions. This distortion of chemicals, over time, can result in ill health. Gratitude and thankfulness lay the foundation for health and peace. Start by writing down just one thing a day that you are thankful for and each day add to your list. Also start to pay attention to where your mind goes most of the time. Each time your mind strays toward a negative thought replace it with a positive thought. When you practice gratitude your world begins to look brighter.

Visit Rachel Stokes Nutrition and Wellness for more inspiration for balanced living and make sure you check out her delicious recipes!

Which of these tips will you try this week? Which one interests you the most? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.