Author: Priscilla Gilbert, LMHC
Don’t Ignore Your Own Health
As moms we are so intentionally focused in providing the best care to our infants in order to nurture them to their fullest potential. Common practice is for moms to ignore and forsake themselves until the very last moment when all other needs have been met; yet we really need to find ways to balance care for our families while also caring for ourselves. Creating that balance in self-care and other-care is the best way to care for our babies.
You can do yourself and your family a favor by at least caring for your basic needs of sleep, diet, hydration, exercise, and hygiene. Neglecting your basic needs can lead to an increase in symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, burn-out, and grief. For example, we don’t realize that how much sleep enhances our cognitive abilities, problem solving skills, mood, and immunity; or that drinking enough water leads to mental clarity and reduces fatigue; or how the foods we eat impact our gut health which impacts your brain, emotions, and behaviors. Set small and reasonable goals of how you can do the basics of self-care during this time.
Find ways that you are comfortable recruiting help. As a general rule, we are not good at knowing what we need, asking for our needs to be met, and accepting help from other people. We all love to be the reliable, giving, and sacrificial person who helps other people in need; we want to be the giver and not the receiver. Consider asking for or hiring help for cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, child care, animal care, or car maintenance. Know that every transition, good and bad, requires additional energy from us in order to process and adapt to the changes. Find ways to simplify your life by recruiting help, cutting out extra commitments and activities, and limiting how many tasks you need to achieve in a day.
Professional help from your doctor or a counselor can also provide relief and tools to combat any symptoms of distress, including depression, anxiety, intrusive and scary thoughts, obsessions and compulsions, grief, and burnout. Using your support network and resources does not say anything bad about you as a mom; they are all tools to help you do your role better.
Kids Learn By Example
Know that your children will be healthier if they can see that mom is healthy. Children learn more by what they see than what they hear. So model health in caring for your body, practicing self-care, knowing personal limits, engaging in healthy relationships and friendships, practicing assertive and respectful communication, having self-awareness and identity, and valuing seeking professional care when needed.
The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.