I really dislike the concept of self care in some respects because as women, we have to care for everyone else, our partners, our babies, other members of the family. We are expected to nurture everyone and then we are asked to do the same for ourselves. I used to feel like that wasn't a really fair deal. However, I have come to recognise that it is vital that we embrace the simple things we can do to take care of ourselves and have learnt the hard way that we cannot pour from an empty cup!
The topic I want to most uncover here is REST.
I dont believe we value it enough and I don't think modern western women get this concept!
There are a couple of aspects we can look at. There is sleep and a deep state of rest, body, mind, emotions. Then there is doing restful things to nurture our wellbeing.
That state of deep rest is highly beneficial for recuperation postnatally, and indeed in the ensuing fun times of parenting at all stages. Sleep is the time our bodies regenerate and heal on a cellular level and we process things. Sleep is healing. Sleep is crucial for a baby's development and so my golden rule has always been, that whenever possible, sleep when baby is sleeping.
Some ways to ensure you get maximum benefit from this deep state of rest (and I unpack these individually a lot deeper in my blog) are:
• Prepare a routine before you sleep, a calming, familiar ritual before bed.
• Drink a herbal tea such as chamomile or lavender, or a warm milk and honey
• Use an app to play white noise, or waves crashing, or rain pattering on the roof, both as a soothing sleep sound, and as a way to cut out other noise that may distract you.
• Set an alarm half an hour before bed to ensure you are reminded to come off screens, this is when you can brush teeth, prepare bed and maybe read or do some yoga like stretches before you get into bed. I dim the lights, and put my oil on diffuser and then we have a last little chat before lights out and we drift off.
The second important aspect is really making mindful living, and restful living a part of who you are, and how you live. A restful lifestyle. This doesn't mean we don't have busy patches, nor can we avoid all stressors, but if we have made rest a priority, its far easier to deal with said stressors.
Some of the things you can do to contribute to this, are:
• Outsourcing some of your work, whether at home or if you run a business, you can get people to do your canva, or your social media management so you can bond with kids and do housework etc OR get a cleaner for a couple hours a week or fortnight to whip through whole house so its clean, neat and fresh and you can do other important things you value.
I could wax lyrical about this, but I won't here! I can't stress enough the benefits of outsourcing certain things, freeing up time for what you do/love best.
• Drink water (set an alarm) so your body has all it needs to function. We really do need to drink more water! In a nutshell, It flushes toxins out and helps gives us energy!
• Read a book or a fave magazine, try a gardening, home décor or wellbeing one over a trashy gossipy one, then you may learn something or be inspired to do something creative
• Speaking of creative, do a project or learn a hobby, It can be cathartic and deeply restful to paint, garden, knit, make something.....
• Have a bath, with essential oils and epsom salts; not only is this detoxing, its also relaxing to smell the fragrant oils and to soak your troubles or aches away. Some herbs can help heal you post birth too.
• Pamper yourself – a hair mask, face mask or nails done once a week goes a long way to making you feel “normal” not just a crazy hot mess mum endlessly changing nappies!
• Go for a walk but not on phone, just looking around and enjoying nature while bub is on you in a sling or in the pram.
We think these things are not restful, but they are actually so good for us. As long as we are present, focusing on what we have, and what we are capable of doing within own limitations, we can make self care a huge part of our every day life and be so much happier and healthier for it.
Maybe, looking at the above points, write a list and choose 1-2 things you could change in your life to make it more restful and nurturing of yourself.