The following is a guest post from Angelica at Modern Familia:
I know plenty of women who sleep somewhere between 4 and 5 hours a night. They say they just don’t have the time to sleep any more than that. And I know many more women who skip meals, especially breakfast, because they are too hurried in the morning. Exercise? Forget about it. That’s considered a luxury.
When we do too much, the time we spend on self-care is one of the first areas that suffers. From a logical point of view, this makes absolutely no sense. If self-care energizes and invigorates us, why do we sacrifice our source of energy? It’s no different than driving a car with an empty tank of gas. At some point, the car will stop just stop driving.
And so will we.
Consequences of Poor Self-Care and Maintenance
I’m sure you know what happens when you don’t sleep enough, don’t move your body enough, and don’t eat well. You end up depleted. And when you don’t take the time to reconnect with your self and your friends — or, as I call it: fill up your soul tank — you face the risk of:
- Fatigue and chronic exhaustion
- Irritability, sadness, melancholy or depression
- Feelings of emptiness
- Lower back aches and/or joint pain, headaches
- Decreased libido and/or marital conflict
- Poor decision-making and poor judgment
- Difficulties concentrating or focusing
Carving the time to take care of yourself through regular maintenance, personal tune ups and filling up with invigorating life activities will make you a better mother, wife, friend and career person. Incorporating healthy and energizing practices into your daily routine is key.
Here are “7 agreements” to live life with a full tank of energy:
1. Agree to Wake Up 15 Minutes Earlier
Regardless of how early or late you you already wake up these days, creating the new habit of waking up just 15 minutes earlier to purposefully invigorate yourself is a bold statement to yourself on self-care. Take this time to acknowledge your body, mind and soul.
We often think of meditation as focusing mostly on the breath — I find that for busy moms, it is equally important to focus on how our body feels that morning right after awakening. Sitting in a comfortable position, on the floor or chair:
- Ask yourself: Where do I feel the stress in my body?
- Move your shoulders, your waist, and your knees
- Wiggle your fingers, your toes, and extremities
- Move your facial muscles and sense any tension there
2. Take 5 Minutes to Review Your To-Do List
Go over your list of things to be done today (I’m assuming you keep a to-do list) and, immediately and without over-thinking it, do the following:
- Choose 3 MIT’s (Most Important Items) you will focus on today
- Find 3 items you can delegate to someone else
- Scratch 3 items you do not really need to do at all (trust me, there are plenty of those)
Why only 5 minutes? Because the goal is to not waste time pondering on what to do. The goal is to go with your instinct on what you need to get done, and do so as efficiently as possible.
3. Agree to Sleep at Least 7 Hours.
The literature on sleep is replete with data showing that lack of sleep is associated with obesity, mood problems, and plenty of medical conditions. Sleep is our main source of rejuvenation and recovery. It is the most important source of energy for our mind, body, and soul. Sleeping at least 7 hours will guarantee better concentration, increased overall efficiency, improved mood, and beautiful skin (!).
4. Agree to Take Your Time in the Shower.
Don’t hurry your showers. Showers are not only very relaxing, but they can also be therapeutic for your body, your muscles, your joint and your mind. Ever wonder why you do your best creative thinking while in the shower? There is something magical about water — it’s refreshing, relaxing, soothing, and healing. So, do take your time — and don’t forget to sing.
5. Carve out 45 Minutes for ME Time Every Single Day.
This may sound like an impossible idea. But honestly speaking, it is easier than you think. You can carve out the time before your kids wake up in the morning, when they’re at school, or right after they go to sleep. Or you can have someone help at home for an hour so that you can either sit and read a book, talk to friend on the phone, get your nails done, or take a nice long shower. Better yet, do nothing. Doing nothing is doing something.
6. Move Your body. Start with 5 Jumping Jacks Daily
I’m trying not to use the E word here because I know many of us are sick and tired of people telling us how important E is. When we hear this E word, we often think about jogging for an hour in the park, doing weights at the gym, sweating at an aerobics class and taking precious hours out of our day.
But, the real truth is that exercise (okay, I said it) does not need to be a workout; it can simply be a walk around your neighborhood, 15 minutes of dancing to your favorite music at home or going to the gym for just 30 minutes.
Start with 5 jumping jacks. Go ahead, get up right now and do it. It takes about 30 seconds.
7. Agree to Fuel your Marriage
When we become so focused and consumed with parenting and work responsibilities, we might find ourselves disconnected from our partners, especially if time for fun and intimacy are compromised. We notice that our conversations might only focus on the kids, the new leak in the house, or the latest bill, and somehow, the couple that we once were gets lost in the day-to-day busyness of our lives. As you begin to take care of yourself, consider how you can also take care of your relationship with your spouse. Figure out ways to fill up your relationship tank with love, laughter and intimacy. A happy marriage makes the soul dance.
Do you make time for self-care every day? Which one of the above items will you do today?
Angelica Perez-Litwin is a practicing psychologist and mother of 4 children, ranging in ages from 1 to 16. She’s the founder and writer of Modern Familia, a progressive website on motherhood, parenting and families, for moms who want to live remarkable lives and raise remarkable children.