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Self Care has become somewhat of a ‘buzz-word’ recently and everyone has their own perception of what it is or what it means to them. Self care has always been around but hasn’t generally been spoken about in the context of Motherhood. It also hasn’t been deemed important enough to address. As a therapist and a mother, I consider my Mental Health a high priority. I know from both personal and professional experience that I cannot pour from an empty cup. It is simply not sustainable.
There is a misconception amongst society that a Mother’s only role is to raise her children. She should do so to the best of her ability and at all costs, otherwise “she’s a bad Mum”. My problem with this is that far too many mothers do just this at the detriment of their own health. Think of yourself like a car; you need an MOT, you need a service and you need fuel to function. A car doesn’t get very far without fuel! When you go about your life without practicing Self Care, you are running your engine dry and will ultimately break down if you don’t fill up. Not to mention the plethora of other problems that would arise as a result.
In times of uncertainty, it is even more imperative to look after ourselves. Our emotional health has a direct impact on our physical health. When one is compromised, the other suffers. When we are not giving ourselves care, how can we expect to give care to others? As parents, we have a responsibility to look after our children. This is why Mothers and carers are in such a predicament. We need more Self Care than those that don’t have dependents. Yet it is harder for us to spend time alone or consider our health a priority over our children. Some might say it’s a ‘catch 22’.
When beginning to write this, I realised it might be more straightforward to tell you what is NOT Self Care. By eliminating those sorts of things, you have the best chance to remain well. It is also useful here to note that perception and reality are key. What I mean by that is one person may have the perception that they don’t need Self Care because they are already well, or they can’t because they don’t have time. We all have excuses. There is always time if you make time. What we need to do here is shift our perception or priority so that our day to day reality includes Self Care.
We have all fallen prey to ‘Mum Guilt’ at some stage and often that is the culprit for not doing enough for ourselves. Many of us feel bad when we don’t put our children first. We feel bad when we spend time away from our children and this has to change. Prevention is always better than cure. Why wait until we need help when we can implement small changes that will benefit us and our families.
You get the idea. By knowing what self care is not, we can begin to avoid unhelpful thinking patterns and habits. We can’t change overnight, but being aware of these things and being mindful of them is a huge step in the right direction. I would like to leave you with one final thought…
Self Care is not a selfish act! As a Mother, a Carer, a Parent, Self Care is essential for your health and growth, your relationships and your children’s wellbeing too. If we lead by example, our children will grow up more resilient and able to cope with the curveballs of life.
Sara has also written a very honest and brave 7PM article about her experience of Post Natal Depression which you can read here.
To contact Sara or hear about her upcoming Retreat for Mums & Mums to be, please head over to my Facebook community