Wellness for Mothers: Part 5

smile

Joshua smiling: Photo by David Horne / CC BY 2.0

Emotional Wellness

Emotional wellness is how a mother handles stress and is in touch with her emotions. Motherhood is full of ups and downs including happiness, sadness, anger, frustration and fear. All of these emotions are normal. However, it is important to be aware of various emotions and stressors to be able to channel them in a productive manner.

Take anger for example. If someone is very reactive with anger it can be a destructive emotion. If it is acknowledged and dealt with properly, it can be constructive.

The following are ways for a mother to work on emotional wellness:

  1. Name feelings. Think or say to yourself “I feel sad right now” or “I feel frustrated right now”. As simple as it sounds, acknowledging the exact feeling you are having can prevent build up and strong reaction over time.

 

  1. Use progressive muscle relaxation with strong emotions. This involves tensing up muscles intentionally, then letting the tension go. You can start with your feet and work up to your head.

 

  1. Use deep breathing for taking a moment. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, then out through your mouth. Focusing on breathing physiologically slows your mind and body down.

 

  1. Embrace positive emotions! As a mother, when I feel happy, I often find myself thinking “This won’t last, what is going to happen next?” and it can ruin the great feeling. Knowing that of course, you will not be happy forever, and embracing the times you are can make a big difference. It is those moments that will bring you through the difficult times.

 

  1. Talk about feelings with your kids and name their feelings so they can own them. There is a great show on PBS called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that often has lessons about feelings. The more you talk to your kids about their feelings, you can become aware of your own.

 

  1. Take time to do what you love. It could be hiking, art, movies, exercise, window shopping or more. Whatever you love to do, do it! These activities will help positive emotions.

 

Wellness for Mothers Series

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Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Wellness for Mothers: Part 4

mom friend

Friends Photo by yorkd / CC BY 2.0

Social Wellness

Motherhood can be isolating. At the beginning, it is a cycle of feeding, changing and sleeping and there is barely time to shower, let alone be social. However, as I mentioned in a previous post, Mom Friends, this is a time in life to be very intentional about seeking social support from others. It is important to stay connected to the outside world as a mom.

Here are some tips to stay connected:

  1. Find a mom and baby group. There are often groups through local churches or hospitals where you can meet up with moms and bring the kids along.

 

  1. Call or text that friend you have been meaning to connect with. Texting is an easy way to feel connected during a busy phases of life.

 

  1. Meet up with your friend for a girl’s night out. Have your partner or a family member help with the kids or hire a baby sitter to get out of the house for an hour. Dress up too!

 

  1. Connect with your mother if you can. Motherhood is a great connection for mothers and daughters because she has been there too. New mothers may have found a new sense of appreciation for their moms. Tell her that.

 

  1. Use social media to reach out to old friends who are now mothers. Ask them for some words of wisdom. More likely than not, they will be happy to offer.

 

  1. When you are ready, plan to leave the house for an outing with your kids a couple times per week. Simply going to the park or beach can help you still feel connected.

 

Wellness for Mothers Series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Wellness for Mothers: Part 3

fruit

Avacados with other fruits and vegetables: Photo by US Department of Agriculture /  CC BY 2.0

 

Physical wellness

Physical wellness is about taking care of your body. This dimension includes sleep, physical activity and nutrition. Many mothers I know struggle in this dimension. Mothers (especially new moms) lack sleep, can hardly find time to eat and physical activity may be the last thing on her mind. The following are ways a busy mother can improve her physical wellness.

  1. Make healthy snacking easy. Place healthy snacks, such as nut mixes, near places where you breastfeed or sit frequently. Easy access can help a busy mother stay nourished.

 

  1. Cut up fruit and veggies once per week while your partner or a family member is around so you have easy accessible snacks to grab. Or if you can afford it, buy them already cut for you!

 

  1. Put your stroller to good use. Pack your kids up in the stroller and take a walk outside. Walking is the simplest form of activity for most. This will help two fold, by engaging in physical activity and fresh air.

 

  1. Make moving a family affair. If you have a baby, check out this link for a mom and baby routine. With older kids, go to a park and play with them instead of being on the sidelines. Here is another link for ideas with older children. Remember to check with your doctor before engaging in a physical activity routine.

 

  1. Sleep is a tough one for moms. Many moms do not sleep enough due to children’s needs. However, if you struggle with falling asleep, even when you have the chance, try a guided meditation to help induce sleep.

 

  1. Another method for falling asleep is breath counting. An easy way to try this technique is to count your inhales up to 5, then start over. Continue this cycle. Focusing on breathing automatically relaxes the body.

 

Remember drastic changes are not necessarily the way to go while improving wellness. You can begin with one simple change and continue to add small changes as they become habit.

Wellness for Mothers Series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Wellness for Mothers: Part 2

read

Sophie Reading: Photo by Brad Greenlee / CC BY 2.0

Intellectual Wellness

One of the biggest struggles in self-care a mother faces is a sheer lack of time to focus on her wellness. Caring for others is time consuming. The goal for reviewing each of the 6 wellness dimensions individually is to provide simple, time effective ways to impact wellness.

Intellectual wellness is about keeping one’s brain sharp and engaged. It is about thinking outside of your current paradigm and increasing creativity. The following are ways a mother can incorporate intellectual wellness into her day.

  1. Take time, whether it is 5 minutes or an hour, in your day to read something. It could be a few pages in a book, a blog, an article or a newspaper. Reading helps keep your brain sharp.

 

  1. Complete a crossword puzzle or Sudoku. If you are new to puzzles, buy an easy book from the dollar store to begin. You will find yourself becoming more efficient at the puzzles over time. This is your brain making connections.

 

  1. Sit down with your kids to do an art project and complete one of your own! You could multitask by working on your family scrapbook or baby book you have been meaning to get to.

 

  1. Bring your kids to a children’s museum or an aquarium. Read the postings out loud to your kids and you may learn something too.

 

  1. Have a friendly debate with your partner or a family member. To make it interesting, you could argue from the opposite viewpoint of what you actually believe.

 

  1. Talk to your baby or kids about science, art, history or another subject of interest. This can help you learn new information. Additionally, babies and toddlers benefit from live language, which is you talking to them, during development.

 

Keep your brain in shape during motherhood through some of these easy to incorporate intellectual wellness techniques. What is your favorite way to keep your brain sharp?

Wellness for Mothers Series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Wellness for Mothers: Part 1

An Introduction: The Dimensions of Wellness

The word wellness has been used frequently in the past few years. It is used in business names and product lines. What does this word really mean? Why is it so important for mothers?

One frequent definition is wellness is health beyond the absence of sickness. When you have a sickness, you are treated for it. When the sickness is gone, you have achieved the absence of sickness. To achieve wellness, you move further towards health and wellbeing by finding balance in the six dimensions of wellness.

The six dimensions of wellness are:

Intellectual – This dimension is focused on expanding a person’s mind

Physical – This dimension includes all physical aspects including sleep, nutrition and exercise

Emotional – This dimension consists of one’s ability to cope with stress and emotions

Occupational – This dimension relates to a person’s purpose in life

Spiritual – This dimension encompasses the idea of embracing existence and higher powers

Social – This dimension emphasizes the importance of meaningful relationships

This handout created by the National Wellness Institute gives a further explanation of these dimensions.

On the journey to wellness, balance in all areas is equally important. For example, if your goal is to “get back in shape” and you focus solely on the physical dimension of exercise and nutrition, you may find your motivation level lacking over time. However, if you create a balanced wellness plan, your motivation may remain much higher.

In the following mini-series about wellness, I will discuss each dimension separately, then put them back together again at the end.

Wellness for Mothers Series

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Time for a break (Before you do)

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Relax: Photo by Juliana Dacoregio / CC BY 2.0

If you saw yesterday’s post, you saw the video about the #worldstoughestjob. Motherhood. You are on the clock 24/7 – 365. Whether you are a working mom or stay at home mom, there is little time for rest. This is a time in your life when you need to become very intentional about taking breaks. Sometimes it is easier not to. You keep going until you pass out on your pillow at night, then do it all over again. Trust me, you need to make an effort to take a break. Here are some ideas for you:

  • Take a shower! People who are not mothers may look at me funny for saying this; however, new mothers have been known to struggle with this basic self care routine. Being clean feels good and you get a few moments to yourself. Do it while your partner is home to help or while baby is asleep. Make it a priority.
  • Take at least an hour, if possible, to go somewhere by yourself during the week. This is especially important for stay-at-home moms. Have your partner or family member watch the little ones while you head to the coffee shop.
  • Attend counseling. Anyone can benefit from counseling. Mothers can take the time to process through major life changes with an objective viewpoint.
  • Splurge on yourself (again if possible). Book a massage, pedicure or other enjoyable treatment.
  • Spend time with a mom friend. It is relieving to be around other moms who are going through the same stages as you.

Each individual has her own way of taking a break. Just be sure to make the conscious effort to do so, even if it is a couple minutes.

 

Bad day? Turn it around!

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Sleep…: Photo by Kirill Kondratyev / BY CC 2.0

Sometimes a mother’s day to day life is draining. Someone will give you unwanted advice. Everything seems like it is going wrong. You scroll through your social media and everyone seems happier than you.

You are tired, overworked and want to crawl back in bed. Below are some techniques that can help you take back the power and brighten up your day.

  1. Focus on someone else: Try to brighten someone else’s day. Give a genuine compliment or a simple smile. You may notice your own mood lifting.
  2. Gratitude list: Write down five positive things. Even if it seems cheesy and doesn’t work right away, you can begin tricking your brain to move toward positive.
  3. Let go of comparison: Behind those smiling faces on social media is a whole story, which includes individual trials. Things are not always as they appear. Give yourself a break!
  4. Take some time for yourself to take care of your body/mind/spirit: Prayer, exercise, a healthy meal, nature, hobbies, etc are all ways to engage in self care.
  5. Think back: Reminisce about a favorite happy memory.

 

If you like to read and want more ideas to brighten your day, check out this article:

The Happiness Factor

 

Motivation Monday: SMART goals

We all know Mondays can be tough. Maybe you had fun in the sun with your family all weekend and now it is back to “reality”. Even though Monday typically has a bad reputation, it can be a new beginning to a goal you would like to accomplish.

SMART goals stand for: SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC and TIMED. It is important when you make a goal it is all of these things. Here is an example:

Your goal: I will read more.

This goal is vague. How will you know when you achieved your goal? Make it SMART:

I will read 20 minutes per day at least 3 times this week of July 11-17.

SPECIFIC and MEASURABLE: You will know if you reached your goal on July 17th by reviewing if you have 3, 20 minute sessions of reading in.

ATTAINABLE and REALISTIC: If you went from no reading at all to trying to read 3 hours per day everyday during the week, that might not be attainable due to time restrictions. It would not be realistic to expect to go from no reading to 3 hours per day. The goal of 20 minutes, 3 days during the week is realistic and attainable.

TIMED: It is important to time your goals. If you say you will achieve this goal for the rest of your life it may become overwhelming. Make your goals for the week, month or year, depending if it is a short or long term goal. Start small and work your way up.

Tips for goals:

  • Make sure you plan for “life” getting in the way. Avoid setting up for failure by being too ambitious right away. For example, going from no exercise to exercise every single day of the week. Start with 2 or 3 days and build from there.
  •   If you are not successful the first time, do not give it all up. Adjust your goal and move forward.
  • Seek help. Tell a partner or family member about your goal and have them ask you about it occasionally.

    Happy

    Happy: Photo by Carmela Nava / CC BY 2.0

 

Mom Guilt

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Sad: Photo by Joe Penna / CC BY 2.0

If you are a mother you know what “mom guilt” is. It is that feeling that you are never doing enough. For example, if you are a working mom, you may feel guilty about missing out on time with your kids. On the other hand, if you are a stay-at-home mom, you may feel behind in the career world. It seems as if mom guilt is a continuum and there is no safe spot to rest.

There is nothing that can be said or done to permanently relieve you of this feeling. However, know this:

You are enough. As is. Even if your to-do list is left undone. Even if you work too much outside the home or never work another day outside the home in your life. You are enough.

Check out these to fantastic photo ops from the CTWorkingMoms blog.

Hugs Not Judgment

End the Mommy Wars