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

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Time for a break (Before you do)

relax

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

sad

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

 

Go Play Outside

Do you remember when your mother would tell you to “go outside and play”? That is my recommendation for you on this sunny day.

The weather is nice and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, these days are cherished. Making a point to “go outside and play” each day is great for your total wellness. Sun and nature often have a way of helping people melt away stress.

Ideas for family fun outside:

  • Go to the park with your kids
  • Simple family walk
  • Hike in the woods
  • Find a new beach to enjoy
  • Sit and read on the deck

If you are looking for something to do with your kids during the summer months, check out Playtime in the Park sponsored by the Keweenaw Family Resource Center and BHK:

Playtime in the Park 

What is your favorite summer outdoor activity?

Caring for Mother’s Spirit

When it comes to a mother’s wellness, calming and slowing down are challenging. Meditation is a way to help calm your mind/body/spirit after a stressful day. It can take just a couple minutes for a busy mother to take this break. You may have heard of meditation before and have an image in your mind about what meditation is.

Meditation can take on many forms. If you are interested in trying to calm your mind or renew your spirit, it can help. If you are new to meditation, try it when you are ready for sleep, then put o,n a guided meditation.  You may make it through the whole thing or fall asleep. Either way it is okay!  Mothers battling insomnia may find this especially helpful.

A great website to try out some guided meditations is:

http://www.meditationoasis.com/

Click on podcasts, they are free!  The website is full of wonderful information.

Mom Friends

Motherhood is often a shock to the system. Suddenly there is a small helpless being you are caring for and it is hard to describe to someone who has not “been there”. Whether you are a working mom or stay at home mom it can be difficult to find balance. The days often blend together and you may feel isolated from others.

It is important during this time to connect with other moms. Some do this very easily and often. Others, it takes a bit more effort. Ladies, I am talking to you! This is a time in your life where it is helpful to be very intentional about seeking and connecting with other moms who are in the trenches with you.

Ways to connect

Groups

There are many groups available to participate in all over. Just start looking. Here locally in Houghton and Keweenaw counties here are some examples of ways to begin connecting in a group setting:

The Keweenaw Family Resource Center and the Treehouse

This resource is great because no one will be turned away. Those who can afford it pay a fee and those who cannot are welcome too. In addition, they have free events for everyone, including free days at the treehouse and playtime in the park during the summer.

There is a local Christian Affiliated group called MOPS (Mothers of Preshoolers) that meets 2 times per month during the school year for Mommy time. Childcare is included.

Online groups such as Copper Country Moms and Dads can keep you in the loop about what is going on in the area for families and possibly connect you to a new mom friend.

If you are not in the local area, look for support groups in your own area.

Individual

Bring your baby/kids to a local park. It is a great place to strike up a conversation with other parents doing the same.

Reach out to someone you know is a parent that you maybe have not connected with in a while. This can be done by facebook, phone, text, email or in person. You will often find how supportive most other parents are willing to be.

You can look at this as “phase 2” of dating. You meet moms, get phone numbers and set up playdates!

Start by doing one thing. Get yourself up out of the house one time and put yourself out there. It will get easier. Once it does, you can add this important mom interaction in your daily/weekly or monthly routine.