Updated: Jan 6
By Meghan Higle
Here’s the thing about self care- we honestly kind of don’t want to do it. Seriously. When you’re exhausted from taking care of tiny humans and just feeling overall bummed out, who wants to go for a walk, make a cup of tea, or meditate? I just want to lay in bed and stare at the wall and feel my feelings. It’s actually WORK to take care of yourself. The hardest part of self care is actually doing it. Forcing yourself to get up, get over it, and practice self care is the first step, and it’s really hard.
Here’s the good part though, once you start working on yourself, and building up these daily habits of taking care of yourself, it gets easier, and your mental health will thank you! I do want you to lay in bed and stare at the wall. I want you to get mad. I want you to cry. I want you to yell and punch your pillow. I want you to tell your partner or your Mom or your kids that you’re annoyed or sad or that you need a hug or that you need alone time. This is the first step. Feel your feelings, accept your anger, accept your heartache, and know that you are going to keep having these feelings but you can live with them. Know that you’re not alone. People all over the world feel this way! We can live with our sadness and anger. We just have to be able to find happiness and love and wonder and power along with it.
Step two. Breathe. Yes it’s cliche, yes it feels weird, but just do it. Put your hand on your chest or your belly. Smell the flowers and then blow out the candles (a preschool tactic). Inhale the good, exhale the bad. Take a minute to just sit with your thoughts, be with yourself, and keep breathing.
Step three. Find your thing or find a bunch of things. The things that make you happy, that make you smile, that give you butterflies in your tummy. Your kids or your job might do this, sure, but you need your very own thing that will calm you down and give you peace, something that takes care of YOU. Two of my favorite things are coffee and hot showers. When I was a new mom I would pack my baby up every morning to go buy a giant, hot cup of espresso and I didn't even care, because at that moment, that’s what I needed. Now, I take long, hot showers; the kind that leaves your skin red at the end because it was way too hot. I have at least 6 books and a few notebooks and journals stacked up on my desk/night stand. I have podcasts and audiobooks. I have a skin care routine. My favorite self care is taking care of my body and my brain. I love to listen and learn. It helps me feel like I did a workout for my brain that day.
Here’s another secret, sometimes, something that you don’t think is your thing, could totally be your thing. Have you tried a walk lately? It’s hard when we live in the arctic tundra of Montana, but maybe you just need to bundle up and tough it out. Walking feels so good on your body and the fresh air goes straight to your brain. It honestly never sounds fun, but I always feel better when I do it.
Favorite foods or drinks
Hobbies-puzzles, books, painting, knitting, working out, crafting
Essential oils (my hobby, craft, and calm in a bottle)
Playdates with friends
Mom dates with friends
Make lists, set daily goals, check off what you’ve done so far (DO NOT be hard on yourself for what you didn’t get done) Buy yourself a pretty new planner with fancy pens if that helps you.
Journal. Write down all your thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, etc.
Cuddles, with partners, pets, or even your babies.
Go to the store. Walking through the store alone can feel therapeutic!
Go on an adventure.
Call a relative or a friend.
Clean the house (this feels great for me when I have time
Bubble bath, candles, wine
Look to your spirituality or religion
Take a shower, fix your hair, do your makeup, whatever. Even if you’re just going to sit on the couch looking all glam, sometimes it feels good.
Step four. Ask for help! Tell someone how you’re feeling, ask them to come visit you, reach out to friends and family, or even your doctor.
Step five. Do you know who needs to learn about self care and feelings even more than you do? Your babies, your teenagers, or the children that you care for. Teach them! Show them. Tell them that you are overwhelmed and need five minutes to breathe. The next time your child/kids in your care are feeling overwhelmed they just might think, “hey, maybe I should take some deep breaths just like my mommy or teacher does.” Teach your children that emotions are good and normal, then teach them how they can deal with big feelings by showing them how you do it. You might have a cozy corner or an alone center with lots of fun materials and items to soothe your kids. Why not do this for yourself?
Step six. Figure out what works for you and keep it up. The more time you have to take care of yourself, the better you will feel, I promise! But, you have to continually work on all the steps.
Some other resources I liked:
Meghan is a born and raised Montanan, mama to a rambunctious toddler and a bonus mom to two amazing preteens. She recently earned a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. In addition to her position as an Early Childhood Specialist at the University of Montana, Meghan enjoys a variety of an odd mix of jobs; nannying, creating and selling travel play dough kits, making essential oil blends for kids, providing families with child guidance on Facebook and Instagram, and now providing ideas and tips to child care providers in partnership with Raise Montana! Meghan is also a content contributor for 406 Families, a site dedicated to connecting families to local events and resources.