Laura (*fictionalized client) is a 35 year old mom with 2 young children. Since she is a stay at home mom who feels like she is busy from morning until night and rarely gets a break. She told her husband recently she feels exhausted all the time. She was losing her temper more easily with her children and was upset about this.
What Is Self-Care?
Laura knew she needed to make some changes so she had more energy and could be a more patient parent. She realized making time for herself would help her achieve these goals. Another word for this is “self-care.” This is anything that helps you to feel like you “recharged your batteries.” Another way I like to think about it is any activity that is “restorative” for you.
It took some time for Laura to think about what would truly be “restorative” for her, as opposed to doing an activity where she is simply “zoning out.” This is a way of describing what typically happens when we watch TV. She also realized she would need to schedule some time every week for a babysitter so she could get a break.
Often we tend to think of something we would like to do that is “self-care” and we figure we will do it when we have “free time.” But the problem with that is there is always something else that needs to be done, like a household chore, and so self-care time never happens.
Obstacles That Can Be Overcome To Implement Self Care
Sometimes, women want to take time for themselves, but feel guilty because they think they should be doing things for other people all the time. If this is a problem for you check out our blog post on: The Busy Woman’s Guide to Saying No (Without Feeling Guilty).
The other thing that women tend not to think about is self-care time can be taken in small increments. You don’t need an entire weekend to yourself to recharge your batteries. Think of longer activities (going on a long hike, for example) and shorter activities (doing a 5 minute relaxation exercise) that you can use.
So How Do You Find Time For Yourself?
–Do a time study. For one week keep track of all the activities that you do that take up time: commuting, eating, sleeping, doing chores, working, caring for others, etc. See where there are gaps in your schedule that could be filled with self-care activities. Even a short 10 minute window is long enough to do some deep breathing and have some quiet time with a cup of tea or coffee.
–Plan for it. For example, Laura, knew she needed a babysitter or her husband to watch the kids to make sure she got enough self-care time. If this is the case for you, make those arrangements, and put it in your schedule or else it might never happen.
–Remind yourself how important it is for you to take care of yourself. Think about how you will be a better mom, wife, caretaker, etc. if you take care of yourself first. Create a mantra to repeat to yourself like “It’s important that I take this time for myself” or “I will be a better mom if I get a break every week.”
Do you struggle with finding time for yourself? Have you found anything that helps?
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.