It’s all too easy, especially when you are a working mum to put yourself last. Instead of spending some time relaxing, you catch up on ironing or quickly wash up. We take a day off work to clean the house, then feel guilty when we spend half of it binge-watching shows on Netflix (why feel guilty?!). All these household jobs need to be done I know, but when we put ourselves last and become a martyr we harm the mental health of our families as well as our own.
Eeeek! We harm our families mental health??? Ok, that sounds drastic I know. However, when we become stressed, we become anxious or angry, right? Then we take it out on those around us and usually, on the people we most care about. Perhaps we even miscommunicate because we are stressed. Sometimes we may lose our temper when our child just wants a hug. Or forget things because there are a million and one things going on in our heads. See a pattern emerging? Stress is devastating and has a devastating effect on everyone around us. Before you fly off into a guilt spiral (as easy as it is for us to do that), read on!
Self-care is the very least you can do for yourselves. Some of these very basic self-care acts that we can sometimes forget are right at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow, a humanist psychologist theorised that these needs had to be met in order for a person to self-actualise and in fact when parts of their needs (shown below) are missing from their life they become disconnected and depressed. So why oh why do so many of us fail to give ourselves even the basic of self-care? Probably because we think that putting our family first every time makes us better parents. It doesn’t. When you are on a plane and the air steward does the safety announcement, who do they tell you to put the oxygen mask on first when you have a child with you? You! Why? Because if you aren’t fit then you just can’t take care of anyone else.
So what are the basics? Food, breathing, sleep etc… How often do we stay up an hour later to do something for our kids or to clean because we are working the next day and won’t have time? How often do we skip meals because we are so busy we forget to eat? STOP IT AND EAT!!! Eat, sleep and be merry. Next in the hierarchy of needs is health (you can help this by eating properly and sleeping enough). Then there’s the social aspect. We need friends and family, a support system. Don’t isolate yourself from people because you are feeling down, this will not make you feel better. You need a support system. We evolved because we were part of a tribe, this is how we survive and will continue to survive. With human interaction, care and love.
So next time you feel a bit down, a bit stressed, a bit burnt out, consider whether you are putting enough into your self-care.
Do you need to say ‘no’ to people more often?
Do you need more sleep?
Are you eating enough?
Do you need to get more exercise?
Do you need to spend some time doing things you enjoy?
Do you need to start meditation or mindfulness?
Do you need to join a yoga class or an art class?
Do you need to make some new friends or reconnect with old ones?
All these things need to be considered when you feel like life is relentless before you think there is no hope. There is always hope. It starts on the inside and it starts with you. The moment you take responsibility for your self-care you become empowered and are able to head towards self-actualisation.
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