Mental Health and Wellness · Pregnancy and Motherhood

BEATING THE BURNOUT: SELF-CARE IDEAS FOR NEW MOMS

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This past week my daughter was in the middle of a developmental leap, characterized by mood swings, sleep disturbances and extreme mommy obsession. On the worst days, she breastfeeds constantly, and gets upset when I put her down for any stretch of time, she’s happy one minute, then she’s sad, it’s a total emotional roller coaster. It’s now the end of the week and I am beyond drained, both physically and mentally. So self-care has been at the forefront of my mind. I feel pretty burned out, and i’m not gonna lie, it shows. As moms, especially when you’re new to to it all, we sometimes have a hard time finding balance. Everything can get a little overwhelming, and most times, we just keep going. You can’t pour from an empty cup and if we want to continue to be the best caregivers to our children, we must first care for ourselves, so I created a list of things that I do to help me to regroup, relax and get myself back on track.

Get some sleep

I’ve been running on very little sleep daily, so much so that before motherhood, I would not have believed it was possible for a human to function this sleep deprived. While it is possible, your body really does need proper sleep to give it a chance to repair and rejuvenate. Ask for help, from your significant other, a friend, your mom, someone you trust basically. Have them sit with your kid or kids and get some sleep.

Do a simple at home facial

I love Korean sheet masks. They’re cheap, they’re moisturizing, cool and soothing. I buy a bunch and slap one on when my skin looks dull and in need of a quick pick me up. If you’re interested, these are the ones I use. Your face feels so nice afterwards and it only takes a few minutes.

Get some exercise 

Exercise is great because of the endorphins it releases. Structurally, endorphins are similar to morphine and act as natural painkillers. They bring about feelings of euphoria and general well-being. If you’re like me and you hate structured workouts because you’re really freakin’ tired and unmotivated, put on your favorite playlist and dance in the most carefree and uninhibited way for a few minutes, stretch, bend and just go crazy.

Spend a little time outdoors

Go for a walk. Spending time outdoors is all about the fresh air and change in scenery. It makes you happier, improves blood pressure, regulates your heart rate and helps to clear your mind a little. Even if you take your kids with you, it will do wonders for your mood.

Connect with friends

Connecting with friends doesn’t even have to mean that you go out. A nice chat on the phone helps. It’ll take your mind off of the stressful things for a little while. When I talk to my friends, I definitely like to steer the conversation away from things that are too heavy and focus on lighthearted humor because laughing makes me feel good. I mean who doesn’t like a good laugh?

Hydrate

Drink water! Hydration helps your body to perform at optimal levels. And we need to be healthy to take care of our kids. Water regulates body temperature, lubricates joints and helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy.

Eat a nourishing meal

I often see moms complaining about missed meals, but like a car, our brains need fuel to run efficiently. In the earliest days of motherhood, despite being a huge foodie, It would be hard to find the time to eat, and it definitely made me feel like crap which left me feeling super unfocused and hangry! So now I prioritize eating and I’m a much happier person for it.

Take some deep breaths

Close your eyes. Now, take a deep breath in, pause, and think about something that makes you happy, then, slowly breathe out. Feel any better? Breathing is a powerful stress reliever that’s supposed to help you feel less anxious. There’s tons of articles online about the benefits of breathing and different methods to make it more effective. It can be done anywhere, and doesn’t cost a dime. I recently received an Apple Watch as a gift and it makes me do breathing exercises several times a day. I gotta admit that at first I thought it was total nonsense but it does indeed help.

Take a hot shower or bubble bath

Even if you’re beyond overwhelmed, getting in the shower or the bath seems to wash the stress away, even if temporary. Hot water gets your blood moving and helps to loosen up tight muscles. If you really want to take your bath to the next level, there are these awesome bath-bombs that I use, they come in a variety of scents and the best part is, they make you feel super relaxed and they don’t stain your tub.

Give yourself a manicure or pedicure

This one actually takes some time, so I don’t get to do it as often as I like which is sad, because my hands and feet do look a little scary right now. When I do have the chance however, it really has a positive impact on my mood. You really don’t need to be a master nail painter or anything to give yourself a mani/pedi. Just wash your hands or feet, put on a nice moisturizing lotion and give them a little massage. Then file your nails, put on a clear coat of nail polish if you don’t have time to do color and voila! You’re done.

Diffuse essential oils

Essential oils are an all natural way to unwind and relieve stress. They’re the perfect pick me up after a stressful day and best of all, they work in your sleep. Put a few drops into a cool mist humidifier before bed and let them work their magic. The cool mist, helps to keep the air around you moist which has tons of benefits for your skin and hair. And adding oils just makes it even better. My personal favs are lavender and eucalyptus. Lavender not only smells divine, but it reduces stress, enhances mental concentration and calms feelings of anxiety. Eucalyptus has similar effects but also has the added benefit of fighting congestion and helping you to breathe better.

Find a creative outlet (if creativity is your thing)

For me, I write. Writing has really helped me over the last few months to overcome some of my anxiety and has given me an avenue to express myself. It’s freeing and really makes me feel like I’m doing something just for me. Putting the words in my head onto paper quite literally clears my mind and if creating is your thing, start working on something, anything. Your poetry, a painting, sew, knit, whatever you want to.

Express gratitude 

There have been many studies, including one from Harvard University that have found links between expressing gratitude and overall happiness. It can help you to have a more positive and hopeful mindset, improved relationships and even help you to get better sleep. Just grab a pen and paper and write a list of things you’re grateful for each day and actively practice saying thank you to the people in your life. It really puts things into perspective, makes you feel good and gives you a greater appreciation for the good things in your life.

What are some things you do to practice self-care? I’m always open to new ideas so definitely share your feedback and ideas with me.

xo

-Nic

 

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Pregnancy and Motherhood

10 Things I Wish I Could Tell My Pregnant Self After 5 Months of Motherhood

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My Happy Baby

Sometimes I sit and wish for a do-over. I don’t regret anything but I wish I could relive some moments from when my daughter was a newborn. I wish that I could approach new motherhood with the insight and knowledge that I have now! How perfect would that be? Unfortunately I can’t, but if it were somehow possible, here’s what I would tell myself.

You will not drop the baby on her head

As a new mom, you’re going to have some anxiety when it comes to caring for your baby. For some it’s a little and for others like me, there’s a lot. I worried about everything including the possibility of being a klutz and dropping my baby. I mean, I had no experience with kids whatsoever, so the thought of her somehow catapulting out of my arms seemed highly plausible, along with a ton of other irrational fears. You’re going to be fine, and so will your baby.

Accept help and feel guiltless about it

Another thing I worried endlessly about was that I would some how be less of a mom if I handed my baby off for a moment so that I could practice a little self care. I think sometimes as moms we get caught up in trying to do all the things and be essentially perfect. But your baby wouldn’t think any less of you if you took time for yourself, and you would actually be a better mom for it.

Your butt hole will explode and heal eventually (I promise)

So i’ll be straight with you, nobody warned me about the butt changes that occur during pregnancy AND childbirth. First of all, stool softeners and patience will be your best friend after labor. Imagine my shock when taking my first post-labor shower, to feel that my butthole was essentially turned inside out after pushing. To make matters worst, it was hard to go the bathroom for a while after the fact because of the epidural medication. It was literal hell! I told my friend about my dilemma and she nonchalantly told me that it happens but “it’ll be back to normal soon, it’s part of the process”. Gotcha! but a little heads up would’ve been nice.

Pack your cape away for a little while

Moms are literal superheroes but listen mama, I know the dishes need to be washed, there’s a pile of laundry, you didn’t shower and your hair is dirty. But take it from me when I say. Time flies! Your baby won’t ever be this little again and one day, will not need you this much. It might be new and a bit difficult to take a step back but do yourself a favor and try. Live in the moment and do the best you can. In 20 years what will you remember more? The laundry you got done or the days spent loving on your baby?

Talk to your husband about your feelings and expectations

I have a tendency sometimes to think that my husband could literally read my mind. And I sometimes have (and still do), expect him to know what I want and how I am feeling without even saying a word. Definitely don’t do this. Be clear about your expectations and communicate. You really don’t need the added stress of household friction on top of having a newborn.

You’re going to be less judgmental of other moms

Before I had my daughter, I swore up and down that I would NOT bed share, and I was super convinced that stay at home moms had it easy, lounging around and having me time while their kids napped. Boy was I delusional! For starters, I sat upright on my sofa for weeks because my daughter refused to sleep out of my arms. One day in a fit of desperation I laid her next to me in bed and cuddled her and it was the first proper sleep I got since she was born. To this day, she still refuses to sleep without me at night. As for my notion about lounging stay at home mothers? That went out the window real quick, sometimes I struggle to even make it to the shower if my husband isn’t home. Being a mom is hard work, whether you work or stay at home.

Follow your instincts

When you have your baby, you’re going to get tons of advice from well-meaning people. But every baby is different and what worked 10 years ago isn’t necessarily best practice now. The moral of the story is, you’re the mom and you know your kid. Follow your instincts and take advice from non-professionals with a grain of salt. You got this!

There will be tears, fears, doubts and missteps but that’s OK

You will cry (boy will you cry), you will be scared, you might think you’re doing things wrong and you will make a few blunders. But guess what? It’s part of the process, and your baby will forgive you.

Breastfeeding hurts

In the beginning your nipples will definitely suffer. As long as your milk is flowing and you decide to proceed, suck it up, slap some nipple balm on those bad boys and let them get to work. In a few weeks they’ll get used to gummy bites, tugs, pulls and everything in between.

If you’re worried about being a good mom, you’ve won half the battle

At some point during your motherhood journey, you will worry about your mothering skills. I questioned myself a lot! At every step of the way I was concerned about doing everything right! I think that especially came from information overload, Facebook mommy groups, professional Instagram mommies with their perfect shots and expert opinions on what should happen and how things should be done. Seriously though, don’t get too caught up in that stuff. Every kid is different, every family is different and everyone’s circumstances are different. The fact remains that all babies aren’t born to loving, caring mothers, and while sad, I hope you realize that if you do find yourself caring enough to be worried, you already are a good mom. As long as your child is happy, screw perfection.

xo

-Nic