As a stay-at-home mom of 4 young kids, I understand and know, first hand, how hard it is to make time for yourself. There are days when being able to go to the bathroom alone feels like a mini-vacation! We push ourselves to get things done-cleaning, cooking, shopping, keeping the kids alive...it can take a toll on even the most "together" mom. Taking time to recharge should be a top priority. I know how hard it is to put yourself first because I'm also guilty of not taking enough time for myself. Here's the catch, if we don't do these things for ourselves, we can't be our best for our families.
Guilt is one of the reasons a lot of people, moms especially, don't take the time to do things for themselves. You may feel like you are being selfish, and that's okay. You need to be selfish sometimes. If you continually take on more than you can handle without taking a break, the consequences can be horrible. The stress will catch up to you and you will find yourself feeling very overwhelmed. You may start getting extra snippy with your children or spouse. A sense of resentment may start to build inside you, which is never a good thing. We have all heard about the moms that snapped and harmed their children. We all know that they had to have had a mental breakdown to harm their precious children. So what can you do to protect yourself from this happening to you? Make time for yourself a priority! Whether it is 20 minutes in the morning of prayer and meditation or making a monthly appointment to get a massage or pedicure, it is never a waste of time or money to do something to boost your mental health.
Massage is one of my favorite ways to recharge and I will be the first to admit that I don't do it nearly enough. Massage has many health benefits from helping relieve pain to helping combat depression and anxiety. If you are planning to get a massage, make sure the therapist has had training and is licensed. Massage is wonderful for the body, but can cause harm if performed by someone who is not trained in massage therapy. If you decide to go for massage, be very open with your therapist about what you are wanting to achieve with the massage. Don't be afraid to speak up if the therapist is using too much pressure or not enough pressure. Communication is key to having a pleasurable massage and your body getting the most benefit from it. If something is painful, speak up. You won't offend the therapist, I promise. As a massage therapist myself, we are here to help you. If we are hurting you, it is not helpful as it cause you to tense up more. There will be times of discomfort in some modalities of massage, such as deep tissue, when trying to get a muscle to release, but there shouldn't be unbearable (or nearly unbearable) pain.
Another idea is to take time at the end of each day for yourself. One of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day is to get my kids to bed and take a long relaxing bath. When I take a bath, it is for the purpose of relaxing. I line the backside of my tub with lit candles, put a bath bomb or bath salts in the tub for aromatherapy, and just relax. I like to find some calming music on pandora and just soak for a while. It is my way of recharging. You should make your bath into an oasis so you can allow yourself time to relax and unwind.
Whatever you decide to make your "me time" to be, try to be consistent. Be it having a weekly coffee date with a friend, nightly stretching and quiet time before bed, or getting a pedicure every few weeks, do not deny yourself of this precious time. Don't feel guilty for making your mental health needs a priority in your life. If will enhance not only your life, but the life of your family.
If you feel like your mental health is not what it needs to be, please contact a mental health practitioner. While the aforementioned ideas can help relieve anxiety, if you suffer from depression or other mental health issues, please seek out help. Don't be ashamed to admit if you feel like you don't have control of your mental health. Reach out to someone and ask for help. Below is a list of hotlines if you would like to speak to someone anonymously.
Good Samaritans Hotline 212-673-3000
Parental Stress Hotline 800-632-8188
Suicide prevention hotline 800-784-2433