Busy Mom? 3 Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care
Being a mother is one of the greatest gifts in life. It is filled with joy and immeasurable love. However, let’s be honest here: it’s also exhausting, overwhelming and sometimes more frustrating and difficult than we imagined it would be. The kids are fighting, dinner needs to be made, the laundry hasn’t been folded in days, the baby needs a diaper change, the bills need to be paid, the dog needs to go out, you have a toddler pulling at your leg, and the list of things to do just keeps on getting bigger. Oh yeah, and then there’s you. Who, you might ask? You, the mom. You, the professional. You the entrepreneur. You, the wife. You, the friend. You. The one who regularly gets left off the to-do list.
Being a good mother requires us to be loving, nurturing, giving, kind and patient. These are traits, that despite the frenzy of daily life, we somehow manage to pull from our depths to offer our children. The question is, can we as moms offer those same traits to ourselves? As a mother and solo-preneur, I’ve learned the importance of self-care. And I also know how difficult it is to make it happen given the reality of life.
Why is it so difficult to make time for ourselves when we somehow manage to make time for everyone and everything else?
Probably because there are only 24 hours in the day and many of life’s other demands tend to scream much louder for your attention. “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.” If we stop and listen, we might notice that there’s another squeaky wheel that’s been begging for our attention: our own.
When we begin to talk about self-care for moms, the issue of guilt often arises. So let’s call it out, like the big elephant in the room: as women, we tend to have an easier time sacrificing ourselves than taking care of ourselves. Most of us would rather drop from exhaustion than face the guilt of caring for our own needs. However, when Mom is depleted, the whole household suffers. And when you take care of yourself, you can better take care of others.
For many women, we hear and understand the importance of self-care. The issue isn’t knowing what we should do; the issue is the logistics of it all. How do you fit self-care into an already overflowing schedule? Who has the time, energy or money for spa days, date nights, yoga classes, gym memberships, meditation or new hobbies?
So what’s a busy mom to do? How do we make time for ourselves while caring for our families, careers and communities?
Here are some practical solutions for putting your self-care back on your to-do list without having to drastically alter your life. These wellness practices have had an amazing impact on my own health and well-being, as well as that of my family. They’re simple, practical and easy to implement into any busy mom’s lifestyle.
Begin your day when the world around you begins to awaken. Early morning is a special time of day, when you can best tune in to subtle energies. How we begin our day sets the tone for the rest of it. Waking up early allows for more time, more productivity and more leisure, making our days less stressful. Add a little TLC to your morning as you awaken and before you rise by practicing the following routine:
Lie on your back and place one hand on your heart and one hand on your low belly. Exhale deeply and sink into your body. Inhale the light of the day and imagine that light of love shining within you. Breathe in the words I am loved, supported and cared for and breathe out the words I love. Think of your spouse, partner, children and loved ones, and let that light of love expand within you and fill you.
Before you get out of bed, say to yourself, It’s going to be a good day! Starting your day like this will add intention and a sense direction to your day. We all struggle with the simple idea of loving ourselves as much as we love our children. When you take a moment to fill yourself with love and support first thing in the morning, you lower your stress levels and begin to tap into your own self-compassion.
“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” ~Thích Nhất Hạnh
This quote from Thích Nhất Hạnh reminds me to move through my days with more ease and more joy. As you move through your days, notice when you are feeling tense, tired, stressed, tight or contracted. At that moment, exhale deeply and soften into the moment. Allow your body and your mind to soften and release their grip. Smile gently at yourself, at the moment, at the word. Take a deep inhale through the nose to the count of five, and exhale deeply for a count of five, allowing your shoulders to drop, your jaw to loosen in a soft smile, and your body and mind to relax.
Regular breathing practices help to calm the body and still the mind. This simple breathing technique will center and ground you, helping you feel less stressed and more energized. Cultivate the habit of breathing intentionally and notice a sense of calm and ease begin to weave itself into the fabric of your days.
Secure Your Oxygen Mask First
In Ayurveda, oxygen in your blood is called “Jivana,” meaning life-giving. Oxygen in your cells is literally the fuel behind your goals and intentions. Securing your oxygen mask first means we make time for ourselves first thing in the morning. Depending on your current routine, this might mean taking a few conscious deep breaths in the morning. Or it might be a brisk walk around the block. For some, it might be stepping onto your yoga mat as a cue to start moving and breathing with intention. The important thing is to build a sense of wholeness and a lightness in your body as a practice into your daily routine.
So take your oxygen mask first thing in the morning. Commit to moving your breath intentionally and clearing your channels before breakfast, before the day can get away from you. Practicing in the morning will affect your entire day, allowing you to make better, more conscious choices.
How to Free Your Soul: Liberating Your Authentic Self
In modern society, we tend to wear a lot of hats, or masks, or whatever metaphor you’d like to use. We have one for our home life, one for work-life, one for close friends and family, one for other friends we’re not as close with…. the list goes on. But what about that unmasked self? Your true, authentic self, the one maybe you only really know?
Is it even possible to show that authentic self to others without some type of filter? And is it even worth it? The short answer, yes. And by embracing this authentic self, you’ll be better prepared to take on the more meaningful pursuits of life, such as your soul’s core desires. These desires of attaining fulfillment, desire, and eventually enlightenment are what we’re all here to do right?
What Does it Mean to Free Your Soul?
To free your soul is to embrace the essence of that authentic self, and wear fewer masks. Of course, it may not always be appropriate to not put on some sort of filter for various life scenarios, but the more you work toward embodying that true self, the more secure you’ll become, subsequently improving your well-being.
And by improving your well-being at the most basic levels, you can then begin to pursue spiritual well-being at higher levels.
Understanding Core Soul Desires
Ancient Vedic texts tell us that there are four core soul desires: the desire for purpose (dharma), the means to fulfill our purpose (artha), the pleasure associated with living our purpose (kama), and freedom (moksha).
These four purusharthas, also known as the four aims of life, are intrinsic. They’re directly linked to the personal, unique Jivatman part of our soul and the infinite, unlimited Paramatman part of our soul.
Your duty, calling, or life’s purpose; you’ve likely heard the phrase “finding your Dharma,” which is typically meant in terms of finding your purpose in life that leads to happiness and fulfillment.
The concept of Dharma is an interesting one and can vary in meaning across the eastern religions that embrace it. Dharma can also refer to the underlying order of the universe or self-organizing nature of reality to which we inevitably align with. Dharma can also refer to the teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism.
Prosperity, or having the things you need to do your dharma. Again, in eastern philosophy, these concepts aren’t simply defined and can mean a few things, but essentially your Artha is the foundational and material things needed in your life. For some, this can mean wealth, a home, and material prosperity—things that make you feel secure and not wanting. For others, however, this can mean health and wellness, because without these you’ll be distracted and focused on attaining them, rather than focusing on spiritual growth and some of the more intangible pursuits in life.
Desire or pleasure; the reward of living our dharma. You’ve likely heard the word Kama before in terms of sexual pleasure and desire—the Kama Sutra. But Kama isn’t purely sexual, it refers to any type of longing, wish, passion, or desire. When balanced with the other three goals of life, Kama is important and necessary to have, if you had no passion or desire for anything in your life, it would be meaningless and you’d probably be pretty depressed. Finding your Kama, and the Kama that really drives you is an absolute must in the attainment of happiness and fulfillment.
Liberation, freedom, or release. The first three lead to this last one. Moksha is tantamount to enlightenment, or the freedom from ignorance and suffering. This is much in alignment with enlightenment: literally lightening up (moving from the base chakras to the ethereal upper ones), and living from a place of love. It’s important to understand each of these forces at the beginning of your personal growth journey to end up experiencing Moksha.