Just One Thing - Self Care for Mums
Self-care has become a bit of a buzz word this year, perhaps as we're all starting to realise that living life in a constantly stressed-out state is having an impact on our physical and mental health! But it's often criticised as seeming like one more thing to tick off the to-do list, or as an expensive luxury.
Suzy Reading, a Chartered Psychologist and Yoga Teacher, has devoted her career in recent years to helping people think about self-care as a necessity, not a luxury. Her recent book The Self-Care Revolution is a must read for anyone feeling a bit frazzled. So who better to ask about self-care for Mums? And the Just One Thing that Suzy would like you to know? 'Write down your self-care toolkit'.
The one thing I would say to all parents – expecting, new, and ‘old’… is to write down your self-care toolkit. It’s not enough to just think about this stuff, you need to write it down. Having a clearly articulated selection of nourishing practices from which to choose will circumvent a whole heap of flapping and floundering about. And if you’re feeling uneasy at the mention of self-care, let’s quickly cast those barriers aside…
What I learnt the hard way is that energetic bankruptcy serves no one. If I don’t proactively and regularly top up my energy bank, I am pretty rubbish at tending to those in my care. If I fall over, how can I meet their needs and my little ones (and not so little ones) need me to keep giving and keep going. So if you can’t do it for you, do it for them. Blow away this idea of it being me, me, me – it’s not me ‘first’, it’s me ‘as well’. Self-care is health care for the head, the heart and the body. There is nothing selfish or indulgent about it. It is necessary if we want to last the distance as parents and let’s be honest here, parenting is a long game. Our kids need us as newborns, toddlers, teens and my mum would be nodding her head in agreement, that this doesn’t change much even when they’re into their forties. We need self-care to give us stamina and resilience as parents and we need to be empowering our kids with the same tools. Seen through this lens, I hope you can tell guilt over self-care to do one.
I would also add here that no one is immune from overwhelm, burn out and mental health challenges. Even with an awareness of a vast array of soothing practices, life can still throw us a curve ball that will land us squarely on our butt. And in that state of chaos, frazzled nervous system, flooding of stress hormones, it is damn hard to think straight. We know we need to take action to nurture ourselves, but where do we start? If you have it written down, you have a massive advantage. You turn to your toolkit and look for something accessible, something of personal resonance, and you GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO NOURISH YOURSELF.
Parents need a whole new toolkit of soothing, energising and healing practices – things that take ZERO time, energy and expense. Please spend some time reflecting on the kind of skills, activities and tools that help replenish your energy bank and write them down. If you’re in that state of overwhelm and you don’t know where to start, hang in there, go gently, I’ve been there too. You just need someone to brainstorm with you, someone in your corner who can help you pin down things that are truly accessible and transformative. You’ll find a whole framework of self-care in my book, The Self-Care Revolution and if you ping me an email I’ll send you a link to a free download with The Vitality Wheel to inspire you. Join my wellbeing community at Instagram for all the lessons I am learning about self-nourishment and for my favourite tips and tools. And to whet your appetite, think along the lines of earthing the brow in childs pose, savouring a scent you love, watching a bird on the wing, zooming in on the tiny hairs around your babies lip, or your partners laughter lines, lying down with your legs up the wall and using a mantra like ‘I soften into this moment’. I hope you enjoy creating your self-care toolkit!
Wishing you peace and ease! We’re in it together.
Suzy Reading, Psychologist, Yoga Teacher & Health Coach
Suzy specialises in self-care, helping people manage their stress, emotions, and energetic bank balance. It was her life experience of motherhood colliding with the terminal illness of her father that sparked her passion for self-care which she now teaches to her clients, young and old, to cope during periods of stress, loss and change and to boost their resilience in the face of future challenges. Suzy is a contributing editor for Psychologies Magazine and the Psychology Expert for wellbeing brand Neom Organics. She figure-skated her way through her childhood, growing up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, and now makes her home in hills of Hertfordshire, UK. Her first book ‘The Self-Care Revolution’ published by Aster, is out now