The rocky road of self neglect

I hit rock bottom when my youngest was about two years old. Standing over the kitchen counter eating cold fish sticks and potato smiles, I thought to myself “I deserve better”. The early years of parenting were tough and I used my busy-ness as an excuse for self-neglect. I ate badly, slept erratically, didn’t exercise unless I was attached to a stroller and I couldn’t remember the last time I had had fun. A pretty sad state of affairs I think you’ll agree!

Self care is a necessity, not a luxury

According to the APA (American Psychological Association) stress in parents is very high and on the increase. Untreated chronic stress and self-neglect go hand in hand and if left unchecked can lead to serious physical and mental health problems. And if that weren’t bad enough it can have a very negative effect on our children. It is easy to slip into making excuses for not taking care of yourself: lack of time, energy, resources or money: but all of these are just a cop out. Self care is not a luxury, it is an absolute necessity. Your child needs you to be happy, energetic and engaged.

Where to start with self care

Self care begins with taking personal responsibility and becoming proactive. Start saying to yourself “I deserve to be happy and healthy”, “I will make time for myself today” or “I need to be healthy for my child” . Then make a commitment to do three things for yourself each day. They needn’t take much more than 5 minutes for each task. I promise you will reap the rewards of this small investment in yourself with improved mood, energy, motivation and focus.

3 essential steps for daily self care

At the beginning of each day take a postit note write down 3 things you commit to doing today… for you!

1. Physical

Do something that is good for your body. Chose something new or challenging, for example: eat a big healthy salad, go to an exercise class with a friend, drink 2 liters of water or make an appointment to see your doctor for that health problem you’ve been ignoring.

2. Psychological

Doing something you enjoy boosts your brain’s happy chemicals and rewires your brain for happiness. Spend at least 5 minutes chatting with a positive friend (moaning minnies excluded), meditate, listen to your favorite songs, take a long soak in the bath or dance around the kitchen a crazy kid. 

3. Progress

Boredom your enemy! We humans need to feel that we are growing. Read a personal development book or novel, learn something new and fascinating, organize your baby’s photos or teach yourself a new skill: anything that makes you feel like you are making progress in your life.

Ready - set - Go

When you have done a task, mark it off and give yourself a pat on the back. Commit to consistent daily action, it may take time before you start to notice a change. Share your successes with a friend and encourage her to look after herself better.. So what are you waiting for? No excuses now!