The Importance of Making Self-Care a Priority
The Importance of Making Self-Care a Priority
Self-care is a term that has taken over the wellness world over the past few years. It has officially hit cliché status.
While a trendy term, I also believe whole heartedly in it and am grateful that it has become an integral part of our collective consciousness.
To me, self-care equates to self-love. And why would that ever be negative? To love oneself in mind, body, and spirit, means understanding what your needs actually are and then taking action to fulfill them.
I am a big believer in daily self-care rituals that are attainable and easily folded into one’s lifestyle. The last thing any of us really needs is the pressure to add anything else to our lives that feels like a “should” or a “have to.”
Self-care is an umbrella term that covers endless options in ways to make yourself feel nourished, loved, well cared for, healthy, and beautiful. I tend to look at my self-love options throughout the day as “what does my nervous system need right now?” Oftentimes it’s a short walk in the nearby woods, a drive to gaze at the ocean, water with a lemon, a snack, some warm tea, a quick three-minute reset meditation, a hug from my children, a ten-minute lie down, a check-in with my husband, or even the simple act of lighting a candle or some gorgeous incense as I reply to a long list of work emails.
It does not need to be fancy. It does not have to be anything outside of yourself. In fact, even better if you can find true happiness within!
Tend to the things that light you up — your spirit, your emotional needs, your nervous system. Notice what you do unconsciously throughout the day and ask yourself why. If you have a free five minutes do you automatically reach for your phone to scroll on IG or could you use that time to actually refill your cup with meditation, playing mantras, or manifestation daydreaming? It’s the little health hacks throughout your day, your week, your month that will add up. A ten-minute walk is better than no walk. A three-minute meditation is better than no meditation.
It’s so easy to get into an all-or-nothing mental mindset, but every little bit of self-love adds up to be priceless. (This is probably one of the biggest lessons that I have learned from Motherhood.)
When our babies or children are young, it can feel impossible to carve out any self-care time. Taking a shower when you want to or going to the bathroom alone may seem like distant memories — and that can feel depleting and lead to resentment.
I have learned to maximize my “me-time” no matter how little time I have. If I need to walk, I put my baby in the carrier or stroller and get what I need for myself to be the best mom I can be that day.
The archetypal martyr mother needs to be a thing of the past. Instead of complaining and shaming, we need to mother from a place of grace, strength, and self-love.
Our children model everything after us. During the ages of 0-7 they are like little sponges, absorbing everything that we show and teach them. Even the unconscious habits and patterns that we are unaware of, they are taking notes! Teaching your children how to identify their own needs is one of the greatest tools you can give them.
As a mother of two daughters, it has been a diligent daily practice to show up in all my glory and realness. If you are teaching your children that they are beautiful and perfect exactly as they are, but then speak horribly about yourself, they will model that behavior. Even on the days when I might want to speak negatively or make verbal judgements, I stop myself. I never want to teach them any of my old and outdated negative programming.
It is a practice and I am not always perfect. But I have made it a daily reminder to show up brighter and better for myself and, therefore, them.
Some of my favorite self-care tips that are free or low cost are as follows…
- Rest. I am not a great version of myself when I get less than eight hours of sleep. Also, if I am nearing my moon time (period) I give myself more grace than usual and reduce my tasks if I can. I also will lie down during the day if my body is asking for it. I always put my period dates into my calendar so I am aware of my greater need to slow down.
- Eat well. Eat enough. Eat when my body wants to be fed. Follow what my body is asking for. I am a big believer in intuitive eating.
- Prioritize drinking water. I personally loathe drinking water but I add lemon to it and know that I feel so much better when fully hydrated.
- Say no to the things that don’t bring positive energy to my life (if possible). It has taken me until my 40’s to fully embrace the fact that “no” is a complete sentence and that it is not my role to people-please everyone.
- Dance. Dance daily in my house with loud music. Dance daily with my kids. Connect to fun. Show my kids that I have fun and love my life.
- Stop comparing myself to others. This means I limit my social media use to a certain amount of time per day. If I am having a particularly insecure day, I stay off. Know thyself and heed your needs.
- Meditate daily. I have gone through so many different phases of meditation over the past two decades but, no matter what, I aim for at least 10 min per day and double or triple that when I can. It completely resets and aligns me with Spirit and my Highest Self. My day seems to flow after that. I also love doing a guided meditation or yoga nidra at night with my headphones in.
- Create sacred space for yourself and moments during the day to have your own personal space — a hot bath at night with essential oils, lighting a candle, a few minutes to journal in your room without your kids. I know for myself, when I get just a tiny bit of time to reset without my kids, it makes us all a little happier.
- Breath work. This is a big world of its own but deep full breathing is so wonderful for your overall health and nervous system.
All that matters is that YOU feel good. Women and mothers have to be open to receiving after all the giving that we do throughout the day. There must be balance. If not, you will see disease in the male/female energies within yourself.
Let whatever makes you feel great in your own skin lead your journey while also examining the why behind it. Sometimes when we peel back the layers, we find our true needs have changed. As I always say, in life there is always a space to repair and re-route. Jai Ma.
McLean McGowan is a Motherhood Coach, Postpartum Doula, Podcaster, Prenatal & Postnatal Healing Guide, Nutritionist, Hypnotherapist, Pilates, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Lactation Educator Counselor, Death Doula, Reiki Practitioner, wife and Mother of two daughters living in Los Angeles. After the birth of her first daughter, McLean quickly realized that there was a great need for women to be supported on a deeper level, not only through pregnancy and birth but especially during the Postpartum shift. Becoming a Postpartum doula has led her to her truest passion — supporting women as they transition from Maiden to Mother. Learn more about her on her Instagram @motherthemother or on her website, motherthemother.com.