3 Things Mothers Should Prioritize During and Post Pandemic
After months stuck home with the kids, the pandemic’s stress is starting to reflect on our appearance and demeanor. Taking care of everyone else while juggling the tasks we have brings a self-neglect level that must not be left unchecked. We accepted that this crisis is going to last much longer than initially anticipated. We adapted to the circumstances — we now work from home, shop online, and are ready to take whatever comes next. We may take another full-time job (on top of being a caregiver — cook, housekeeper, teacher, and sometimes butler).
Before we burden ourselves even more for the new year ahead, we must take care of ourselves. Our mental health demands attention. This is not the time to postpone it. Small actions you take towards your well being — body and soul — can help you find balance. Give yourself permission to take short breaks throughout the day to practice the three tips below.
Tip #1. Meditate
Mindful meditation allows us to be in touch with reality — not with our negative perception of reality. We are frequently fueled by the news bombarding us with horrible things happening in the world. But there is everything else, including the things we should be grateful for, such as motherhood. A principle of meditation is, “whatever happened in the past and whatever happens in the future is not under our control.” An invitation to appreciate the present moment, meditating is the act of staying focused on nothing in particular, avoiding distractions while listening to your mind.
The practice’s goal is to find inner peace, and enjoy it. By emptying the “trash” of our thoughts, we can develop a healthy perception of the present, letting go of the need to control everything and fix all the problems around us. To start meditating, all you need to do is find a quiet place — like a bedroom or even a closet — where you can stay without being interrupted for about ten minutes, silencing all thoughts and internal noise. With your eyes closed, notice your breath and any muscle tension. Slow your breathing and gently relax. To help stay focused, use a mental note like “in” and “out.” Or, count the inspirations and exhales from one to ten. A popular yoga relaxation method is to slowly breathe in four counts, hold that breath for another four counts, and finally exhale in yet another four counts.
If you are uneasy the first time and do not seem capable of quieting your mind, don’t give up. With consistency, you will create a habit and will soon be able to relax within moments of sitting down at your quiet spot. This is a quote on the importance of meditating by the Mayo Clinic on the subject:
Meditation may offer many benefits, such as helping with concentration, relaxation, inner peace, stress reduction and fatigue. Research has found that meditation may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. When combined with conventional medicine, meditation may improve physical health.
Lacking time is a common excuse and lack of privacy when kids are at home all day, interrupting you. But remember, it is not the length of time that counts but just staying quiet for a few moments. If you need help starting, you can download a meditation app on your phone — make sure to set the device to “do not disturb” mode when using it. Websites like YouTube are also filled with guided meditation videos that are free to use.
Tip #2. Exercise
Regular physical activity offers excellent psychological benefits. For that reason, we must find a way of moving for several minutes every day. My chiropractor always reminds me: any light exercise is better than slouching. So, move around. But not just moving from one motherly chore to the next — but making sure our posture is aligned, and we exercise seriously enough to feel rewarded at the end. Exercise stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin — brain chemicals, which play an essential part in regulating our mood. They help reduce the emotional factors resulting from idleness, such as anxiety, irritability, and insomnia.
If you can move for twenty minutes every day, that is excellent. Like meditating, it is not how long you do it for; it is the consistency. The combination of my two first tips, meditation and exercise, can be found in yoga and Tai Chi Chuan. Those practices guide you into disengaging mental noise and focusing on your movements. As busy as your daily routine is, take some time to tend to your body. You deserve it.
Tip #3. Moisturize
Is pandemic stress harmful to the skin? You bet it is. Free radicals — the molecules responsible for the oxidation and premature aging of cells, which cause wrinkles — are brewing. At the same time, we are consumed with worrying, sleeping poorly, and slacking on a healthy diet.
I have a Twitter friend who does not go to bed every night before tweeting out a reminder to her friends to moisturize. I admit: before following her, I was too upset with late-night politics to take care of my face. But after she called me out by name via tweets a few times, I decided to comply and started moisturizing my face — every night without fail, even when I miss her tweet.
If you already have a skincare routine, now it is the time to stick with it. If you don’t, order a gentle cleanser, an exfoliant toner, and face cream or lotion. That’s all you need to start. If you wear makeup, add to that a makeup remover lotion or facial wipes. In addition to moisturizing your face, pay some special attention to your feet. The most neglected part of our bodies, the feet, are probably drying up fast as we walk around the house, too busy to care. Give them some love by applying lotion on them after the shower, and wear socks.
Finally, keep in mind, mommas: if you do not do these three little things for yourself, no one will do them for you. Your kids can manage to distract themselves for a few minutes. A little self-care can do wonders to our spirit while reminding us to enjoy life despite our current challenges.