Moms don’t often get the credit they deserve for the amount of work they do each and every day. Moms fulfill the roles of nurse, teacher, childminder, cook, coach, and mentor – often all at once, and without a day off! No wonder they often experience huge amounts of stress.
When responsibilities pile up, they can eventually cause burnout and other unhealthy states that can be very difficult to reverse without effort and sometimes more drastic action like a medical intervention. Even when cases of stress don’t reach critical or drastic states, they can still be overwhelming to manage and can cause hardship for not only Moms themselves but for everyone in the family.
This article will explain some key concepts and helpful steps to keep Moms from risking high levels of stress that can turn into burnout.
“The Five R’s” – A Helpful Framework for Self-Care
Erlene Grise-Owens, EdD, LCSW, MSW, MRE, devised a set of self-care principles and guidelines that can help shape how self-care might be implemented. These five R’s are “Reframe, reflection, routine, rest, and relationships.”
Reframing refers to the way an individual regards self-care. Self-care makes everything else in your life more possible. If a Mom believes that self-care is superfluous or a luxury, chances are she’s not going to make self-care a priority in her life or schedule. However, a Mom will do her best to implement self-care if she believes it is an essential investment in her overall health and effectiveness as a Mother.
Reflection sets the stage for self-care practices. Only by first taking the time to assess what she needs, whether on her own or with a friend or therapist, can a Mom create a strategy for self-care that ultimately proves effective.
Routine makes a self-care plan stick. Even if it only happens once a month or even once a quarter – can you plan your self-care in a way that it happens regularly and predictably? Once you decide on a self-care routine, try to stick to it for at least a few weeks or months (whichever is appropriate) so that you can experience its full benefits.
Rest emphasizes the importance of stopping and disengaging. Though getting adequate sleep is a huge part of this, other forms of rest are vital as well – engaging in play, breathing exercises, quiet, and enjoyable hobbies that aren’t productive or energy-sapping.
Relationships are a hugely important part of everyone’s self-care and wellbeing. Being able to engage in your relationships in a healthy way will be a key to combating (and not adding) stress.
Physical: Nutrition, Sleep, Exercise
Within the Five R’s framework listed above, you’ll need some practical steps and tools for engaging in self-care and creating a sustainable, effective self-care plan. One important area of self-care involves your physical health and wellbeing.
Engaging in proper nutrition and healthy eating is a great form of self-care investment. Eating better can help you feel better, lessen chronic illnesses and health risks, improve your mental wellness, and increase your energy levels. It also can help you reduce unnecessary body weight. For some, healthy eating can be a fun way to try new recipes, experiment with different diets, and learn. Healthy eating also makes occasional treats or nights out feel much more earned and deserved.
Getting enough sleep can’t be overemphasized. Sometimes this isn’t possible, especially when your kids are young or you are holding down a career on top of motherhood. But when lifestyle tweaks can be made to allow you to get even a little bit more sleep per night, this can result in real change and improvement for your mood, energy, immune system, and general health over time.
Exercise can be a huge contributor to wellbeing. Many Moms include some form of exercise in their self-help strategies. Exercise can take a wide variety of forms. Many fitness or sports programs for kids are beginning to offer ways for parents to get involved or take part in their own activities at the same time.
Running, going to the gym even once or twice a week, learning a new sport or hobby, working out with a friend, getting a membership at a sports facility to swim or rock climb, or taking ballroom dancing lessons or similar can all be fantastic ways of incorporating activity and exercise into your life.
Mental and Spiritual: Mindfulness, Faith Communities, Mentorship
Mindfulness is becoming a hugely popular practice because of its simplicity, availability, and effectiveness in lessening stress. Practicing mindfulness can be as simple as taking part in a five-minute morning routine prompted by an app on your phone. Taking just a few minutes to center your mind, calm your senses, and breathe can have a significant impact on the rest of your life.
Many Moms find faith communities to be hugely important parts of their lives and self-care habits. Being part of a faith community can provide rhythm, rest, relationships, and sometimes reflection and reframing as well.
Though not every Mom has the capacity or interest to seek out mentorship, it can provide huge benefits for many Moms who want a more experienced Mom or other individuals to ask for advice and feedback as they navigate motherhood. Mentor relationships can be formal or incredibly relaxed – it’s sometimes as easy as asking an older Mom to get coffee every once in a while to chat about parenting. This kind of relationship can provide huge self-help benefits for Moms.
The Realities of Burnout: Why This is So Important
The realities of burnout make self-help imperative and necessary for every Mom to think about. Just like professionals in service-centered jobs like nursing or social work, Moms are more susceptible to burnout than many others who don’t experience the same high, constant levels of responsibility and stress that Moms have to bear for years of their lives.
Being a Mom is more demanding than most paid jobs. It’s vital to make sure you have steps in place to help you manage the stress you experience as a Mom.