By Christine Murray, HRI Director

Do you ever read articles about self-care for moms and laugh at the thought that you could actually find time to really practice self-care? Especially those articles that tell you to do it every day (just like the one I’m guilty of writing here!)? Talk about pressure–Now, not only do you have to do everything that you need to do as a mom, but you also have to add in time to take care of yourself! Self-care can start to feel more like an added obligation, rather than the source of renewal and relaxation that it’s supposed to provide.

If you’re a busy mom (and if you’re a mom, you are, by definition, busy), self-care often feels like a luxury that’s out of reach. But, as we’ve discussed throughout this series, self-care is an essential practice to help parents sustain their energy so that they can be the most effective parents they can be. Sometimes, however, all you have is a few minutes available to you, so it’s important to be prepared with brief but effective strategies to take care of yourself when you have the chance.

Every person has unique ways they like to recharge, so to get you started in thinking about some quick ways for you to practice self-care, consider the ideas on the following list. All of these self-care strategies can be done in five minutes or less (although many can be extended to take more time if you have them!):

  • Slow your breathing down and practice diaphragmatic breathing. To learn about this breathing technique, check out the following resource: http://www.psychology.uga.edu/sites/default/files/CVs/Clinic_Diaphragmatic_Breathing.pdf
  • Write your current stressors down in a journal. If being at a computer isn’t part of what causes you stress, consider keeping an electronic journal, especially if you type more quickly than you read.
  • Color with an adult coloring book that contains calming or inspiring images.
  • Keep a gratitude list. Write down things that you’re thankful for. You may keep this as a handwritten list or electronically on your computer or smartphone.
  • Play one of your favorite songs, especially one that brings back good memories.
  • Stretch your body, especially in areas of your body where you feel especially tense.
  • Look through old photos of happy memories.
  • Pray or meditate to release your stressors to your higher power.
  • Send a text message or quick email to a friend who you’ve lost touch with.
  • Close your eyes and spend time dreaming about your future. What goal or dream do you have for your life that you’d like to start pursuing?
  • Replace a negative thought with a more positive one. Identify a negative thought or belief that you’re saying to yourself, and consider a truthful, positive thought to repeat instead.
  • Intentionally cut yourself some slack. If you’re beating yourself up for something you’ve said or done, remind yourself that you’re human, you’re not perfect, and that everyone makes mistakes sometimes.
  • Step outside and get a breath of fresh air.
  • Take a quick walk or do some light exercises in place, such as jumping jacks. Getting your heart pumping for just a few minutes can help you feel recharged and bring you new energy.
  • Eat a nutritious snack. Try and be mindful while you’re eating it so you can appreciate its taste and flavors.
  • Go to bed five minutes earlier.
  • Do nothing! Just sit in stillness and enjoy a few moments with nothing to do or think about.

What other five-minute self-care practices would you add to the list? The most important thing is to find strategies that fit into your life and that work for you, so keep experimenting until you can find the best ways that help you recharge and keep your energy and spirits high!

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