Finding Time for Yourself (When It Feels Like You Have None)

Anyone else feeling like you're stuck on a Groundhog-Day-Hamster-Wheel-Mom-Hangover? The days are jumbling together, the number of times we're hearing the name "Mom/Mama/Mommy" has increased by 230498, the number of homemade meals we've had to make has skyrocketed, and the walls are starting to feel like they are closing in. WE ARE FEELING IT. If you feel like you want to hide in the bathroom with the doors and windows locked just to sit in peace for a second, we get it. If you're feeling like you need to hide in the closet with a glass of wine, we get it. If you're feeling increased anxiety, depression, or fear, we get it. All of these feelings are valid, as what we are all going through in the world right now is *not our normal*.

Everything Is Closed - Except for Community

Schools are closed, day cares are closed, stores and restaurants are closed, in-person workouts and meet-ups are on hold, we are having to social distance from those we love, and our villages, who normally support us through thick and thin with a hug, a cheers across the table, or a laugh in person, are now faces we can only see on Zoom or FaceTime.

We have to remember to still lean on those people, those faces, and those moments, virtually. Community isn't closed. Friendships aren't closed. Support isn't closed. Laughter isn't closed. And self-care and TLC for our own being is more important than ever.

Let's Talk Self-Care

So, like, can this exist rn for moms?! Self-care is suddenly the new black, as people are finding themselves at home under shelter-in-place orders, with more time on their hands -- they're making homemade bread, reorganizing their junk drawers, dressers, and closets, and diving into new books and Netflix binges. However, moms don't have more time on their hands; in many ways, they have less. Moms are simply trying to stay sane and afloat while doing it all, with their kids home 24/7. How the heck can they find time for self-care when they can barely find time to wash their hair??

Finding Time for Yourself

Finding Time for Yourself (When You Have Zero Extra Time)

We know times are tough, and finding "me time" is even tougher in our current state of "normal." But, it's SO SO important for you to take care of your own mental and physical health while you're busy taking care of everyone else's.

Here are some tips on how to sneak some mama-TLC into your life, and what you can do to help ease anxiety and reduce stress during these chaotic times wreaking havoc on our central nervous systems, our minds, our bodies, and our lifestyle...

1) Set your alarm for an hour before the kids wake up.

Enjoy your coffee, tea, or lemon water - warm. Or even sneak in a shower where you can shave your legs and actually dry your hair, in peace. Use this time to cherish the calm before the storm. Savor the silence, your clean house, and your sanity before the volcanic eruption and tornado come through (aka, kids).

2) Take a mental break during nap-time, if your kids still take them.(Otherwise, schedule in-room quiet time or outdoor play-time where you can be hands-off). Don't watch the news, don't login to Instagram; in fact, put down your phone. Try something relaxing, like reading a couple chapters of a book, opening an adult coloring book and actually using it, making a vision board, journaling what you're grateful for, writing out your goals and dreams for the next few months (even if it's using less dry shampoo and wearing something other than sweatpants), sit on your porch and soak in some fresh air; just take care of yourself during these hectic times, Mama. It truly is the little things that make a big difference in how we think, look, act, react, and feel.3) Practice mindfulness + meditation.When you find a few minutes of quiet time (which typically involves the rest of your house sleeping), cuddle up and listen to a meditation, like this 5 minute one, recorded by our founder, Lisa Druxman where she focuses on helping you ground yourself during our new normal. Incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your life can help reduce stress and ease anxiety, allowing you to relax and reset, and even may help keep the immune system functioning optimally (2). Get into the routine of setting aside time for yourself, in peace and quiet, where you can tune into your thoughts and your breath. Women are jugging A LOT right now, especially, and it's more important than ever to take care of mom's mental and physical health (3). Meditation can help relieve tension and stress, help us re-connect with ourselves to recharge, improve our focus, and allow us to dive into grace and gratitude.

4) Tuck the kiddos in a little early so you can breathe & reset (and eat your fave snacks in peace).

Create a wind-down routine for yourself after your kids are tucked in. Do a face-mask, give yourself a mani/pedi, eat the chocolate you've hidden from them, or dive into a Netflix or Hulu show you've been wanting to watch (Tiger King, anyone?). We actually did a little quarantine-mama-faves-binge-worthy-TV-show round up: Little Fires Everywhere, Love is Blind, YOU, Virgin River, Riverdale, All American, Schitt's Creek, Grace and Frankie, The Office, Parks & Rec, The Crown, Peaky Blinders, Mindhunter, Explained, Big Little Lies, Queer Eye, Stranger Things, Good Girls, Black Mirror, The Good Place, Queen of the South, Narcos, Orange is the New Black, The Haunting of Hill House, The Sinner, How to Get Away with Murder, Workin' Moms, Dead to Me, & Pretty Little Liars. What are you watching?

5) Try to set a routine and stick to it.

And by routine, we don't mean you have to follow that perfectly color-coded homeschooling schedule to a tee; we mean, focus on the same wake-up times every day, the same meal times, the same free-play times, learning times, bedtimes, and the things that help you keep your sanity, not lose it. Do the best you can, where you are, with what you have, period. Moms have SO MUCH on their plates right now, and it's impossible to do everything. Set small goals for the day or even the week, and focus on those -- and what you can control -- rather than what you can't (like when the heck schools will finally be open again and when people will finally all stay home so we can save lives and get back to living outside of our quarantine bubbles).

6) Move, every day.

We repeat, MAKE SURE YOU ARE MOVING YOUR BODY EVERY DAY. Right now, especially, exercise is SO important for your mind, your body, and your overall well-being...your immune system, your physical health, your stress levels, and your mental health all depend on exercise, which stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals produced by the body to cope with pain or help relieve stress. "Endorphins are often called 'feel-good' chemicals because they can act as a pain reliever and happiness booster," says Medical News Today. Go for a walk around your neighborhood, try this at-home stroller workout, find a secluded trail with no one else around and take your quaranteam for a hike, find your local FIT4MOM and do their Zoom workouts, go for a run, or stretch your body before bedtime with a restorative routine like this one. Just move, it does a body and soul good.

7) Get into nature, soak up vitamin D, and breathe in fresh air.

While we have to social distance to slow the spread and pause any group activities like hiking our favorite trails with friends or having pool parties, there are still a lot of things to do at home, in your backyard, or out in nature with your quaranteam to avoid going stir crazy or getting cabin fever. Here are some ideas for families: hike a local trail with your family, plant a veggie garden in your backyard, do yard work you've been avoiding, go on a walk around your neighborhood, do backyard yoga or meditate in the sunshine, play catch, play kick-the-can, install a tetherball, set up a basketball hoop, jump on the trampoline, decorate your driveway with sidewalk chalk (write cute notes to your neighbors!), go for a bike ride, take the dog to run in an open field, or visit a local nature preserve.

8) Eat healthy to keep your immune system strong.

Incorporate fresh fruits and veggies into every meal and make sure you're consuming nutrient-dense foods to give your body the proper amount of vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy. Focus on eating more fruits, veggies, nuts, lean meats/fish rich in omega-3s, and whole grains, while staying away from processed foods as much as possible (3). That being said, hey, if it helps you unwind after a long day, we see that Ben & Jerry's pint in your fridge, and think you should enjoy that in your comfiest PJs.

9) Limit news-watching and time on social media.

While it's important to stay informed on current happenings to keep you and your family educated and safe, the American Psychological Association found that, for many Americans, news consumption has a downside; More than half of Americans say the news causes them stress, and many report feeling anxiety, fatigue or sleep loss as a result, the survey shows. Yet one in 10 adults checks the news every hour, and fully 20% of Americans report 'constantly' monitoring their social media feeds — which often exposes them to the latest news headlines, whether they like it or not. (4). And, while stress can cause harm to our mental health, it can also cause a detriment in our physical health, too. "Stress-related hormones, namely cortisol, have been linked to inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease and other serious health concerns," says Markham Heid, author for TIME. Block out "news updates" time for yourself and your family - dedicate this time of day (preferably in the morning so you're not anxious before bed) to get informed, in a healthy way, without overdoing it. Maybe tackle the messy hall closet you've been neglecting? Or take a nap. We support you either way.

10) Plan a virtual happy hour, activity, or date with your friends and family.

Maintaining a sense of community and connection with those that mean the most to us so important, especially during these uncertain, trying times. Carve out time for your friends during shelter-in-place orders; a positive social circle is good for the body and soul; so is laughter and connection. Looking for ways to keep your little ones entertained while playdates are cancelled? Find your local FIT4MOM and tune into their virtual meet-ups.

11) Up your water game & stay properly hydrated.

Women, on average, should drink about 11 cups of water a day. Staying properly hydrated is good for the skin, aids digestion, helps keeps joints lubricated, helps balance blood sugar and body temperature, and helps your body flush toxins (3).

12) Make your own sleep a priority, just like you make your kid's sleep a priority.

Did you know that more than 60% of women fall short of getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night? What are some things that can help with an increased quality of sleep? Many of the tips listed above, such as regular exercise, managing stress, and building healthy habits, overall (3). Quality sleep is important for all mom's well-being.

13) Let yourself feel all the feels rn.

Know that you are not alone in feeling anxious, scared, panicky, depressed, or like you're living in a bubble full of fear and unknown. You are feeling these things because, well, you are living in a bubble full of fear and the unknown. But, shift your focus to what you can control rather than what you cannot. What are you grateful for despite all of the tough things going on in the world or within your family/life? Write these down and read them aloud to remind yourself there is good in the world amongst the chaos. Allison Forti, a licensed clinical mental health counselor and associate director of the Online Master's in Counseling Program at Wake Forest University, said the following in an interview with CNN: "When under stress, it's not uncommon for people to engage in coping strategies such as drinking excessive alcohol, smoking cigarettes, eating a poor diet, or not getting enough sleep, which can also negatively impact the immune calm our anxiety during this stressful time, first acknowledge that it is okay to feel stressed, anxious and afraid. It is okay to feel panicked...(but) look for ways to ground yourself in a safe and healthy way that does not cause harm to others." (2)

The tips mentioned above are a great way to ground yourself amongst social distancing and extra stress caused by COVID-19 -- daily exercise, connecting with friends and family virtually, reconnecting with your local community and FIT4MOM group, focusing on getting enough sleep, water, and healthy foods, getting into nature, and nourishing your mental and physical health with meditation, movement, and setting boundaries.

We have to keep our minds and our hearts open to what matters what most right now, and that's our own mental and physical health, the things that can bring us happiness and gratitude regardless of what's going on in the outside world, focusing on the things we can control rather than what we cannot, and soaking up love and support from our friends and our family, even when it's virtual.