Too depleted and overwhelmed for self-care? Try these tips. The best part? You’re already doing them!
The challenge: You know taking breaks throughout the day is important but you can’t imagine how to make that happen.
The thing to remember: A break is simply a step away from activity. It doesn’t require you to do anything.
The practice: Start where you are, with what you are already doing and build your self-care practice from there.
In my last post “Why You Need to Chill Out, Mama!” I discussed the natural rhythms of activity and rest our bodies and brains need to thrive. And, I’m guessing you’re are already thinking “Yeah, right. Take a break? Have you seen my life?”
I get it. Life never slows down and there is ALWAYS something or someone that needs your attention. But I’m wondering… is being constantly on working for you? What if there was an alternative?
Sometimes we get this idea that self-care only counts if we’re in a zen-like state of calm. I’m here to dispel that myth.
You make this happen by starting where you are. After all, we are learning to shift into a state of nothing-ness, not more one more to-do. The easiest way to begin is to take something you are already doing and shift the way you experience it.
As you invite calm in on a more regular basis you’ll grow your capacity to explore other ways of taking a break.
3 Daily Self-Care Practices You Are Already Doing
- Drink water
You already know how powerful this is. The days you start with a big glass of water and you keep drinking it throughout you have way more energy and you feel less overwhelmed. That’s because your body and your nervous system are getting exactly what they need.
Your body needs abundant hydration to perform metabolism and elimination aka your energy factory. Your nervous system runs on electricity aka your calm factory. What’s an awesome conductor of electricity? Water!!
So give your body and your nervous system a big ol’ hug and drink a glass of water, right now! (For more tips and tricks for drinking water check out this post and video here.)
You’re already breathing, right mama? Instead of stressed out, get-one-more-thing-done stress breathing try this – take a long slow breath in and let an even longer one out. What do you notice?
Deep, slow, measured breathing is like magic for an overwhelmed and depleted mama. It doesn’t cost anything and you can do it anywhere in any situation.
Here’s why it works:
Breathing deep into your belly activates your diaphragm (the muscle under your lungs) which tells your nervous system that everything is good, no stress response needed.
Contrast that with the type of shallow breathing I’m sure you are familiar with, the one that the body reserves for when it needs to run away or fight. Since you probably won’t need to do that anytime soon stick with belly breathing and enjoy how restored it makes you feel.
I’m a fan of Andrew Weil’s (reference) 4-8 breathe. Watch a demo here.
3. Do one thing at a time
Sometimes we’re in a season of life where it is simply too much to walk away even for a moment. In these cases try this shift – do one thing at a time.
Oh, this is a biggie for us mamas, right?
I am very guilty of trying to do as many things as possible. Next time you catch yourself multitasking stop for a moment and check in with your body.
What do you notice?
For me, I’ll often become aware of a very subtle buzzing feeling. It’s that adrenaline rush that makes me feel like I’m productive but it’s really just me over-extending my nervous system to get more done.
In other words, I’ve turned on my stress response.
Whenever I notice that buzz I know it’s time to step back from whatever I’m doing and make a small shift. I can either walk away from my tasks or I can do it differently.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to take it one task at a time from start to finish. Not start this one going then shift to another in the “downtime” and then another.
Remember those energy crutches I talked about here? Constantly shifting tasks is one crutch many of us mamas rely on. Shifting to a “one thing at a time” mindset helps me to be more realistic about what I have energy for, where I might need to ask for more help, and when I’m using low-level but constant stress as a crutch for dealing with life.
And, it’s surprisingly restorative to do something from start to finish with a higher level of attention, almost like a mini-meditation break. Ever notice that when you focus on just folding the laundry or washing the dishes it takes only a few minutes and is a lot less overwhelming?
A “one thing at a time” mindset really trains your nervous system to crave calm over stress.
Not sure where to start because you’ve been on the overwhelm train too long? Simply pick a time of day and intentionally do your chosen daily practice. Set a timer on your phone for anywhere from 1-20 minutes and respect your time-out. You are worth it!! See what you notice and whether or not it becomes easier to identify other times of the day you might want to take a break and practice.
Despite the pace of mama life, you can choose how you experience it. Does it deplete and overwhelm you or does it bring you closer to an authentic expression of yourself? By incorporating a few do-able daily practices you keep the calm turned on and find the energy to live according to your authentic nature.