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Self-care doesn’t need to be fancy

I think we have a tendency to overdo the whole idea of self care. Maybe it’s the Insta-perfect, filtered view we give of self care moments on social media. Sometimes it feels like a spa weekend away from the kids or a new cashmere lounge set is the only self care that ‘counts’.

I don’t think that’s true. In fact, I know it isn’t true, because all ‘self care’ really means is doing something for yourself that will do you good. And it’s individual, because what nourishes me and gives me a lift when I need it, might not work for you at all, and that’s ok.

There’s a problem with these over-the-top representations, because it puts the whole concept of self care quite far out of reach of most new Mums. I remember seeing those posts, and simply thinking “I can’t do that”. I recognised that I was tired and depleted, but I didn’t feel ok leaving my baby with someone else, nor did I have lots of money to spend. So in the end I put the whole ‘self care’ idea into the bin marked “I can’t do this”. And then – on top of being exhausted – I felt like a failure for not being able to achieve “self care”.

The place to start, I believe, is by thinking about the little moments in life that make you feel really good. What, for you, is like stepping into a ray of sunshine, however briefly? It could be literally that, turning your face towards the sunlight and taking a deep breath, feeling your chest expand and your shoulders relax. Perhaps you’ve noticed that keeping well hydrated makes you feel brighter and improves your mood. Take a moment to connect with your body and mind, asking them what feels good.

Small acts of self love are so much easier to incorporate into your day, than resource-heavy activities. Personally, I love to spend a couple of minutes lying on the floor with my legs up the wall! It’s a yoga pose that I find really grounds me, and also gives a nice little release in my lower back and the backs of my legs. I would do it at least daily when my son was little (he still thinks it’s funny now he’s 6!). Am I saying it cancelled out the exhaustion and my anxiety completely? No! But I did feel a small benefit, and most of all I felt like I had achieved a little act of self care.

If you have a go at looking inwards and in this moment, can’t figure out where to start, that’s ok too. The transition to motherhood is destabilising in so many ways, and it’s difficult to know how to help yourself sometimes. My start points would be:

– nutrition

– hydration

– rest (and I don’t mean a straight 8 hours’ sleep – 2 minutes of quiet controlled breathing or my old fave, legs-up-the-wall – really can help to ground a wired mind and body)

– movement

Maybe something there could help shift your energy, and make self care feel a little closer within reach? 

Sending you love x

Resources (I’m not an affiliate, these are personal recommendations):

Mindfulness for Mums: Izzy Judd (Michael Joseph / Penguin Random House, 2020). Some lovely ideas about simple self care rituals in motherhood.

Little Book of Self-Care for new Mums: Beccy Hands and Alexis Strickland (Vermilion / Penguin Random House, 2018). Tips, advice, encouragement, recipes … a lovely, accessible little book.

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