A Self-Care Exercise Every Busy Mom Needs

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Today, I was reading some interesting articles about the stages of motherhood, and one therapist was talking about how people in general go through this huge mental shift around the age of 40.

They discover that the view they've always held of life is quite limited, often fenced in by the conventions of how they were raised.

Consequently, parents start to let go of these rules that they were raised with and begin parenting more authentically, almost as if they've gained permission to make their own choices.

Also around this time, many people- women and men both- often make big life shifts like changing jobs, partners, new houses, etc. as they are dealing with this transition of thoughts and feelings.

I'm sure this relates to what we think of as the "mid-life crisis," but my interpretation of her thoughts is that it doesn't always take the form of a crisis. Sometimes, it's the manifestation of the beneficial letting go of previous patterns in our lives that hold us back or are not genuine to us.

She goes on to talk about how this affects women who become moms at a later age and how dealing with the neediness of young kids, toddlers, and infants can be very difficult when there's all of this background noise going on in their heads.

What was her tonic for this? More self-care. (shocker, right?)

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This totally struck a nerve in me because I witness this all of the time and is a huge reason for what I do as it seems like no one really gets this. And while there may be developmental/physiological reasons for this particular transition around our 40's, MOST women, no matter their age, have overflowing baggage they are carrying around causing a consistent rumbling hum behind their usual everyday thoughts.

Because of the busy lives we lead, particularly as parents, it's hard to even notice them. Sometimes this is intentional- if we stay busy enough we don't have to deal with the confusion or pain these thoughts may induce.

Other times, we are so consumed with the here and now we are simply oblivious.

Ultimately, we don't take the time to be silent and notice the hum.

What happens when we don't do that, you ask??? Well, my friend, do let me share just a few things.

  • We can hold negative emotions in our tissues causing or contributing to aches and pain. I know that may sound a little woo-woo to some of you, but stay with me. It can be as simple as being tense... we're stressed about something and find ourselves clenching our jaws or holding our shoulders tight and slightly elevated. These are easily identifiable ways we may notice our bodies reacting to a negative situation. However, some not so easily identifiable ways are holding that tension in our lower backs, hips and even pelvic floor. Did you know that having an "anal retentive" personality is actually a risk factor for pelvic pain as these individuals tend to have much tighter pelvic floor muscles?

  • The constant chatter of negative self-talk can not only directly contribute to inflammation levels via increased cortisol production, but it also may indirectly impact inflammatory processes through choices that are unhealthy, don't serve us well, or create more stress and chaos in our worlds. As many of you know, heightened inflammation levels can contribute to a myriad of issues of varying degrees such as disrupted sleep, increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome, autoimmunity, full-blown diseases and even heart attacks or strokes.

  • We lose our sh*@t quickly or when we don't mean to, particularly with our kids. The overwhelm from the crazy amounts of mental activity required to simply survive our daily routines combined with that background noise we talked about above may contribute to easily being overly stimulated by noise or touch. We then parent in a way that doesn't align with our values. Of course this behavior usually sends us further down the rabbit hole by adding more guilt and negativity to our thoughts.

So, here is my challenge for you today, mamas.

Make a list of every accomplishment- big or small- you can think of in the past 12 months. If you're struggling, leave the time frame off.

Got your list? Ok- soak it all in. You did {ALL} of this.

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Isn't it amazing that things like having a miscarriage to holding your magical rainbow baby in your arms can happen in a year?

You consistently worked out/cooked 80% of your meals at home/meal prepped, etc. for HOW long?

You lost weight, found your inner strength, learned how to use your voice kindly around your in-laws…

You kicked a bad habit, found new friends, survived the first day of kindergarten…

You got a promotion, finished a huge project at work, started a new career or business, finished a degree or educational program of some sort…

Finally finished that home project that's been on your to-do list for waay too long…

Survived a week of a stomach bug that stormed through your family with the house still standing, everyone is alive, and somehow you still have so much love for those heathens…

Made headway in your marriage/partnership or perhaps finally gathered the courage to leave a toxic relationship…

SO MANY THINGS could possibly be on this list. For that you deserve to celebrate and not discount any one of those things that you made happen.

How can you show yourself some appreciation today for all of these accomplishments?

Ready for a deeper dive??

Now, take a broad view of your list. Do you see any patterns? Are all of your accomplishments only about your kids or your job? What speaks to you from the list about your identity?

What would you love to see on that list? Take a moment and visualize your life as if that had happened.

Now, take a long, deep breath and slowly let it out.

It's time to go back to the bad ass mama you are, hopefully with a little more confidence and positivity in your heart and brain.

PerspectiveErin Collins