Self-care without the guilt:
Despite how simple Instagram makes self-care seem, following through is often harder than it appears.
Making time for ourselves often means saying no - refusing a night out, skipping lunch with friends, or even avoiding phone calls. However, it is extremely difficult to set these boundaries.
I'm always saying yes to things: Of course, I'll do that meeting in the city. Of course, let's have coffee. Sure, I'll mentor that niece of your sister's friend!
When I turn my "yes" into a "no" for self-care, I feel wracked with guilt, as though I'm not showing up for others or wasting my time. As I sit at home trying to relax in a bubble bath, I make mental lists of who I've let down.
Sounds like someone we know…. super zen, right?
I know I’m not the only one who feels shame about self-care.
In general, new mums, both overtly and subtly, are encouraged to minimize our own needs and blame ourselves when we take time for self-care. Just think of how often you see women making references to 'indulging' or 'splurging,' simply because they fulfil basic needs like taking time to relax and enjoying their lunch.
So, what can we do to embrace self-care without feeling guilty about it?
Here are 4 ways to start:
1. A date with yourself.
I have had success in owning my "no" in terms of self-care by making standing appointments with myself.
What about my weekly yoga classes? I have them on my calendar, right up there with work assignments and birthday dinners. By giving self-care the same importance I give other commitments, I not only remind myself to guard my time, but also reinforce that it's worth it. Rather than seeing self-care as a one-off event, it's helped me make it a regular part of my routine.
We all have mum guilt but rarely do we ever question it.
I've learnt to explore that guilt and not push it back. Questioning yourself about your guilt is a key part of performing inner work that can help ease your anxiety, it is amazing what you learn about yourself.
Ask yourself why you feel guilty for taking a little time off. See what comes up for you, and address all of your reasons.
What helped me was to write a journal, writing about it made me dig deeper and allowed me to see clearer
For example, let’s say you feel guilty because your baby needs you. While it may be true that your baby needs you, will time for yourself truly prevent you from sustaining that need?
I found by journaling that I was more helpful for my newborn when I was well rested and was able to recharge by taking some time for myself.
3. Hang up the phone.
One major pitfall of the digital age? 24/7 reachability makes it nearly impossible to take a step back, and texts and calls from family and friends can serve as a constant reminder of what you “should” be doing instead.
Put your phone on do-not-disturb whenever you’re engaging in a self-care activity. That way, you won’t get sucked back into your emotional web, but you won’t miss emergencies, either.
If you’re worried friends or coworkers might not know how to handle a few hours of your absence, set an Out Of Office response explaining that you’ll be offline for a few hours and can handle things when you’re back.
4. Put together a Self-Care Crew.
It’s easy to talk yourself out of taking a solo break—but it is harder to say “no” to friends. Use that to your advantage. Find a yoga class, meditation group, or even a friend from your mother’s group who can do with some rest and relaxation themselves. That way you will stick to your routine when you have planned some zen time with other people!
Self-care isn't selfish—but it can feel that way in the beginning. As you learn to put yourself back on your list of priorities, remember that with practice and patience you’ll become more comfortable with it and know you'll be better for your baby, your husband and yourself.