Mother Yourself First
5 Ways to Mother Yourself When You’re Burned Out and Exhausted
Do you ever wonder why you’re so exhausted?
Why you’re unmotivated to get things done?
Or why you’re so quick to snap at someone?
Do you remember when you were a first time mom and your baby wouldn’t stop incessantly crying? Well, my first child, Sarah, was colicky and I remember how exhausted and overwhelmed I was. I didn’t know what to do or how to help her. It wasn’t until I reached out to a mentor mom in a desperate moment of mommy-meltdown that things started to get better. She calmly asked me how much Sarah ate and how much she slept. She also asked how much sleep I was getting. Once she heard my answers, she wasn’t surprised I was a wreck. Not only was I feeding her too often, neither one of us were getting enough sleep! It wasn’t long after I took her advice that I had a happier, more content baby, and I was a much calmer mommy.
As mothers, we are wise to regularly ask ourselves similar questions. We can’t afford to put off caring for ourselves until life eases up. You don’t have to wait until you’re burned out, exhausted, and overwhelmed to try something different or to just give yourself some loving care and attention.
How might you better mother yourself?
Here are a few simple ways to nourish and attend to yourself every day in order to function at your best—emotionally, physically and mentally.
Ask yourself these questions when you’re feeling exhausted, burned-out, and fatigued.
- Are you giving yourself permission to rest?
I really struggle with this. There are a lot of critical voices in my head. I am a doer and feel guilty when I take the time out to rest. I have to remind myself that if I don’t rest, I am cranky and not much good for anything! If I want to function at my best, I need to give myself permission to rest.
What does rest mean for you?
Rest is whatever rejuvenates you. For some of us, this may be taking a nap or curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Rest can be making the time to sit with your face to the sun, taking a walk or listening to music. Maybe it’s meditation or a yoga class. Whatever it may be, give yourself the well-deserved permission to take a time out.
- Are you getting enough sleep?
I’m sure most of us are familiar with the latest studies that recommend between 7-8 hours of sleep each night. It’s true. Without enough sleep, our bodies don’t function like they should. It’s also beneficial to stick with the same time to bed and the same time to rise.
If that doesn’t motivate you to get your ZZZZ’s, maybe this will. Did you know that sleep actually makes you better looking?
It does! I got a chuckle recently reading Martha Beck, who wrote, “Sleep makes you smarter, better-looking, and more creative. It can add years to your life. It does more to improve the long-term quality of your life than money, fancy vacations, or hot sex. Not giving high priority to sleep is frankly insane.”
We spend so much money on beauty products and procedures. What if we just got more sleep? It’s even proven to make us skinner.
When I don’t get enough sleep, I get those dreaded bags under my eyes. What’s up with that? Martha is right; sleep might not improve everything, but it can sure improve a lot!
- Are you making time to exercise?
What is the first thing to go when you’re stressed and time is lacking?
Working with women over the years, the number one answer, hands-down, has been exercise. No surprise. Moms tell themselves there isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done, yet they constantly make time to care for everyone else.
Ironically, exercise is the one thing that can aid us more than anything else. It doesn’t need to be complicated—just moving your body 30 minutes a day offers enormous benefits! And don’t expect to get in the mood. If you wait to feel like exercising, you just won’t do it. Do it anyway. Or better yet, make it a routine. I have found that if I don’t block out my exercise time on my calendar, I won’t do it. Treat exercise like an important appointment. Your mood will thank you, your body and brain will thank you, and you will thank yourself because you will feel a whole lot better!
Also, allow me to address the popular scarcity of time thinking. Studies have found that people who exercise actually get more done than those who don’t. Exercise provides greater clarity, better focus, increases endorphins, and gives you more energy to accomplish what you need to get done!
- Are you eating something green?
Think of food as fuel and yourself as a Mercedes Benz. Would you put the cheapest fuel in a Mercedes? After spending that much money, I don’t think so. You are worth a whole lot more than a Mercedes!
If it’s not sleep, for most of us, it’s what we eat. If you eat healthy foods, you will reap the benefits emotionally, physically, and mentally. Our food impacts us more than we want to admit. Eating healthy foods and staying away from the processed stuff will keep your energy levels up all day and give you greater brain clarity. Make simple changes. Replace a coke with water, eat more veggies, and stay away from processed foods. Add proteins and eat less carbs. Notice what a difference it can make! Nourishing yourself with healthy food is one way you can be a loving mother to yourself.
- Are you saying no?
Melody Beattie sums it up nicely: “For many of us, the most difficult word to say is one of the shortest and easiest in the vocabulary—NO. It’s easy to pronounce and hard to say.”
If you gave yourself permission today to say no, what would you say no to? What don’t you want to be doing? What isn’t your responsibility to do that you’re doing? If you said no, would the world go on without you?
We all have things that we don’t want to do but have to do—that’s a given. But what about the things that you do every day that you really don’t have to do? What might you be saying yes to that you don’t really enjoy?
Gain clarity about what is your responsibility and what isn’t. Pay attention to how you feel about saying yes— does it feel good or could you be trying to be “nice,” not disappoint someone, or believe you have to?
Align your life with what you want to do and you may find you actually like yourself and others a whole lot better!
By lovingly mothering ourselves, we can be nourishing role models for our kids. What a gift to give to them!
What is one thing that you can do today to better care for yourself? What would you give yourself permission to do? Would you tuck yourself in bed, read a good book, go out and get some exercise, prepare a nourishing meal, or stop doing one thing that you don’t want to do? Giving yourself permission to mother yourself first may not magically make everything fall into place. However, I am confident you will feel a whole lot better!
Questions: What is one thing you are going to do today or this week to better mother yourself? What is one thing you can eliminate or say no to, in order to gain more time in your day?