Hey, Mom — when was the last time you took a walk or went for a jog, sat down with your journal, or just took a deep breath and thought about . . . nothing? You might feel a little guilty trying to grab a few minutes for yourself, but you need it. You deserve it! Denying yourself downtime can lead to negative feelings (exhaustion, frustration . . . sound familiar?) that your children will pick up on. By focusing on your internal needs and then external, you can re-energize your whole person. That makes for a happier you. Here’s how to do it:
Visualize your best self.
The more you think positively, the more uplifted and joyful you’ll feel. Therefore, if you focus on your best self, you’ll be more motivated to take the actions needed to reach that place within you. Start by finding a photo from a time when you looked and felt your best. Recall the details: Who were you with? What were you wearing? How did you feel in body and mind? Before going to bed, look at this special photo, close your eyes, and visualize yourself in that place again. Picture yourself smiling. If you can’t locate a photo like this, you can always use your imagination.
Assertive statements such as “I am beautiful” can help reinforce positive feelings. Come up with three to five such statements about yourself starting with “I am.” You might try, “I am smart and intelligent,” “I am toned and sexy,” or “I am terrific.” If you truly look inside yourself, this shouldn’t be hard at all — you really are terrific! Repeat these positive statements every morning and every night five times each. You’ll probably feel silly at first, but you’ll feel better almost instantly. You may even laugh out loud. Go ahead — the more smiles the better.
Respect your inner adult.
Read a chapter of a book, watch a few minutes of informative TV, or call a friend and have a grown-up conversation (that does not involve schedules, carpools, or other official activities).
Make time to move.
Find a spot in your daily schedule for some type of exercise. It doesn’t have to be strenuous if you’re not ready for that; even mild activity, like stretching or a relaxed walk, is beneficial. Exercise is wonderful because it’s 30 to 60 minutes a day during which you can think, breathe deeply (which in itself is cleansing), and sweat out frustrations, all while strengthening your body. As you move, inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Remember and be proud of the fact that you’re choosing to take care of yourself. Keeping in good shape, or losing those extra pounds, is important because a healthy body helps you feel good about yourself. And it sets a fabulous example for your kids.
Nourish your body.
Learn to recognize your hunger cues. Instead of eating according to the clock, notice how you feel both physically and mentally when you’re hungry. You might experience hunger pains or a headache, for example. Mentally, you might feel irritable and unfocused. These are indications that you need some power food, so heed the signs and enjoy a healthy snack like nuts or fruits. Eating smaller portions more frequently helps keep your metabolism fueled so your energy levels and spirits stay high.
Once you see how good you look and feel when you take care of yourself, positive thinking, regular exercise, and a healthy diet will become part of your daily ritual. You will feel more valuable, confident, passionate, and loving, which will result in a deeper connection with your husband, children, and friends. When Mom’s happy, everyone’s happy.