I am a yoga teacher, an author, and a self-care blogger. I meditate every morning and journal every evening. I’m also a full-time working mom of two kids six and under, and my husband works full time. And, although my yoga practice of more than a decade has been a guiding light to help me navigate modern life as a working mom, I’m not immune to stress. I’m not immune to feeling tired. I’m not immune to feeling overwhelmed. I am a mom like you.
I’ve witnessed my toddlers having tantrums in the middle of the grocery store because they missed the afternoon nap they didn’t want to take. I’ve cleaned up vomit at a car dealership in the back seat of a van we did not yet own when I was nine months pregnant. I’ve had to find empty conference rooms in unfamiliar buildings to pump during a 15-minute break from a meeting. Do any of these experiences sound familiar? (I know I’m not the only one who has cleaned vomit at a car dealership. Right? Come on, friends!)
A day in the life of a mom is no joke. Waking up to get ready for the day, packing lunches, making sure homework is complete, seeing that everyone eats breakfast, making sure everyone looks presentable and doesn’t have oatmeal in their hair or spinach in their teeth, and actually getting everyone where they need to be on time is a modern wonder. And that’s only the first part of the morning! The rest of the day can feel just as busy.
I know how it goes. You over-plan, over-schedule, and over-commit, and then when the things on your list don’t get done, it’s easy to feel frustrated and irritated that you didn’t stick to your list. If this sounds a lot like you, that daily strain can definitely drain you from feeling your best.
How did you reply the last time someone asked you how you were feeling? Did you respond with, “OK” or “good”?
Take a moment to check in with yourself wherever you are right now. How are you feeling? No, really, how are you feeling? How do you feel physically? Is there tension in your shoulders or hips? What about your breath? Is it stuck, rapid and erratic, smooth and steady, or somewhere in between? And your thoughts? Are they scattered and flurried or calm and centered?
Wherever you are, here are five habits that have helped me elevate my answer from “OK” to “amazing,” and they can help you, too.
- Wake up earlier than the rest of the house. This is tough for the night owls, but the calm of the early morning hours is essential to do the things you absolutely want to do before heading into a full day. It might mean 30 minutes to sip on some hot lemon water while journaling. It might mean an hour to work on a project you normally would stay up late doing. It also means going to bed early so you can wake up feeling refreshed.
- Meditate in the morning. This one takes patience, but I don’t start my day without it. Most of us are used to a never-ending to-do list, so it can be pretty tricky to just sit and be with your thoughts, which is basically the opposite of what most people are trying to accomplish in the morning. But as with any practice, the more you do it, the more you grow from it and eventually crave it. I meditate every morning before I even open my bedroom door and step foot into my busy day. The inner smile that’s created with these moments of silence and stillness brings a sense of lightness and freedom throughout my day.
- Eat healthy meals at designated times. Have breakfast in your belly before 9 a.m., break for lunch at noon, and enjoy an evening dinner before 7 p.m. Plan your day so that you know when you’ll eat. And whenever possible, eat in peace instead of in a rush in a car or over a sink.
- Choose exercise every day. This is going to look different for each person, but exercising daily is a major energy and mood boost. Stick to something you really enjoy or experiment with new activities. Just keep going.
- Do something at least once a week that you love—and commit to it. I attend at least one yoga class a week outside of my home. My husband watches the kids, and when I come back from class, I am a more patient, present mama. For you, it could also be a yoga class, or maybe it’s an art class, a walk outdoors, or a swim. Select something you know you can commit to every week and add it to your calendar. Keep this sacred mind and body time just for you.
What do these self-care practices have in common? They can all increase your chances of feeling amazing every day. Self-care isn’t a one-time thing. It’s meant to be practiced in every season, all year long. And when you feel your best, everyone benefits.
I am a mom like you. And I keep prioritizing self-care. You know why? Because I’m worth it. And you are, too.
It’s not too late to make a change. Your wellness is the most valuable thing in your life. Cherish it by prioritizing your self-care. Every little yes to your wellness is a yes to feeling amazing—not just today, but for the rest of your life.
QUESTION: From the above list of five ways to feel amazing, what is one thing you can realistically start today?
CHALLENGE: Try to pick one habit a day for a full month. Really commit to it—and to feeling amazing. Share what worked for you. Your story will inspire others.
Edited by Ashley Dickson and Nollie Haws.
Image provided by the author.