When I was a first-time new mommy, I thought I had to breastfeed in order to be a good mom. I read all the books, took all the vitamins, did everything I was supposed to in pregnancy to help create this new little life that I could not wait to meet.
So after she was born, I decided that I was going to breastfeed her no matter how hard because I felt like it was the only way to feed her and that if I didn’t do it, I would be failing her as a parent.
No one said new moms are perfect. Or old moms for that matter.
It was after a week of trying to nurse, having swollen and cracked nipples, and getting maybe 10 hours of sleep in one week, all while recovering from the first major surgery I’d ever had, that I broke down sobbing in the new-to-me pediatrician’s office.
He saw my sullen face, my skinny frame (I had lost almost all of my baby weight because I was too tired and in turn, depressed, to eat), and he took my hand while saying to me, “you need to feed her formula”.
Before you get all up in arms about how does he know what I need to do, I needed him to tell me this.
He also said that to be a good mom to Anna, I needed to take care of ME and if that meant not breastfeeding and giving her a bottle, then so be it.
I left his office that day, drove straight to the store, bought baby formula, handed it to her dad, and went to bed for seven straight hours.
I haven’t looked back since.
Self-care isn’t new and no, this generation isn’t selfish for doing so or making time to do so.
I also believe that in the age of all things social and media, self-care is more important than ever.
Imagine, before social media, having an annoying neighbor who brags about everything, sitting in your kitchen telling you
See the new car Rodney got for $50,000? Yeah, we just had money sitting in this account so we just thought WHAT THE HELL! Ooh! Did I tell you we are going to Jamaica for spring break?? OMG, I just love this president of ours don’t you? I don’t understand why they call it ADHD, we didn’t have that in our day. In our day, we just smacked kids upside the head, it’s called D I S C I P L I N E.
Then they follow you to the living room and proceed to tell you
Did you see this wart on the bottom of my foot? The doctor wants to lance it but he thinks it might have gangrene so I’m not sure what to do but I will let you know what he says. Oh did I tell you we got a free trip to Disney World simply for being at the right time in the right place?? I don’t know how we are gonna get away because we are JUST SO BUSY!
Finally, they follow you to the garage and mention
I’ve been meaning to ask, is your friend gay? Not that it matters to me but is she? Because my other neighbor was asking and I think she is against that NOT THAT I’M AGAINST THAT. Which reminds me, do you and your husband still, you know? Do it? Because I just don’t think I am having as much sex as I would like to. OH did I show you this funny cartoon I cut out of the paper, it’s about women’s rights, HAHA, like that’s a real
NOW do you see why we need self-care more than ever?
Here are a couple of my go-to’s when I need some time for me.
OMG just hearing the word makes me feel 30% more relaxed. Even though my massage therapist is inexpensive compared to the average in my area, I still can’t afford to do it monthly but there are ways you can get a massage on the cheap.
Groupon has deals for spas and massage therapists all of the time. If you aren’t picky about a massage therapist, this is a good place to look. Also if you use Ebates (and if you haven’t, you need to). you get an additional % of that savings in your wallet. So let’s say the deal is $40 for a one-hour massage, you get 6% of that $40. And that is just for Groupon, the percentages can go as high as 15% at some websites, which is huge. Ebates and Groupon will be your best friends during the holidays. So sign up for Ebates here!
If you have a regular massage therapist, you most likely will find that once you develop a relationship, the therapist will offer you deals. For example, mine will occasionally give me free essential oil blends she knows that will help me or around the holidays, she sometimes offers buy one get one or 50% off.
Or do it yourself at home for cheap. This would require your significant other to do this in return, so good luck with that. Prolly cheaper and easier to get one at a spa.
The simple act of pinning things I will never possibly have time to do or places I may never travel to or even passive-aggressive quotes aimed towards people who are completely unaware that they are aimed toward them is one of THE most healing things ever.
Maybe not healing but definitely healthier than actually dropping money on a project you have no business doing or actually buying a plane ticket with money you have no business spending or actually smacking a person who is pissing you off in the face.
See? I am saving you money AND a visit to jail.
Clearing the Mechanism
I first heard the term clearing the mechanism from the movie For the Love of the Game starring Kevin Costner.
His method for clearing his mechanism (sounds so dirty) was to block out the crowds in the stands (he was a pitcher for a major league team), so he could hyperfocus on the task at hand.
But I like to use this term to refer to the getting rid of all the junk in my head.
Therapy is a big clearing of my mechanism now but for many years, I didn’t have therapy and I did (and still do) the following instead:
Listen to the waves of the Gulf of Mexico via Destin Beach Cams Facebook page while I am working from home.
Watching mindless television which includes no news or thinking whatsoever. Some of my favorites: Real Housewives (New York, New Jersey, and Beverly Hills are my favorites); Beverly Hills 90210; Food Network- my favorites are Trisha Yearwood, The Pioneer Woman, Barefoot Contessa, and Valerie Bertinelli; House Hunters on HGTV.
Laying in bed, playing Song Pop on my iPad with my dog snuggling against me, all while under a cozy blanket.
Listening to my favorite music on either Apple Music (monthly fee) or Pandora (free). There is something really therapeutic about creating playlists of your favorite music.
Social Media Break
Like we talked about before, social media takes a huge toll on everyone. I make my living off of social media and I can even say that I would like to see it go away for good. You have no idea how many days a week I dream of selling everything we own, uprooting my family, leaving social media and moving to a tropical island.
Until then, I take social media “breaks” so I don’t commit a crime. What that looks like has become Social Media Free Sunday. Recently, I have given up social media on Sundays and I don’t really miss it. It could be any day of the week for you but since I make my living writing shit on Facebook for other websites, I can’t take off Monday through Friday. So on Sunday it is!
What do I do instead? I go to church, lingering longer there than before, talking to people and actually enjoying their company. I enjoy long lunches with family and talk about our week without documenting it for anyone including myself. I write in my diary and catch up from the week of not really being present all of the time; I cook a meal from scratch from a recipe I found on Pinterest (this is the only time I cheat as I keep most of my recipes stored there); I go to the store and take my time. I lay on the couch and watch a tv show or movie with my little family. You get the idea. I get to relive the life I had ten years ago, pre-social media and let me tell you, it is nice.
One more tip if you’re not ready to take a day off here and there: the unfollow/mute option on Facebook and Twitter is a beautiful thing.
Not ready to unfollow someone completely? The snooze function on Facebook is AMAZING. It snoozes people (unbeknownst to them) for up to 30 days, then automatically plops them back into your feed again when the snooze is up.
Try it. You’ll like it.
It’s amazing what a lunch out with a friend or breakfast with one of your kids alone can do for the psyche.
I’ve had lunches with friends and family where I am laughing to the point of crying at the table and I’ve had lunches where I am actually crying. What is it about breaking bread with someone either in your home or publicly that is so amazingly therapeutic?
Six weeks ago, Ella and I started going to breakfast every Saturday morning after horse riding lessons (Ella’s way of clearing her mechanism) and it has been the one thing I look forward to all week and she as well (well AFTER horses, because if we are being real, horses is what she looks forward to most).
In fact, she now asks to do it every Saturday whether we have horses or not. We talk about lessons, the week ahead (or behind us), about what we will order, the weather, who she sits with at lunch at school and who she plays with on the playground, you name it. Oh sure, we talk about these things in the car and at home too, but there is just something about chatting in a restaurant that makes things, I don’t know, just better. And there are usually pancakes and pancakes just make conversation a little better, don’t they?
Life isn’t always easy and it is stuff like that this makes each week a little more bearable.
I have said it so many times but it is so true for me, writing is such good therapy and I bet it is for a lot more of you out there who feel the same way as well.
Why do you think they say journaling your thoughts is good for you? Getting ugly and beautiful thoughts out of the brain and onto paper (or in my case, a computer screen) just makes the brain feel a little bit lighter.
But creating is more than just writing, my friend Rebecca loves drawing and doing so brings her a lot of comfort and happiness.
Ella is the same with art and drawing; when she has a bad day at school, she will draw her day out to make her feel better. I LOVE THAT.
My mom loves to cook in the kitchen even when she isn’t having company, so one could say that is her therapy as well.
My dad loves to do woodworking, painting, DIY of any kind (wish his skills rubbed off on me a little more) and doing so has always been a sort of therapy for him too.
Recently, I have been wanting to take a class on hand lettering because I would love to make graphics by hand for my home, improve my terrible handwriting when I hand write letters, cards, etc.. but there isn’t a class close to where I live.
So I researched it online and plan to teach myself over winter when life is a little harder for me because of WINTER.
There are also some great ideas for doodling and bullet journals on Pinterest as well which are great for stress, anxiety, depression or even just having a shitty week and needing to do something other than read the news (which is never good any more) or scroll your Instagram feed and see how everyone is doing something except for you (they aren’t, by the way).
I also love to create nonsensical graphics with swear words on them. It may be offensive to some but for me, that is the equivalent of screaming into a pillow.
I am going to be creating a tutorial at some point so you too can do fun things like this because ice cream can’t heal you like a picture of a mountain stream and a speech bubble that says FUCK OFF, HAROLD.
Don’t know how to cook but want to learn? Yummly has an amazing YouTube channel with easy to watch (and learn) recipes. I love videos that show you exactly what you need to do to make recipes set to fun music. In fact, Ella even watches them as they are oddly satisfying (they really are).
Requiring self-care doesn’t always mean you have stuff going on inside your head, like I do with anxiety, but rather sometimes you just need a release.
All of the above are things that give me release and make each week less of a climb up a mountain. I hope that this post gives you some ideas so you can feel good too and know you are never alone.
What do YOU do for release?