Hey Momma! How are you lately? Are you tired, worn out, and feeling pretty drained? Or are you happy, healthy and full of energy?
Being a mother is incredibly hard work and requires becoming a pro at taking care of people. But, if you are like me, then while you do a great job taking care of everyone else in your family you struggle with making sure that your own needs are met.
This lack of self-care leaves you feeling empty as you fill your days filling others up. You need to know that you matter too and having your needs met is just as important to your health and happiness as taking care of everyone else in your home. Here are 6 Self-Care Strategies for new moms that will help you to regain health and fitness in the areas that often go neglected in the busy days of motherhood:
RENEW - Spend 10-30 minutes each morning of quiet time dedicated to renewing your mind. Whether it be in meditation, prayer, reading Scripture or another enjoyable book, or simply breathing in the fresh morning air while sipping a hot cup of coffee, taking this short amount of time for yourself in the mornings will help to prepare your mind for the busy day ahead leading to less overwhelm. If you are sleeping until your baby wakes you up, you can get this quiet time in while feeding your baby. Just make sure you take some time to get your mindset right at the beginning of each day.
REFUEL - When you wake up in the morning, it is vital that you provide yourself with the fuel you need to attack your day with energy and awareness. This means nutrients and calories and not just a caffeine boost. This is especially important when recovering from childbirth and while breastfeeding. Without consuming enough calories and nutrients, you won't be able to produce the milk you need for your baby or give your body what it needs to heal properly. You also need to refuel throughout the day with healthy meals in order to maintain blood sugar and energy levels so you can manage life's tasks and accomplish your day's goals. Forgetting to feed yourself or not getting ample calories or nutrients is a surefire way to experience a crash, leaving you exhausted and cranky. When you feed your family, choose healthy well-balanced meals and snacks to feed yourself as well. Have healthy nutrient-packed snacks and easy meal options on hand so that during those early weeks you aren't feeling overwhelmed trying to prepare meals with a newborn in your arms. Join our closed group for nutrition tips and meal ideas!
REBUILD - Whether you just recently had your baby, are coming back following an injury, or simply want to improve in some area of current fitness, it is important that you approach your goals with a strong foundation and a step by step plan. In order to do this we need to establish good habits, and proper technique as well as taking an inside-out focus. This means working on rebuilding our foundation first in a way that sets us up for success instead of injury. A strong inner core is vital to every other fitness goal. A focus on rebuilding our bodies instead of losing weight will help encourage a positive change fueled by self-love and good self-care, rather than believing something is wrong with our bodies and tearing ourselves down.
RECOVER - After 9 months of growing another human, followed by giving birth and then weeks (or months) of sleepless nights, and constantly caring for a tiny human, your body and mind need a lot of time and care to recover. It is also important to realize that the changes you went through during pregnancy put a lot of strain on your tissues and may have changed your body mechanics as well. Things like breathing and posture have likely changed and will need addressing, as well as the mind-body connection required to ensure that your core is functioning properly in order to stabilize your spine and pelvis. Muscles that have been stretched out need time to recover and joints and ligaments that have become overly tense or tight, will need some care as well. Proper breathing, stretching, recognizing when our bodies are out of alignment and working to correct our imbalances are a very important part of recovery. When we get back into exercising again, implementing proper recovery between workouts is also a vital part of our overall health. Make sure you focus on things like bracing before lifting, using good posture and doing a cool down with some stretching at the end of workout sessions.
REST - I know we have all heard it more times than we care to, but I am going to say it again anyway; "sleep when your baby sleeps." Getting enough sleep is difficult enough as an adult with a busy schedule but becomes even more challenging when you throw a newborn into the mix. Not getting enough rest will cause you to not only lack the energy you need to carry out your normal daily activities but will definitely zap any motivation you might otherwise have to exercise. A lack of sleep will also add to your already stressful days and mess with your hormones and emotional health. If you didn't get enough sleep or simply feel worn down, you need to listen to and honor your body and get some rest, even if it means skipping the workout you had planned. Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep a night, and until you are able to get that, try getting in a nap (even if it is a short one) during the day while your little one is sleeping.
RELATE - This one is so so important! With all the demands that becoming a new mom (or a new mom again) places on you, it is really vital that you don't try to go it alone. Say "yes" when help is offered and reach out and connect with other moms when you can. Being needed constantly by your baby is draining and the days fly by sometimes with us feeling like we got absolutely nothing done. This combination of going non-stop while feeling completely unaccomplished in a day, mixed with postpartum hormones can lead to feelings of depression. Also, being with a newborn all day and not having any adult conversation can leave you feeling even more exhausted and lonely. You are not alone and there are so many moms out there who have been there, or who are there now that you can reach out and connect with. Make taking time for your mental and emotional health a priority by connecting with friends or finding other moms to workout and share your journey with. If you are unable to get out of the house as often as you would like to, then join a community of like-minded moms online, like our M.E. Fit Moms community. You can post questions, share recipes, do a workout together or just vent about how hard being a new mom can be.
You have one of the most important jobs there is now that you have become a new mom. But while you have so many tasks to take care of each day and a very little person who relies on you for their every need, make sure that your needs are being met too. When you are healthy and strong you are much better equipped to care for your family.
Do you have any self-care strategies that helped you regain your health and fitness after becoming a mom? Join the conversation and share what has worked for you here.