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Self-Care in Small Degrees: Finding Even a Little Time for You

woman making heart with hands
Self-Care. It’s currently a hot topic, especially among mothers, and for good reason. When we become a parent, a massive shift happens literally overnight when we introduce this tiny person who doesn’t care about our desire to binge watch Netflix or head out for dinner at 8:00pm. There’s a reason a blog post or meme about how hard motherhood is goes viral nearly every week; it is harder than any of us ever thought. 
 

2016 was a blissfully chaotic year for our family.

We had a baby and adopted a two-year-old. Couple that with the baby’s unexpected health issues and my husband’s long work hours, and you’ve got a recipe for one maxed out mama. It was then that I really considered the concept of self-care. At first, I tried to add in more nights out with the girls or treating myself to some ice cream. However, I found that when those moments ended, I crashed right back into my stressful life. So, I did what any person would do: I dreamed bigger! I wanted BIG, drastic changes, like a week-long vacation by myself or a live-in nanny. That would solve my problems! 
 
Around that time, I ran across Dr John Trent’s concept of 2 degree changes. Essentially, he argues that although we are attracted to the idea of a 180 degree turn around, most of the time what we really need are small, 1-2 degree changes. We don’t need to overhaul our entire lives; we just need to make small course corrections. I love this because it’s doable. I examined my life and brainstormed ideas for small ways to decrease the stress.

 

Small changes that made a big impact on my life.

Utilize small moments. 

Quick: you’ve got two minutes when every child is occupied and no one is touching you. What do you do? Reach for your phone? Right? WRONG. That’s my usual go-to. But don’t write off a few minutes as just a few minutes. Use that time wisely. Do a breathing exercise, stretch, list five things you are thankful for, light a candle, or pick out the next book you want to read. 

Make your everyday tasks more enjoyable. 

We all have chores around the house. Why not make them better?  Make a playlist of favorite songs for cooking music. Pop in a podcast while you’re cleaning the bathrooms. Brainstorm ways to improve your laundry situation. Sometimes, when life gets hard, we get stuck thinking that’s all it can be. Take some time to reconsider the tasks you must do every day.   

Tackle a project you’ve been putting off.

Clean out that drawer. Call and schedule a doctor’s appointment. Clear out your email inbox. Clean that spot that drives you nuts. It feels good to finally complete something that you’ve stared at day after day! What’s more, it often motivates you to keep the ball rolling!

Identify your most stressful parts of the day. 

What can you do to improve those times? For me, morning and evening routines make life easier and help carve out time for self-care. For instance, I like to clean out my kitchen sink and clean off my countertops before bed. That way, I wake up to a clean-ish kitchen. Or maybe dinner is stressing you out? Remember, a little planning can go a long way! Setting your clothes out the night before, prepping dinner while you clean up breakfast, or having an afternoon snack planned can be easy steps to a less hectic day! 

Do something for someone else.

I can hear you thinking, “don’t I already do something for someone else ALL THE TIME?? That’s why I’m so stressed out!” But studies show that when we focus on others’ needs, we actually bring happiness to ourselves. Write a card to your grandma, bring a meal to your friend, or drop off an unexpected gift to a neighbor. Their joy will bring you joy! 

Flex your creativity muscle. 

There are so many ways to be creative! It is rewarding to create, with your hands or your mind. Spray paint something gold, rearrange your furniture, or write a haiku. Oftentimes, the end result does not matter as much as the opportunity to practice creativity. 

SLEEP! 

Get some sleep, please! Lack of sleep makes everything worse. It may be that for certain periods of your life. you need to go to bed at the same time as your kids. Trade sleeping in mornings with your partner. Sneak in a nap while the kids watch a movie. Make sleep a priority! 

Get help. 

Don’t be afraid to speak up when you are overwhelmed. Reach out to a friend, pastor, or counselor when finding breathing room in your life is too difficult. Consider hiring a babysitter for the morning. Invite a life-giving friend over for a playdate. Please don’t go it alone! We were meant to live life together. 
 
A combination of these practices helped me get back to a mentally and emotionally healthy place. I continue to refer to these practices to keep my life on a balanced course. I hope you’ve been inspired to make small, 1-2 degree changes in your life as a key part of self-care. And I’d love to hear what small course corrections work for you! 

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One Response to Self-Care in Small Degrees: Finding Even a Little Time for You

  1. Adrienne Ferrell July 12, 2018 at 9:06 am #

    This is excellent, Beth!

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