Too few moms make time for self-care. It was a problem before the pandemic, and now the severity of the problem is markedly worse. In a dramatic shift, many women went from working full-time in the office to working full-time at home while juggling additional responsibilities, like guiding their children through part-time or full-time virtual learning classes. Why is self care activities for mothers crucial to their wellbeing?
Colorado businesswoman and mom, Deborah Freeman, owns and manages a children’s consignment shop called Just Between Friends (JBF) and serves as a board member for the local Sky Ridge Medical Center. As if that wasn’t already enough to have on her plate, Freeman now oversees her three daughters’ online schooling. In addition to providing structure and assistance to her three daughters, ages ranging from 11 to 14, Freeman also does a great deal to care for their mental health. All three girls experience stress and anxiety thanks to missing important milestones and other challenges that arise from being out of the classroom.
With her ever-growing list of responsibilities, Freeman confesses that, for months and months, she failed to make adequate time for self-care. She is not alone. According to Good Housekeeping, as many as 78% of moms admit that ‘they put off taking care of their own health to care for family members.’
Carving out some time for self-care, however, can be an incredible boon to mental health and make us more effective parents, employees, and members of society. Destress by exploring simple self-care activities for mothers.
Write in a Journal
There is a common misconception that self-care activities for mothers — or self-care activities for anyone at all — are time-consuming. There is an even greater misconception that these activities are so time-consuming, they are selfish and take away valuable time from your family. That is simply not true. It is possible to establish a self-care routine and to do it with only 15 to 30 minutes per day to spare.
One of the best self-care activities for mothers who are crunched for time is writing in a journal. Whether you spend 15 minutes journaling about your day — it’s perfectly fine to simply write about your initial fears about going to the dentist — writing down creative ideas, recording moments of inspiration, or jotting down the things you are grateful for, journaling has notable mental health benefits. Plus, new research shows it may improve your physical health, too.
According to NBC News, several studies show that journaling can boost your immune system and help you overcome physical ailments faster.
Go On a Hike
Speaking of your physical health, an important part of any self-care routine is exercise. One of the best self-care activities for mothers is to take up hiking.
Hiking is a great activity for those who need something low impact. Low impact activities avoid putting too much strain on your bones, joints, and muscles. Hiking helps prevent injury while lowering blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, building muscle, strengthening your core, and increasing bone density just as effectively as other forms of exercise. Of course, the act of building up strength will also help reduce your risk of personal injury.
Even better, hiking takes place in the midst of nature. Spending time in nature lowers anxiety, reduces stress, and keeps depression at bay. In fact, spending 90 minutes in nature slows activity in parts of the brain that contribute to depression, a Stanford University study reveals.
For moms who want to kick it up a notch, WebMD recommends selecting slightly more challenging trails with notable inclines or hills. ‘A 5% to 10% incline equals a 30% to 40% increase in calorie burn,’ Jump Start by WebMD reports.
Another one of the best self-care activities for mothers is to read a book. This is another activity that you can accomplish in a relatively short amount of time. According to the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP), reading just 20 pages of a novel per day packs tremendous benefits, including:
- Reading boosts brain function: If you do not think that reading is worth your time, think again. In a study published in Brain Connectivity, researchers studied participants’ brain activity before reading a book, while reading, and five days later. In the study, participants showed greater brain activity while reading and ongoing neurological development five days after putting the book down.
- Books teach us empathy: Research shows that reading about others’ struggles and their path to overcome them boosts our empathy. The more empathetic we are, the better able we are to connect with other people. That means reading makes us more emotionally available to our children as well as others in our lives.
- Novels demonstrate healthy and effective coping skills: Just about all of us have felt stuck and unsure about how to proceed. Sometimes, even the most rational people feel unable to overcome challenges or do courageous things that will ultimately be best for them. That is where reading autobiographies, memoirs, and novels about recovery or personal growth come in. According to Psychology Today, reading these books validates challenging or difficult experiences, fosters connectedness, and demonstrates at least one possible path to overcoming adversity, giving readers hope for their own self-improvement. Moms struggling with depression, anxiety, or burnout, for example, can read about other mothers’ experiences navigating these things.
Do something for yourself, and do it in the 20 to 30 minutes it takes to read 20 pages per day. Reading offers many benefits, and it is one of the most accessible and important self-care activities for mothers.
For another great way to work in some quality ‘me time,’ make swimming a habit. Swim right in your backyard or head out to one of your favorite public swimming pools at least a few times per week.
Swimming is a full-body workout and a great way to lower heart disease risk, get better sleep, and boost your mood. It is suitable for all ages and skill levels, and it is even safe for expecting mothers during their second and third trimesters of pregnancy.
For self care activities for mothers that promote physical and emotional well-being, look no further than your local swimming pool.
Listen to a Riveting Podcast
Another way to unwind and to practice self care is to listen to a podcast. Listen to podcasts while walking, while taking a bath, while driving to and from work, or while making dinner.
The idea is to listen to something that will help you relax. For some, that may be a comedy podcast or a podcast featuring an interview with one of your favorite celebrities. For others, that may mean a documentary-style podcast, chronicling a murder case, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, or the moon landing. Others still may listen to podcasts that are educational and teach them about psychology, mental health, cooking and nutrition, living a healthy lifestyle, or even about being a healthy and well-adjusted mom.
Whatever the case may be, make sure you have a good pair of headphones, good audio quality in your vehicle, or appropriate home audio solutions, and take that time to focus only on your most recent podcast episode.
Take a Bath, Put on Clothes You Love, and Relax
It’s an oft-repeated refrain: mothers who are overwhelmed often begin to neglect the little things, like showering, bathing, or putting on clothes other than pajamas or sweatpants. Neglecting basic self care can take an enormous toll on mothers’ emotional well-being and limit their ability to be fully present with their children.
At a minimum, make sure that you include regularly showering in your self care activities for mothers. For moms with young babies, that may mean working around your partner’s work schedule, asking friends, family, or a neighbor to stop by to momentarily watch the baby, or putting the baby down in a bouncer and keeping him or her in the bathroom with you.
If at all possible, try to schedule activities that constitute more traditional self-care. Take a bath at the end of a long day, and take a few moments in the morning before the kids wake up or while the kids nap to put on some clothes you love. As simple as it sounds, putting on something other than sweatpants can considerably boost our mental health.
Think of other small or passive things you can do to look and feel your best. For example, things like investing in Invisalign treatment require very little effort on your part. Simply wear the clear aligners as instructed.
Do a Face Mask
Some of the simplest self care activities for mothers require very little time commitment. A quality face mask moisturizes and revitalizes your skin, leaving it feeling smooth, fresh, and baby-soft. Plus, most face masks require just five to 10 minutes of your time.
Once again, applying a face mask and removing it is something that you can do after the kids go to sleep or while they are napping during the day.
Want to replicate the results of a face lift procedure without ever leaving home? Regularly apply face masks for skin that glows and gives you confidence.
Spend Time with Friends
Did you know that fostering strong friendships can help prolong your life?
In addition to promoting longevity, friendships have many other benefits, including:
- More happiness: Those who regularly spend time with friends are happier than people who rarely socialize. Spending time with friends and self care activities for mothers can take many different forms. They may include getting coffee, going on a walk with friends, or spending time with friends while your kids play at the park.
- Happiness that is contagious: Studies show that having a friend who you would describe as happy makes you happier as well. People are happiest when they live a mile or less away from a friend or friends they consider happy.
- Reinforcing good habits: Whether you are trying to quit drinking, quit smoking, or to pick up a regular exercise habit, the right friend group can help you do it. Making friends with similar goals and priorities reinforces them. You are much more likely to stick to new, healthier behaviors if you have friends who are doing it with you.
- Boosting your immune system: Again, friends make us happy and that, in turn, reduces stress. Stress takes a physical toll on our bodies. Keeping stress to a minimum makes us physically healthier as well.
Spruce Up Your Home
For the best self care activities for mothers, think of ones that will serve you on multiple levels. For example, if you are spending more time indoors or at home than ever before, tackle self care activities that improve the look and feel of your home.
If it has always been one of your goals to redo the kitchen or the bathroom, do it now. Set aside small increments of time several times per week to look at modern bathroom vanities and to call companies and request quotes for countertop replacement.
As long as redoing the kitchen or bathroom is something that you genuinely want to do, go ahead and count it as self care. Not only are you working on something that will make you happy at the moment, but you are also investing in changes that will make your home more welcoming and comfortable for the foreseeable future.
Make a To-Do List
It may sound counterintuitive to include making to-do lists on a list of self care activities for mothers. Practically, however, to-do lists help us organize our time and energy and have the potential to take a tremendous weight off our shoulders.
Even if your to-do lists includes errands like calling concrete contractors, scheduling an oil change, or checking on a medical insurance claim, having a plan of action to tackle these things can make them seem less daunting. Similarly, crossing items off the list can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment that you may not feel if you tackle your responsibilities blindly.
Self care activities for mothers run the gamut. Think about what will truly rejuvenate you and make your day even a little bit better. Use the list above for inspiration.
- About the Author
Alex Grigoryan is a Professional Home Improvement and Lifestyle Writer. He has been in the industry for over 6 years and has been writing for Chique Home Living since 2019. His work has been featured in prestigious blogs such as Spruce Home, Better Homes & Garden, and more.