We hear all the time that in order in to care for others, we have to first take care of ourselves. That is most definitely true, especially when the others we’re caring for are tiny humans who are fully dependent on us, consume our days and let’s be honest – are emotionally draining at times.
With the buzz of New Year’s resolutions still filling the air, it seems like a good time to take a step back from all those goals and good intentions to really focus on the core of what it takes to be successful in achieving them. At the core is a healthy head space.
The first step in taking care of ourselves, our children, and in activating worthwhile change in our lives is to have a healthy head space. What I’m talking about specifically is how we speak to ourselves, how we calm a brain that won’t shut down and the ways we celebrate the good things.
For parents, we know carving out time for ourselves can be a challenge. So, here are some relatively quick ways to nurture your mind every single day and create a healthy foundation for everything else in your life.
When we repeatedly say positive things to and about ourselves out loud, they become our reality. You can choose just one affirmation or run through a list of several. If you’re feeling unsure about a certain area of your life, for example, your parenting skills, your affirmation could be “I am a great mom, doing the very best with the skills I have.”
Affirmations should be said in the present tense, “I am” rather than “I will be” makes the statement hold truth in the moment and feel more attainable. I recommend starting your day with affirmations in front of a mirror. Speaking face to face with yourself adds a whole extra layer of power. Examples of affirmations for parents are:
- I trust my instincts
- I am growing and learning everyday, just like my baby
- I do not compare myself to other parents
- I lead through love and patience
It used to be that the only time I would say what I was grateful for outloud was when each member of my family would share before we could eat our Thanksgiving meal. It felt awkward and forced but at some point I had a mental shift and it felt so great to share what I was genuinely grateful for that it became a daily practice.
Acknowledging what you’re grateful for on a daily basis gives power to the positive and takes energy away from negative things. I still like to share these thoughts at dinner time, but voicing gratitude before bed is a good way to end your day as well. As with affirmations – say them out loud. Even if you’re alone, let them be heard. Examples of gratitude are:
- I am grateful for my body that birthed my baby
- I am grateful for my healthy baby
- I am grateful for everyone in my life who loves me
- I am grateful to be in the journey of motherhood
As a parent, it can be so easy to get pulled down by things we don’t have much control over. Your baby cried for a half-hour straight, the laundry piles are multiplying faster than rabbits, your toddler threw a tantrum at the store, you feel like you’ve been nursing around the clock, etc.
It’s a lot. But, you can flip the switch to decide what gets more of your attention – the wins, or the perceived losses. Making a list of your daily wins is a really easy way to say, “wow – look what I accomplished today!” instead of feeling absolutely defeated when you finally crawl into bed.
You can keep a list on your phone, use post-it notes or a journal, or place a white board in a prominent place in your home. Whatever is most convenient for you, the hard part may be remembering to write them down throughout the day. If that’s the case, do a brain dump when you have down time or before bed to really celebrate all those little wins. Examples of daily wins are:
- I kept a tiny human alive today
- I took a shower
- I learned a new way to soothe my baby
- I connected with another new parent
Positive affirmations, verbalizing gratitude and celebrating your daily wins are all different ways to create a healthy head space. If you choose just one of those methods and practice it at the same time everyday, the more likely it is to become part of your daily routine. But they can just as easily be done on the fly – while you’re driving, during nap time, while eating or nursing, in the bathroom…you get the point.
Do you have other practices you use to create a healthy head space? If so, please comment – I’d love to learn about them!