As a working at home mom, I quickly discovered how fast my well can deplete when I’m trying to be mommy, cancer registrar, writer, wife, and friend to my family, coworkers, and friends. Sleep deprivation, constant interruptions, and never having a moment to yourself to recharge can hasten the crash and burn at mach speed.
As I struggled through postpartum depression, I knew I had to get my well filled. And I discovered that it’s not just one well, but three: mind, body, and spirit. It’s not enough to only pay attention to one area and hope for the trickle down effect. All are equally important and require their own devotion.
Mediation. For me, mediation gives me the quiet moment to not think about what I’m going to feed my daughter for dinner, how to solve the database glitch at work, or how to fix a plot point in a story I’m working on. I’ve found I don’t need to sit quietly on a cushion and repeat “om” over and over. I can do a quick mediation by snuggling next to my daughter on the recliner while she watches her PBS Kids show. Counting heart beats up to 100, repeating a positive affirmation for a minute, or focusing on the breath for ten cycles are great, quick, mediation tools to help bring a little calm to the chaotic life of motherhood.
Learning. In addition to mediation, I need to exercise my mind. Take a class, read a book, watch a documentary, or attend a lecture. Learning doesn’t have to stop now that you’re an adult and a mother. In this day and age there are so many online resources and webinars covering all kinds of topics, not to mention the abundance of podcasts that range from five minutes to an hour to meet your needs. Commit to taking a little time each day, or maybe one hour a week, to learning.
Brain dump. Write or type it, but get it off your mind. Almost every night before I fall asleep, I write down what I want or need to do the next day and then I don’t worry about whatever it was while I’m trying to relax. Journaling is also a great way to brain dump. I don’t journal as much as I used or would like, but I do try once or twice a week, mostly at night or first thing in the morning.
Nutrition. To replenish physical energy, you need to eat right. Fill your body with the nutrients it needs. Plant-based diets have shown to produce much more energy. It’s pretty simple. Junk in, junk out. You are what you eat, so honor your body and feed it the food it deserves. Stock your refrigerator with live fresh foods that you can quickly grab for a snack or throw in your blender for an energizing smoothie.
Rest. I know, I know. Rest and motherhood is such an oxymoron. But it’s important. Rest allows your body to recharge and mind to process all the input from the previous day. The biggest culprit for my depression struggle was sleep. When I had insomnia, depression followed right afterward. So now, I turn off my cell phone ringer after 7 p.m. and resist the urge to clean the house while my daughter naps and take one with her on the weekend.
Movement. Our bodies were meant to move. Anytime I find myself wanting to just veg on the couch and eat a bag of cookies, or when I need some serious motivation to tackle a chore or project, I put on some music and dance my butt off for about 5-10 minutes. Boom! Sometimes I will do squats or pushups. Other times I go for a quick 15 minute run around the block. Regardless of how I choose to move my body, my productivity increases every time.
Touch. I wrote about this one previously. Humans need touch. So let your loved one hug you, and hold your partner’s hand. For me it’s massage. My body needs it. As I’m preparing to go back to school and complete my bachelor’s degree, I’ve scheduled monthly appointments for massage and acupuncture. These two modalities are as important to my health as going for regular check-ups.
Music. Music is the voice of the spirit. Take time to listen to your favorite tunes every day, but also make your own music. Every day I sing with my daughter. She also wants me to sing to her every night. I love it, and it overflows my well. I also love drumming with her on the bongos. Music sparks creativity.
Creativity. Humans were meant to create. We all do it, even if you don’t consider yourself a creative person. If you don’t have a creative outlet, find one. For me it’s writing. If I don’t write I lose my mind, but I also like to crochet. I work on one project every year, and I make time for my creative hobbies every week.
Social. Motherhood can be quite lonely. It changes your relationships. Just because you’re a mom, doesn’t mean you need to avoid getting out. If your old friends can’t adjust to the new chapter in your life it’s time to ditch them and look for the people who bring joy to your heart. Life is too short to waste on drama and loneliness.