This week’s health tips are pretty special. They come from Amy Taylor-Kabbaz over at Seek Act Love who is answering her calling to boost Mother’s (especially new mother’s) spirits! A pretty amazing thing to do. Just by reading through Amy’s words you will see how bright her soul is.
I’m a mother of two girls aged 3 and 5, a journalist and writer, soon to be pregnancy and ante-natal yoga instructor, and creator of the website for Mums www.seekactlove.com
Let me say from the outset that I am not a foodie – never have been, quite possibly never will be. I like to cook for my family and friends, but like even more to stand next to the cook with a glass of wine and entertain them. I am, however, fantastic at cleaning up, and will always, always do the dishes and wipe the benchtop to an inch of its life.
So that means, when the gorgeous Nicola asked me to write my Top Ten Health Tips, I was a little nervous. I can’t contribute nutrition tips or recipes. I can’t comment on organic versus not. I do eat a super healthy diet, but to be totally honest that is mostly because of my Mum and my sister. My Mum started me off in life wanting and liking the right foods (something I am desperately trying to do with my own girls), and my sister is now a trained Health Coach and my own personal guru. Anything I ever need to know, I ask her (she often gets frantic phone calls from the supermarket aisles.)
Instead, my passion and focus in life is mental health and wellbeing. This is my area of expertise, so to speak. I have been studying, writing and reading about self-development, wellbeing and how to live your best life since I was a messed-up teenager, and have gathered some pretty committed lifestyle choices along the way. Since becoming a Mum five years ago and being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease a few months later, my dedication to self-care has become even more important.
Basically, for me, it’s all about doing a series of little things for myself throughout my day to ensure I look after myself. I know when I do that I am a more balanced, healthy and happy person, and I can be a better Mum, sister, daughter, wife and friend.
So, with that in mind, here are my Top Ten Tips for self-care and wellbeing as a Mum.
1. Start your day with a good thought.
“Bloody hell – is that the baby again?” How often do we start the day like that? Too often! When you are a Mum and perpetually tired, being woken (again, and again) before your body is ready is one of the most challenging parts of this blessed journey. But unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about it – except look at it another way. As Louise Hay says, “How we start our day, is how we live our day. And how we live our day, is how we live our lives.”
I’m not saying you have to think “oh yippee!! She’s crying again!”, but how about giving yourself some love and support before you get out of bed? Try something like “You are doing such an amazing job.” Or simply “This too will pass.” And then repeat it while feeding the baby/cuddling the toddler/changing the bedsheets. We so need to be kind to ourselves, and by changing the very first thought of the day, everything will flow better throughout the day.
2. Hot water and lemon.
This is a very common tip for women, but I have to say it is one that I am almost religious about. My body loves this routine, and the difference it makes to my digestion, energy levels, skin, hydration… everything! Hot water and lemon boasts your immune system, balances your body’s PH levels, aids digestion, clears your skin, and flushes out your lymph system. But I love it for more than just that – I love it because it makes me focus on my wellbeing first thing in the morning. Try not to just throw down the drink without thinking about it. Stop, take a moment to taste it, and remind yourself this is doing wonders for your body. Similar to the first thought of the day, if the first thing you put into your body is a healthy choice, you will be kinder to yourself throughout the day.
3. Skin brushing.
Another must for me. Even at 3.30am when I have to wake to go to my job with ABC Breakfast radio, I dry skin brush. It only takes a couple of minutes, but it really wakes me up and feels like I have, once again, done something for me already. Especially if I really focus on loving thoughts about my body whilst doing it. Plus, it makes my skin sing in the shower, helps with lumps and bumps, and evens out the fake tan too! What more could you ask for?
4. The shower intention.
As you can probably tell by now, I am ALL about your thoughts. For me, watching my thoughts and being kind to myself is the single biggest contributing factor to my wellbeing and happiness – and therefore my family’s. If I am not mindful of my thoughts, they will race between a mad to-do list, budgets, article suggestions, worries about my girls, and freaking out about lunch box ideas. So I have found one of the best things I can do to keep my thoughts on track is use my time in the shower as a meditation on the coming day. I literally let the water wash over me while I say “I wash away all stress and worry from my body”. I then choose an affirmation to focus on. I have an affirmation app on my phone which I check before I jump into the shower to give me inspiration.
Music changes everything. Someone once told me that I need more music in my life, and to never worry what others think of my choice in songs that speak to my soul. Well, as my husband can attest, I have totally embraced that advice! I have a rocking playlist that my girls and I listen to all the time – in the car, while cooking dinner, on Friday night discos in our loungeroom. We play it loud, we sing to it, we use it to reconnect. I even have videos of them bouncing to Mary J Blige in the Jolly Jumper. Putting on a powerful song (or anything on the 80s digital radio channel!) totally changes my mood and brings me back to a place where I can see things properly again. My advice would be – find your song, and play it loud.
6. Be in the moment.
This is my daily challenge. With a full-time job, a writing career on the side, and two little ones, I am constantly trying to do seven things at once. Turning my phone off, not checking emails or social media, or not folding washing while cooking dinner and supervising play-doh fights, is something I struggle with everyday. I have found the best way for my to do this is to use all of my senses to help me stay in the present moment. Take a big deep breath and smell the food as I cut it; really look into my child’s eyes as they talk to me; smell my girls’ hair as I read them their bedtime story. Engage all of your senses, and it helps you block out all the other distractions.
7. Turn the TV off.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to sound like an anti-TV person, because the minute ‘Offspring’ comes back on, you will find me parked directly in front of that box! But, I truly feel that so much of our time is sucked up by mindless TV, and if we only used that time better, we could be so much happier and more content with our lives. I just don’t agree with unwinding at the end of the day by turning the TV on and then finding something to watch. Even if it’s crap. I have one or two programs that I will either watch or record for later – and that is it. If there’s nothing on I really like, I turn it off. With so much of my time taken with children, housework, paid work, unpaid work… everything!… my down time is so important to me, I want to make the most of it. That means reading books, magazines or other blogs, writing in my journal, or just going to bed early for some rest, and saving the TV for a Friday night movie and cuddle with my hubby.
8. Get out of the house.
My first-born daughter didn’t sleep during the day. She had massive breastfeeding issues due to a problem with the muscles in her neck at birth, and only ever managed a 40 minute nap every couple of hours. And, as anyone who has had a catnapping child who didn’t feed will agree, the days can stretch on FOREVER. And so, the only way I got through those days, was to walk. I learnt that my mind, my attitude and my physical wellbeing was instantly lifted the minute I got moving. It didn’t matter if I walked for 5 minutes or 50, it was the act of getting out of the house – and out of my head – and taking big deep breathes, that would change everything. Ever since then, I have found that the simple act of changing locations – taking the little ones to the park, the café, a friends’ house – is a guaranteed way to improve my wellbeing.
9. Surround yourself with supportive people.
I have come to the stage in my life where I’m wanting to only surround myself with the people who support me. The real me. This has been a big revelation. As an extremely loyal person, and someone who will remain friends based more on the number of years than the number of times someone has been there for me, my wellbeing has been significantly improved since I decided to say no to certain people in my life, and begin to let some situations go. It has been liberating. I have also begun surrounding myself with the right doctors and health professionals too. It has taken me a long time, but I now have an amazing GP who I thoroughly trust, a specialist who understands my body, and mentors who guide me in the right direction in my life. Having people who have my highest good in mind has also helped me see those who do not support me more clearly, and has made it easier to break those ties.
10. Congratulate yourself at the end of the day.
If I could go back and talk to myself just weeks after my first child was born, this would be my message – celebrate what you have achieved at the end of everyday. So often, at the end of an exhausting and frustrating day, we fall into bed thinking about the things that went wrong, didn’t get done, or still have to be done. But seriously, the very act of mothering is worth celebrating, and no matter what else you have done that day – you did that! You loved, nourished, educated and nurtured the little people in your life, and you did the very best job you could do… and that is freaking amazing! Now, I try to do a little check list at the end of the day – what am I proud of today? What am I grateful for? And hopefully, if I am still awake long enough, I finish my day by telling myself – You’re doing an amazing job.
Wasn’t that just gorgeous! Let me know what your favourite tips were and what really resonated with you.
Don’t forget to pop over to Amy’s site and say hi!