The mental load is making mums exhausted – here are 5 easy ways to look after yourself
Ever heard the expression "you can't pour from an empty cup?"
Well, it's true.
Life is busy, and even busier if you are a mum – as we all know. Not only do many of us also have jobs outside of the home and outside of being a mum, but we are also, for the absolute most part, the main keeper of what is known as the 'mental load' when it comes to family life.
What is the mental load, I hear you ask – because although you are no doubt in the possession of one, you might not have heard the expression just yet.
The mental load is everything we have to keep in our head at all times – a task that often fall on women. I am talking schedules and to-do lists, and dentist appointments and Christmas cards and when was that bake sale again and did we remember to pay the voluntary contribution the school was looking for and Molly needs a size up in her ballet shoes and did the deposit for the summer holiday get paid? Everything that has to be remembered and ticked off and kept organized when it comes to family life – keeping all the balls in the air at all times.
And it's exhausting.
Which is why no-one deserves a little self-care more than mums. No-one. And yes, we know you are busy, but guys, overlooking our physical and mental health in order to get everything done can really come back and bite us. And while few of can afford the money and time to take off on a spa break or book a week somewhere far flung, there are lots of little things we can all do to refuel our energy and refresh our minds.
Sometimes even the smallest of self-care acts can have a huge impact on how we feel, and it that is you today, mama, if you are feeling a little overwhelmed right now, do try one (or all) of the following:
1. Lock the bathroom door and have a spa afternoon
Engange the kids with something, send them out with your hubby, drop them off at granny's – the point is; just take some time where you can just focus on yourself and not have to worry about having to jump to attention should someone scream you name.
Fill the bathtub, dig out your loofa or a body scrub, put bath salts in the water and put on (DIY one if you must) a face mask. Light some candles, bring a book, stream a relaxing play list; whatever it is that makes you feel like you are checking out from the world a little and in with yourself.
The thing is; self care isn't selfish – it is actually one of the most important things you can do for yourself in order to function in every other aspect of your life as well. Also, modelling how important it is too look after yourself is also important to your children, who are growing up in a world that is more and more hectic and demanding.
2. Visit and garden centre and pick up some plants
Plants are everywhere these days – as in; everyone is obsessed with filling their homes with greenery – and for good reason. The obvious reason being that they are great for decor –and they truly are. Plants will instantly make you house feel more like a home – but did you know they are also really good for your health?
It's true. Plants are, in fact, a powerhouse of wellness for your home, and will actually provide you with a host of benefits – the most important one being that thy purify the air in your home. Most of us know that plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen; and the plants in your home are no exception. And because oxygen affects every part of your body and mind, making sure you get quality air is essential to your well-being.
As well as better air quality, plants, believe it or not, have also been found to lower blood pressure, improve reaction time, improve wellbeing, raise satisfaction and lower anxiety.
3. Contact an old friend
When you have kids of a certain age, trying to get out to meet your own friends can seem as logistically taxing as planning a wedding. But guys, friendships are important, at any age of our lives, and the reality is that the busier we are, the longer down on our to-do list things like meeting up with friends fall.
But talking to people we care about and that care about us can have a hugely positve impact on our happiness and wellbeing, so try to reach out – you won't regret it. Organize a glass of wine out at that new wine bar you have been dying to try, set up a bookclub where you meet up at least once a forthnight, go to the gym with a friend or even arrange to go into work early, so that you can have a coffee outing with your favourite co-worker before you work-day starts.
4. Go for a walk with your earbuds in
Brisk walking is a great and gentle form of exercise we should all do more of. Not only does the walking instead of running bit ensure that we get time to listen to music or a podcast or whatever, it also feels like you are being a little gentler on yourself, while still getting both the exercise and fresh air you need.
If you need a proper pick-me-up, play a song that really makes you feel empowered and re-charged, you'll find it is amazing the effect music can have on your mood and energy.
5. Diffuse some essential oils
Essential oils are having a moment right now, and for good reason. Pure essential oils have been proven to help with anything from anxiety and depression to migraines and stress. As well as this, the active chemicals within essential oils are well studied, and their effects well documented. Many are known for being antibiotic, antiseptic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and have antiviral properties.
Essential oils do their most powerful work transdermally—when you put them on skin, they’re absorbed into the bloodstream in varying degrees – but remember to use a carrier oil to dillute the oils before you put them on your skin. Experts warn you should always read instructions carefully to understand whether the oil is meant to be put on skin, or inhaled only.
One option which has become very popular of late is to diffuse the oil using an oil diffuser. Using one of these, you simply add a few drops of the oil you prefer (for instance, lavender is great for relaxation, while the likes of grapefruit oil is brilliant if you want to feel more uplifted and have more energy) with some water to your diffuser, switch on and voila; the oils will set to work.