New mums may struggle with self-care, leading to burnout and disconnection from their partners. To maintain mental health and wellbeing, prioritise sleep, eat well, exercise, spend time outdoors, pursue meaningful activities, stay connected with loved ones, schedule alone time, have fun with family, avoid self-medicating, journal thoughts and feelings, communicate needs, and set boundaries. These self-care tips help mums handle motherhood challenges, set positive examples for their children, and improve their overall mental health.
Maternal Mental Health And Self-Care: Tips For Mums
As a new mum, it’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself while you’re busy focusing on your little one. When you’re constantly putting the needs of others before your own, it can leave you feeling burnt out – and disconnected from your partner. Taking time for self-care is crucial to maintaining a healthy state of mind, and a strong relationship with your significant other. In this blog post, I’ve compiled a list of 12 self-care tips for mums who are struggling, to help you regain your sense of balance and wellbeing.
If you’re a new(ish) mum, you might have been in survival mode, feeling like you’re all over the place, just about coping. Perhaps you’ve been managing to get through the days, but not much more. If this sounds like you, now is the perfect time to consider some new self-care ideas. It’s at times like these we can find it hardest to look after ourselves. But the irony is that these are the times we need it most.
Self-care can be a bit of a chicken-or-egg situation. You might feel like you need to feel better before you have the energy to make changes to how you are treating yourself. But actually looking after yourself is one of the most powerful things you can do to aid your recovery from pregnancy and birth, and be the best mum possible to your little one(s).
If you’re struggling to know where to start, this list of self-care tips for mums is for you. I hope it gives you an idea or two for a little nudge in the right direction that you feel you can manage, and which helps.
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” ~ Mandy Hale
12 Essential Self-Care Tips For Mums
1. Prioritise sleep, or at least rest
The amount and quality of sleep we have has a huge impact on our mental health, so it’s important to maintain good habits, especially when your sleep is getting interrupted by little ones. If you’re feeling sleep deprived, try to nap if you can, and remember that a lie down in a dark room is a good second best when you can’t.
Exercise, daylight, fresh air, and warm baths can all help you relax enough to get to sleep early, as well as listening to music, podcasts or audio books. Move your phone charger out of the bedroom so you’re not tempted to look at your phone during the night. Use the last hour of the day to read, chat to your partner, or just take some time to think.
And perhaps most importantly, make sure your partner knows how important sleep is to your wellbeing, and is doing everything they can to facilitate you getting as much as possible.
2. Eat well to maintain a balanced diet
When it comes to eating well, focus on adding as much goodness as possible rather than depriving yourself of things you enjoy. For example… See if you can remember to eat some (more) fruit every day this week. Add an extra vegetable to your dinner. Put a handful of nuts in a little box in your bag. Challenge yourself to drink an extra glass of water before you reach for the coffee.
3. Engage in regular exercise
When it comes to exercise, remember that every little bit can help your mood. You could try… Getting off the bus a stop early. Walking the long way around. Finding a five-minute yoga video on YouTube. Every minute makes a difference, and you can build up from there. And when you can do more, do. Exercise is the absolute best for your mental and physical health. Walking especially is its own kind of therapy.
4. Spend time outside
It’s really beneficial to you and your little one(s) if you can get out of the house as often as possible – every day if you can. Anywhere with trees or waves is ideal (the healing power of nature is immense), but the corner shop is better than nothing. And anywhere you can feel a little bit of connection with other humans is even better.
5. Pursue activities that matter to you
Many new mums miss having a sense of purpose outside the family, especially while on maternity leave. If you feel like this, it might help to look for ways you can feel more engaged with your wider community. Perhaps you could do someone a favour; send a friend an encouraging note; or share something online about a local organisation you want to support. Helping others is one of the most powerful ways to feel better about yourself.
6. Stay connected with friends and family
Some of the ways you usually socialise might feel overwhelming or out of reach right now. Don’t let that get in the way of you reaching out and making the connections that could make you feel less alone. You could… Send a friend a text. Ask your neighbour how they are. Compliment a stranger and strike up a conversation. Even the smallest moments of interaction can help if you’re feeling isolated.
7. Schedule time alone for yourself
Life with young kids, constantly meeting their needs, can seriously take its toll. Everyone needs time on their own to think and restore. Say so, and take yours. This might look like taking a long bath, negotiating with your partner to get a regular lie-in, or going for a coffee in peace while they take the kids to the park.
8. Have fun and be silly with your family
One way you can tell if your mental health is not great right now is if you’re not getting as much enjoyment out of things you usually love. Don’t give up – best way to resist this is to just keep doing them. Keep listening to your favourite music. Keep watching funny TV shows. Actively seek out things which lift your mood. And be silly with your partner and kids.
9. Be mindful of self-medicating
It is completely understandable if you feel like reaching for the short-term comfort of alcohol or other drugs. Bear in mind that although this might dampen the overwhelming feelings you’re experiencing now, it might also lead to increased feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment or anxiety later. Can you reach out to someone supportive instead?
10. Write or journal your thoughts and feelings
Becoming a parent is a massive deal, and it’s normal to need some time and space to process everything you’ve been going through. Bear in mind that trauma expert Peter Levine defines trauma as “anything that overwhelms our ability to cope”. So if you feel overwhelmed, treat yourself with compassion.
Motherhood brings with it a whole host of new thoughts and feelings and the more you can face and work through them, the better you’re likely to feel. Don’t know what to write? Start with that. “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know if or how this will help…” So began some of the most helpful journal entries in the world.
11. Communicate your needs to others
Most people like helping others. It makes them feel useful, which is something we all need. “Can I have a hug?” “Please will you help me make sense of this thing?” “Can you give them lunch while I go and take a nap?”
Sometimes we don’t know what we need, and that’s ok too. You could try writing about that.
12. Set boundaries to avoid burnout
We all have limited amounts of time and energy and have to consider carefully how we’ll spend it so we don’t end up burnt out and resentful.
Do you find it difficult to say no? Could it be that when you were a small child you got the message that if you didn’t do as you were asked you would be rejected, and that you are still carrying this idea now?
It might seem counter-intuitive but remember that the more you take on, the less use you will actually be to anyone. When we are stressed or overwhelmed we sometimes go into survival mode and lose our ability to think creatively. If you feel this happening, the chances are you need a break.
Self-Care Tips For Mums: More Support
Remember, you deserve to take care of yourself as much as you take care of your family. By incorporating these self-care ideas into your routine, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges that come with motherhood. You’ll also be setting a positive example for your child/ren by showing them the importance of self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“A mother’s happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.” ~ Honoré de Balzac
In turn, you’ll find yourself feeling more rejuvenated, less overwhelmed, and more connected with your partner. Please don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family, and professionals if you need additional help.
I hope you found these 12 self-care ideas for mums helpful. For more support with your life as a parent, and your relationship with your partner, you can join my mailing list here.