As women, we already know the drill when it comes to practicing healthy self-care habits. We can all agree that taking better care of ourselves leads to longevity and better health.
But it also helps us actually enjoy our slice of life that much more.
And there’s a subcategory of self-care that doesn’t involve eating healthier or lifting dumbells. It’s called emotional self-care. In other words, self-care for our mental health.
Emotional self-care involves acknowledging, validating, and caring for our emotional well-being. In the same way, you might take long walks to stay in good physical health, there are daily habits we can all do to stay in good emotional health.
So, now that we’re on the other side of 2020 we can all see the importance of good mental health. It’s just as important as our physical health.
That’s because our emotions are often in the driver’s seat of determining our choices. When it’s cold outside and you don’t want to go for your morning run, it’s your emotions that play a role in deciding whether you go.
It’s our emotions that whisper to us that we’re terrible mothers when we mess up. Or remind us that we’re not obligated to engage in debates with strangers on the internet. Keep on scrolling!
That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.
When our emotions are healthy – they help us make better choices which ultimately leads to better physical health.
Why Moms Often Neglect Emotional Self Care
Women are notoriously busy and juggle so much even with a great support system.
Moms live in a special kind of busy…one that’s hard for anyone who isn’t a mother to understand.
That’s because “mom busy” not only comprises all the physical demands of doing all the things – but we also carry the emotional load of motherhood too. All the stuff you can’t see on the outside.
Things like doubts, feelings of inadequacy, and worries about the well-being of our children. Most of us never feel like we’re doing it right.
Below is a post I shared on Instagram that details many of the emotional loads we carry every day as moms.
View this post on Instagram
????♀️We all know the physical load of motherhood… Packing lunches, chauffering kids EVERYWHERE, doing laundry before kids can do it for themselves, playing at the park, cooking dinner, giving baths and reading stories at bedtime, checking homework, comforting sick kids, and on and on. And while these things require us to be fully “on” 24/7 without any days off it’s really the “invisible” emotional load of motherhood that’s especially challenging. Why? Because it’s not as talked about as the physical “seen” load of motherhood. It’s also because these issues tap directly into our vulnerabilities and insecurities as moms. And seriously, who the heck likes being vulnerable? ???? But it’s time we start getting real with ourselves and put it all out there! Too many moms are struggling in silence. Feeling like they’re the only ones who doubt their abilities as moms. They feel like they’re the only ones who’s kids watch too much TV, play too many video games, don’t eat enough veggies, or don’t listen until they totally blow their top. If you feel like you’re not doing this mom thing right…you are NOT alone. Every mom on the planet has felt this way in every season of motherhood with every child they’ve raised. ???? Can I tell you something? You are not expected to have all the answers or to show up and do it all right every single time. So many of our emotional struggles as mothers stem from the idea that we “should” know how to do this. But where does this come from? Well, social media and all it’s carefully curated perfection doesn’t help. But it mostly rests on a lack of understanding that we weren’t created to raise our families on our own. We have a Savior that promises to give us the wisdom, strength and much-needed grace we need to be the best mom we can be. His grace is sufficient. When we partner with Christ, we are then made strong in our weaknesses. That’s not a cliche but a biblical Truth. You are already more than enough! Let me know in the comments which struggle hits the hardest for you. ????????
So how can moms care for themselves emotionally without taking up all their precious time?
The answer is by having a super simple emotional self-care strategy that easily fits into everyday life. Here are four simple ways to get started.
1 – Get Your Emotions Out of Your Head
Far too often we struggle with our emotions because we keep them locked inside and only let them out when they explode.
Am I right?
We keep pushing through each day and every moment while thoughts and feelings get to roam free in our minds.
And I don’t know about you, but our thoughts don’t always behave themselves. Like when you leave toddlers to play unsupervised with stuff like glue and glitter. Never, ever do that!
We need to learn to let those thoughts and emotions out of our minds so we can deal with them in a safe and healthy way.
Doing this every day is best but, even if you do this once a week – it helps.
All you need is a space in your day (quiet if you can get it) where you process how you’re feeling that day. Think of it as a daily check-in with yourself.
You’ll do this by simply answering the question: How am I?
You can write your answer in a journal. It can be a physical journal or an electronic file on your computer. I’ve tried both and each method is effective. You can also speak into a voice file that you keep on your phone.
The recording method is not as important as you seeing/hearing the answer to the question. Getting your feelings out of your mind is an exercise of self-awareness that’s helpful in building strong coping skills.
I also cannot emphasize enough how seeing a licensed therapist can help lead you in this process.
2 – Give Your Emotions a Name
This leads me to the next step which is to know and name your emotions. Once you describe your feelings, it makes it easier to process and understand them.
You’ll start to see patterns and learn what triggers certain emotions – both the ones we want and the ones we don’t. As you notice those triggers happening again and again you can start to do things over time to prevent them.
You can start by creating space between you and your emotions by saying something like, “I’m feeling anxious,” rather than, “I’m anxious.”
Then, you can even go deeper to name the root cause of your emotion. For example, feelings like worry, fear, stage fright, and nervousness are often labeled as anxiety.
Instead of saying, “I’m feeling anxious”, try to go deeper into the root cause by saying statements like:
“I’m feeling nervous about the results of my son’s blood test.”
“I’m worried about what will happen now that my husband’s work hours are part-time.”
When we give one sweeping label to so many unique feelings, we cheat ourselves of getting to the real cause of our feelings.
Go deeper than these bigger names and challenge yourself to get specific.
3 – Practice and Protect Your Emotions
We’re not walking through an emotional self-care checklist but creating habits that’ll lead to a happier life.
Here are several things you can do to practice healthy emotions and create the necessary boundaries to protect them:
- Challenge negative thoughts. The longer we allow critical, shame-filled, and insecure thoughts to live in our minds unchecked, the more likely we’re to believe them.
- Practice focusing on what is good. This is not a recipe for toxic positivity where you think happy thoughts and everything gets better. But, looking for the good or the growth that’s happening in us is necessary to help us clear out the lingering negativity.
- Be intentional about avoiding our triggers. If you notice during this process that you have repetitive triggers – see if you can remove that trigger. Many times we don’t even realize how our own habits or routines can add stress to our lives. Move things around and see if that helps.
- Practice gratitude. When we practice a habit of gratitude in our lives this doesn’t mean we need to be quiet and be grateful we’re not in someone else’s worse-off shoes. It does mean that we actively look for things in our life that we’re grateful for.
4 – Treat Yourself Like a Friend
The final thing I want to leave you with is practicing the habit of being kind to yourself. Do you ever pay close attention to the words you speak over yourself?
Are you hyper-critical and talk down to yourself with every choice you make?
Would you say those same things to a close friend? I’m guessing the answer is no. The truth is we tend to be kinder to others than we are to ourselves. And that’s got to stop, my friend!
The next time you notice your inner critic on a never-ending loop, decide to talk to yourself like you’re talking to a close friend.
What would you say?
What encouragement would you give?
What helpful insight would you offer?
You deserve to be treated well and please don’t ever forget that.
Brandi dove headfirst into the passionate world of blogging over 7 years ago when she felt inspired to launch FamilyFelicity in 2017. The name Felicity means great happiness and the joys of heaven, which speaks to her vision for the families she desired to impact with this blog over the years. In 2023, she knew it was time to pass the reigns to another passionate mama to continue the work. Brandi is now helping women thrive in their businesses as a copywriter and branding strategist in her new endeavor Thrive Content Creative. She is thrilled to leave FamilyFelicity in the most capable hands and heart. Thank you DayJah!