The first week of May is Mental Health Awareness Week. But if you ask me, mental health is something we should be talking about every single day. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and much like fitting in exercise and preparing healthy meals, we should work on promoting positive thoughts and fostering self-care.
Self-care took on a completely different meaning for me when I became a mother. That little baby in my arms was relying completely on me – he was my priority. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, I slowly learned that I was going to have to work to be the strongest and best mother I could for him. And that meant being the best version of myself – fed, rested, patient and positive.
For me that meant taking time for the activities that made me feel good, grounded and sane. Whether that was trying new recipes, prioritizing my work outs or making an effort to socialize, I really, really tried (not always successfully) to hold on to parts of the person that I was before becoming a mother.
I should mention that I only reached this moment of what I like to consider “clarity” after he was a few months old. For the first few months I was a sleep-deprived, shadow of a person, struggling to cope with a baby who just would not sleep. And since he wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t sleeping. There was no amount of coffee or patience in the world that could overcome the massive sleep deficit I found myself in.
Once we began working with a sleep consultant and I began to regain my sleep and my sanity, I realized just how important it was to remember one of my favourite quotes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” As mothers we always want to go above and beyond for our families and children. But often we forget that taking proper care of ourselves – mentally and physically – is step number one in setting ourselves up for success.
Obviously every person has different interests, challenges and ways to unwind. This week, remember yourself. Remember how strong, amazing and confident you are. Sit down with a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine (it’s 5 p.m. somewhere!) and a notebook and give some serious thought to your sanity. Is what you’re doing working? How can you improve? Are there areas that need some attention? Are you making your health and sanity a priority? Who/what can help you achieve the balance you crave? Talk with your friends, your partner and confidants and really explore how to improve your momma-life balance and take care of everyone – especially yourself.
And if sleep issues are preventing you from being your best self, remember we know a few people who can help!