As humans, we operate in two main ways: either 'doing' or 'being'. Doing engages our sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight response. Being, in contrast, is the state that engages our parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest response.
As parents/carers, it is natural for us to have strong doing muscles as we spend so much time each day managing family life, such as shopping, preparing food, cleaning, tidying up, planning, etc. and supervising as part of our daily routine not only that we care for our little bundles of joy who require our attention selflessly.
Having a child is a significant life change, and no one prepares you for it; it turns your life upside down, and can come with substantial physical and emotional changes. Life as you once knew it changes drastically overnight. We embrace these changes and begin our "doing" journey. Whilst 'doing' is necessary for a functioning family, it becomes unhealthy when we don't have a balance and tend to forget about ourselves, losing self-love!
We experience thoughts and feelings never felt before, having the best highs. But experience hard low feelings too, which we usually keep to ourselves. We must share these feelings to connect our thoughts, ask for support, and become aware of ourselves. Taking control of how we feel and learning to manage our emotions.
Self-love is a feeling of affection for oneself. Self-love entails having great regard for your own happiness and well-being. Self-love entails caring for one's needs rather than sacrificing one's well-being to please others.
Self-love may mean various things to different people since we all have other methods of caring for ourselves. Understanding what self-love means to you as an individual is a crucial element of your mental wellness.
Self-love is another word for self-care for many individuals. However, we frequently need to return to basics and listen to our bodies to practice self-care.
Take pauses from daily routines to stretch and move.
Put down your phone, reconnect with yourself or others, or do something creative.
Self-love entails loving yourself as you are right now for everything that you are.
Practising self-love in our everyday life
Practising self-love should be a manageable task, but due to our busy lives, we often need to remember our own needs.
Sometimes it's hard to assert yourself and think about your own needs. So while it might be considerate to practice self-love here and there, it's essential to make it a daily practice. Here's a few tips on how to incorporate self-love into your lifestyle:
Prioritise your health and well-being
Physical and mental health are significantly connected, and how you feel physically can impact how you feel psychologically and emotionally. When you start loving and caring for your body, you strongly affect your mental health.
Eating and sleeping well are essential for overall health. This includes eating nutritious foods and getting enough sleep every night but also spoiling ourselves once in a while with the foods that we love, which are not as healthy as we would like them to be!
Regular exercise improves your general health because it lowers your body's cortisol, the stress hormone; regular exercise does not mean going to the gym daily. However, taking a 15-minute walk after work or when your partner takes over the little one is a form of exercise! Now, if you don't feel like going for a walk, do some Yoga or Zumba in your living room; the internet is full of great short videos for you to try in the comfort of your home!
Be kind to yourself
When we constantly think about others and put their needs before ours, we lose compassion for ourselves. As a result, we become our own worse critics. Recognising we are part of a common humanity and comprehending that everyone makes mistakes rather than viewing ourselves as isolated is the first step to self-compassion; we must acknowledge our mistakes and accept our flaws with kindness and without judgment.
Setting boundaries is another way to embrace self-compassion; drawing the line helps with daily life's pressures and helps manage stress. It is essential to know that it is healthy to say 'no' sometimes. By saying 'no' at work or to your family, you recognise your needs and carve out time to be thoughtful about yourself by setting boundaries.
Daily 'me' time
This may be challenging to do with children and busy daily lives, but it is essential for your well-being to schedule time every day just for you, even if it is just for 10 minutes! Talk to your partner and schedule this time together so they are aware of the importance of you having this moment for yourself.
This time will allow you to be with your thoughts, listen to yourself, attend to your needs and just be.
Shut off electronics
Have time during the day to be completely off from electronics. The internet and social media can be beneficial and entertaining, but they can also take over our lives! Social media can also negatively affect our mental health; we tend to compare our lives to social media stories and influencers, judging ourselves more harshly regularly. Thus, this can profoundly impact our self-esteem and confidence.
Switching off from electronics will bring you back to the present moment and will allow you to be one with yourself.
Start or finish your day, thinking about what you are grateful for daily helps us focus on what is going well in life, allowing us to practise positivity and change a negative mindset, leading us to a happy, positive and loving state of mind.
Create mindful moments in your daily life
Pausing for small mindful pauses throughout the day can help you grow mindfulness while reducing stress and negativity, maintaining a positive attitude, and cultivating self-compassion.
Incorporating mindful moments into your daily routine is a great way to practice self-love. Mindfulness enables you to observe what is happening in the present moment, using your senses to concentrate on one thing: your breathing, something you are tasting, feeling or hearing. It helps you become aware of your mind, body, or surroundings.
Mindfulness aims to help you to:
Become more self-aware
Feel calmer and less stressed
Feel more able to choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings
Cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
Be kinder towards yourself.
Challenge yourself to turn some of these moments into opportunities for mindfulness! Here are a few places where you could do this:
Having a shower/bath
Standing in a lift
Sitting in the doctor's office
Waiting for the water to boil
Taking the dog for a walk
Having a cup of tea
Washing the dishes
When you're standing in the grocery store checkout line, wishing it would move faster, invite yourself to accept this moment instead as it is.
Washing your hands. Close your eyes and pay attention to each step of the process, noticing the feeling, the smell of the bubbly soap on your hands and the temperature of the water. Gently rub your hands, touching your fingers and rubbing the palm of your hands. Take a moment to take in the textures, sensations and smells.
Treat it with curiosity and openness. Pay attention to what's happening around you with no judgment. Close your eyes and listen to your surroundings, focus on one sound and try to work out what the sound might be.
Remember, mindfulness involves paying attention to what is happening inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment. It is about stopping to notice the world around us, focusing our senses and attention on our body, breathing, noises around us, touch and smells.
It allows us to become more aware of the thoughts and feelings we experience and to see how we can weave out thoughts that are not helpful.
Join 1000's of families learning at home
Get 3 months of free access to our award-winning nursery education app.