While Mother’s Day is a great day to celebrate Moms, it can’t be the only day that moms practice self-care. Self-care does not equal self-indulgence or selfishness. Self-care is necessary to maintain your health, care for others and accomplish your daily responsibilities and goals. Self-care is meant to help improve overall physical and mental health to avoid burnout and cope appropriately with stress.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the advertisements for Boozy Mother’s Day Brunches or bottomless Mom-osa’s, but alcohol is not considered a form of self-care, and it is not an effective form of relaxation either. When individuals utilize alcohol or other substances as self-care methods, they place themselves at risk of addiction or burnout. Listed below are activities not considered self-care and healthy forms of self-care.
What Is Not Self-Care:
- Ambien, Lunesta, Xanax, Benzodiazephines or Melatonin to sleep
- Unhealthy food binges
- Overcommitting yourself
- Sleep deprivation
- Running errands
- Not making yourself a priority
Healthy Forms of Self-Care:
- Healthy Diet
- Enough sleep
- Take a break (take a bath, read a book, take a nap)
- Socialize with friends
- Setting boundaries
Using alcohol as a reward after a long day with the kids or a long week at the office is not a form of self-care. Alcohol consumption can lead to other health problems like liver disease and cardiovascular issues, and since alcohol is a depressant, it increases the risk of depression. According to the CDC, approximately 13% of adult women report binge or excessive drinking and, on average, do so four times a month, consuming five drinks per binge.
How to Unwind Without Alcohol:
- Take a bath. Relax your muscles and your mind. Add bubbles, bath bombs, or essential oils to improve your mood. You can also play soothing music, dim the lighting and grab a book to set the mood. This weekly ritual can provide more benefits than any glass of wine.
- Grab some exercise. Yoga is a great way to relax your mind, body, and soul. Walking the dog, trying out a new trail, going for a run, or hitting the gym are all great ways to boost endorphins, release stress and improve your mental and physical health.
- Start a new hobby. Try sudoku, crossword puzzles, or assembling a jigsaw puzzle. These are great ways to have your mind focus on something other than your daily to-do list. Or if you are feeling creative, you can try a pottery class, knitting or sewing, or even finally scrapbook those family photos.
- Declutter. Organization and purging items you no longer need are great ways to eliminate stress from your daily routine. In addition, cleaning can be extremely calming and give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Take some time for yourself, whether it’s a few stolen moments in the morning before the kids wake up to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee or getting your nails done in the afternoon. You deserve time to be alone with your thoughts and time to only focus on yourself and your needs.
The average adult requires seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Roughly 70 million people in the United States suffer from sleep problems, but women are more likely to have sleep issues than men. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), these sleep aids are more commonly used amongst women than men. While individuals do need a healthy amount of sleep, taking sleep medication to relax enough for your body to sleep is not considered a form of self-care. To keep your brain and body going, you need adequate sleep. A healthy sleep routine is essential for physical and mental health, improving productivity and overall quality of life.
How to Improve Sleep Hygiene:
Insomnia, a sleep disorder, can often be treated effectively as an underlying sleep disorder, physical ailment, or mental health disorder under the guidance of a health professional.
Women can benefit from finding ways to improve their sleep hygiene, which refers to their sleep environment and habits. Examples of sleep hygiene enhancements include:
- Keep your sleep routine consistent. Going to bed at the same time each night, even on weekends, will promote healthier sleep patterns.
- Limit the use of alcohol and caffeine a few hours before bedtime.
- Put down the cell phone, tablets, or other devices for an hour or more before bed.
- Try some relaxation techniques or wind-down time, like meditation or reading, as part of a standard routine before going to bed.
- Create a cozy bedroom with a supportive mattress, quality bedding, a comfortable temperature, and some white noise.
Like addiction to alcohol or drugs, your body can experience the same addictive relationship with food. When experiencing boredom, stress, anger, loneliness, or exhaustion, individuals tend to turn to food to satisfy those feelings. People often view food like they view alcohol as a reward, for example, “I worked out three days this week, so I deserve this pint of ice cream” or “I cooked healthy meals for my family all week, so I deserve this fast food.” Food should never be used as a reward, and it should not be used as a method of coping either. According to Matthew J. Kuchan, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at Abbott, “eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body.”
Healthy Eating Habits to Cope With Stress:
Heart-Healthy Omega-3 Fatty Acids- found in fish such as halibut, salmon, sardines, and tuna are not only good for your heart but may also reduce depression.
Hydration: Being dehydrated raises your cortisol levels, which then increases your stress levels. So grab your cup and flush out some of that stress! Water is also great for your skin!
Nuts: Contain B vitamins which have been shown to lower stress levels and even reduce blood pressure.
Avocados: This fruit contains healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber, all assist in stress reduction.
Milk: Milk and other dairy products with calcium and additional vitamin D help stabilize your mood and relax your muscles. Milk has also been found beneficial for PMS, which can amplify stress levels.
Leafy Greens: Spinach and kale, along with other raw veggies and fruits, are a rich source of magnesium; they also regulate cortisol and blood pressure levels. In addition, leafy greens are a great source of fiber and contain folate, which helps produce dopamine, making you feel good!
Overcommitting is another way to increase stress levels and become burnt out. Women tend to keep taking on additional commitments, whether it’s carpooling, baking for the bake sale, running a fundraiser, or hosting a holiday. The power of the word “no” can go a long way and eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress.
How to Avoid Overcommitting:
Set Boundaries: Once you commit to one thing on your calendar, do not add any additional items. Use the extra uncommitted time to practice your self-care routine and spend time alone or with family and friends.
Don’t Explain Yourself- A simple “NO” will suffice. Don’t feel like you owe an explanation to anyone. You will feel less mental stress by saying a simple response than going into an in-depth description.
Keep Yourself Organized: Utilize your calendar to ensure you are not adding in any overlapping commitments. The stress of double booking or running from one commitment to another is not worth it. The organization is a method of self-care, so you use this tool to maintain your boundaries and keep your life organized.
Don’t Succumb to the Pressure to Say Yes: as women, we often feel like the only acceptable response is “yes.” As a result, moms usually take on the added responsibilities like packing the lunches, washing the sports uniforms, booking the haircuts, scheduling doctors and dentist appointments, and rarely ask their male counterparts to assist. Instead, learn to ask for help, even if you schedule the appointments, allow someone else to transport the kids, or assist somehow.
Running errands like food shopping and picking up the dry cleaning is not a form of self-care. Unfortunately, many Moms consider the opportunity to run these errands sans kids as a luxury. While going to the grocery store alone might be less stressful than with three kids in tow, it does not count as “alone time.”
Errands that Count as Self-Care:
- Annual Physical for Yourself
- Manicure or Pedicure
- Lunch with Friends
- Shopping for Yourself
- Haircut for Yourself
- A New Experience for Yourself
Constantly overworking and skimping on your personal needs is a common trend; however, it’s hazardous to your overall well-being. When we don’t take care of ourselves, mental and physical risks can develop and lead us down an unhealthy path of addiction, whether addiction to substances or unhealthy habits.
Why is it Important to Make Your Self-Care a Priority?
- You Cannot Pour From An Empty Cup
- Your Health Is the Most Important Things
- Life is Short. It would be best if you Enjoyed It
- Importance of Managing Stress
- You Cannot Love Something You Don’t Care For
- Time and Health are Worth More than Money
- Nothing Lasts Forever
- People will come and go, make peace with yourself
Many people struggle to find the time to practice appropriate self-care. If you or someone you know has been using alcohol or drugs as a form of self-care, please contact us today. After months of using substances as a relaxant or solution to your problems, it will take some time to learn how to administer self-care properly, but we are here to assist you on your journey. Make yourself a priority and commit to sobriety and self-care today.
Avatar Alcohol and Drugs Recovery Center in New Jersey provides quality drug and alcohol addiction treatments and behavioral health services. If you or someone is struggling, please call +1 (877)-209-1600 for more information. We provide a variety of treatment services for individuals struggling with addiction and mental health issues.