According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect around 19 million American adults, affecting larger numbers of women than men. As moms, we are the nurturers, the life-givers to our children and family. So what happens when we can’t find an ounce of life within us left to give?
It is imperative that we take time for ourselves daily. Once a month, or twice a year simply isn’t enough. In order for us to be better moms, we have to give back to ourselves—refill ourselves. Here are six simple ways for moms to restore and replenish energy:
According to Dr. Denise Lamothe, author of The Taming of the Chew, protein is essential. Lots of fruits and veggies (organic, if possible) should be included in a mom’s daily diet. Instead of falling into the trap of this diet-minded society, moms should focus on themselves and making their health top priority. Avoid foods like sugar, white flour products, and caffeine. Dr. Lamothe suggests drinking plenty of clear water, as dehydration and thirst often mask themselves as emotional hunger.
AVOID EMOTIONAL BINGING
Loneliness plays a key role in emotional eating more often than not. “Eating well, getting ample rest, and taking time alone and time to be with friends is vital,” says Dr. Lamothe. “To avoid emotional eating, a mom needs to learn other ways to deal with her emotions -- to soothe herself without turning to chocolates and cookies or pasta.”
Identify the source of your feelings. Why do you feel sad? What makes you feel lonely? When are you most likely to overeat or binge on junk food? Asking yourself questions like this will help you recognize your weak spots.
“Women should laugh as often as possible to release the healing hormones endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers,” says Dr. Kathleen Hall, founder of The Stress Institute. “Laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones and boosts our immune function.”
Rent a funny movie, or if you don’t have time to watch a movie, set aside time in the evening for your favorite thirty-minute sitcom after the kids are in bed. Buy a funny card to send to a friend, read a joke, make a silly face at yourself in the mirror.
PRACTICE S.E.L.F. CARE
(S=Serenity, E=Exercise, L=Love, F=Food)
“Research tells us these four roots are the foundation of self care and health and moms and women must set a goal to do each of these if for only a few minutes each day,” says Dr. Hall.
Serenity: Center yourself a few minutes during the day. Stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. As you are “quieting” yourself, speak positive affirmations to yourself (I am loving; I am at peace with myself and the world; I accept myself).
Exercise: Park closer to the end of the parking lot at the grocery story and walk those few extra steps to boost your heart rate. Join a thirty-minute workout group or purchase home exercise videos. Invite friends to join you in a three-day per week exercise routine.
Love: “Research tells us that isolation kills and community heals,” says Dr. Hall. Surround yourself with loving friends and family. Thwart stress by avoiding people who thrive on drama. Other ways to practice self-love: buy yourself a bouquet of flowers, treat yourself to a cappuccino, let Daddy baby-sit while you enjoy a Pamper Me day at the spa with your girlfriends.
Food: Dr. Hall says, “Research tells us that B6 produces serotonin and helps depression. Omega 3’s help depression and reduce the risk of heart disease.” Ask your doctor what foods and/or vitamins you should take to enhance your new, healthy lifestyle.
PERK UP YOUR EARS
According to Dr. Hall, listening to music increases serotonin and if you sing along you get an immune boost of 240%. Tune in to your favorite radio station and belt out those favorite tunes while you do housework. Purchase an inexpensive CD player and a few favorite CDs to listen to while you exercise. Treat yourself to tickets to an upcoming concert.
Bring out the artist inside you. Finger paint with your children (which they, of course, will love!), visit a nature park or zoo and bring your camera to take pictures, color in a coloring book, put a puzzle together, create a mini rock garden in your front yard, join a scrapbook class, learn to knit, take a cake-decorating class.
1- The Taming of the Chew, Dr. Denise Lamothe, PsyD, HHD
2- University of Maryland Medical Center - http://www.umm.edu/
3- A Life in Balance, Nourishing the Four Roots of True Happiness, Dr. Kathleen Hall.