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Taking Care of Yourself Makes You a Better Mom

Mothers are often regarded as specialized multi-taskers, nurturing their offspring, climbing the career ladder, caring for family and friends and managing the daily workings of the household. With so much to juggle, it’s no wonder that women often feel overworked and exhausted!

Women do a fantastic job safeguarding everyone else’s physical, mental and emotional health, except for their own.  This self-neglect can result in depression, anxiety disorders and physical illnesses as well.  Being a mother is non-stop, but mom is often sacrificing her own needs to cater to someone else’s.

Many mental health providers find that it is common for women not to take time to care for themselves.  Dr. Gail Saltz, Psychiatrist, says women many times feel guilty about taking time for themselves. “There is some maternal ideal of being self-sacrificing that just isn’t consistent with having time for yourself,” she said.  She feels it is critical that women differentiate between being selfish in an unhealthy way and being selfish in a beneficial way.  “You have to put on your oxygen mask first,” she says. “If you go to pieces, everyone is going down with you. So you have to give time to yourself. That is healthy, not selfish or narcissistic. That is a tough concept for a lot of women.”

Lack of time always seems to be the common denominator to why women put themselves last.  Yet, studies show that even dedicating as little as 15 to 30 minutes daily, can aid in stress relief.  The most successful way to allocate time for yourself is to include it in your daily schedule.  Activities that encourage relaxation are exercise, meditation, listening to music or taking a bath.

Dr. Janet Taylor, Psychiatrist, recommends a journalism exercise for women who struggle with struggle with setting aside time in their busy day for themselves.  First, list all of your daily duties on one side of a piece of paper and then list activities you would like to incorporate on the other side.

Finally, compare the two lists.  Modify your regular routine to integrate a minimum of one item from the “would like to do” list.  Taylor says, “It’s about changing your mindset.  We have to learn to put ourselves at the top of the to-do list.”

In conclusion, if you were going to choose one endeavor for yourself, what would it be?  Ensure you take care of yourself prior to attempting to care of others.  Contemplate the important message that a flight attendant makes before takeoff. Protect your own safety as part of your basic needs. Only then can you turn your attention to others in need. Existing in a habitually fatigued, unhappy and unfulfilled state is not doing you or your loved ones any favors.

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