The New Year often brings with it a pressure to try and reinvent ourselves and set ourselves (often unrealistic) resolutions. But what if instead we stopped and noticed just how perfectly wonderful we are?
As we start another new year with a sense of trepidation, rather than energy and excitement, it’s important to find ways that nurture and support our mental wellbeing. Easy to establish, positive ways that don’t take too much time or make you feel guilty.
This is where my no-guilt self-care strategies begin.
1. Be Yourself
Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into making resolutions that don’t sit well with you or are unrealistic. A broken resolution does things to your head that you don’t need - it triggers that blame button.
If you do want to set goals or change something, do it on your own terms. Tackle things in small chunks and ask for help if you need it. Perhaps you want to mediate or actively embrace relaxation. If so, subscribe to Nourish, Calm or Headspace. You might be thinking about getting back to sewing or running. If so, join a local group as it’s much easier to stay on track if you have other people to encourage you - and also to gently have a word if you miss a couple of sessions.
2. Say No
Think more about the boundaries you set around caring for yourself. Most of us are very good at protecting our children from too much, but are you good at doing this for yourself?
What can you say no to? You don’t have to visit every relative your Dad thinks you should be visiting and there are some school events that you can step away from.
No is a positive word. It means, ‘I can’t commit to that right now because there are other things that take priority. When I have time, I will be able to help with the next one.’ It’s not rude or impolite. It is empowering and it puts you back in control of a situation.
The more you say no, the easier it gets and people will soon come to realize that you are 100% there when you say yes, which is much better than an exhausted and resentful you who has said yes to something they really don’t want to do.
3. Friends Not United
Friendships are tricky. Becoming a parent can put some under strain because your priorities change when those of others might not.
Are there some friendships that you can step away from for a while? Do you have certain friends that drain you of energy? If so, the new year is a good time to work out what those friendships really mean and how to take them forward.
Letting go of people is not easy, but people are supposed to come and go from your life. Yes, some will stay for a long time - even forever - but not all of them. It is ok to let some go, without feeling guilty about it.
Ask yourself if being around someone makes you happy at the moment. If not, put a pause on that friendship for a while.
4. Wake Up Earlier
Ok, I know. Sleep is a precious thing and not in abundance when you have children. But picture this: quiet time all to yourself with a cup of tea and a book before the house wakes for the day.
If you cherish quiet time, think about getting up 15 minutes before everyone else usually wakes and enjoy a slow, peaceful start to the day.
Even a few minutes enjoyed by yourself helps set the tone for a more peaceful day ahead.
5. Commit to Asking for Help
Have a little word with yourself, particularly if Christmas has left you exhausted and fed up because you did most of it yourself.
Ask for help and remember that you are not supposed to be able to manage everything.
Not everyone has help close at hand. But if you do, be clear with them about what it is you need. Start the new year by having honest conversations. It’s easy to assume that your partner knows when you’re struggling but they might not. Let them know that you need a break, ask them to watch the children for you so that you can meet a friend or go to a class.
A Sunday evening check in works well for some people. Look at what the week has in store for you and work out where you need help and who can provide it. Parenting is a team thing. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that parenthood means sacrificing your needs. It doesn’t.
These are not resolutions.
They are subtle changes to your life that are easier to implement than you might think. The wonderful thing about them is that they make a huge difference to how you feel very quickly.
Think of them as straightforward, no guilt boundaries, that empower you to feel in more control of your choices and your wellbeing. Strategies to live by rather than a flash in the pan resolution!
About the author
Mandy is a mum of two daughters and the founder of Mother for Life.
She is an expert in perinatal wellbeing. Mandy champions motherhood through Mother Circles; the bringing together of mothers in safe, supportive and non judgemental spaces. She is a yoga and baby massage teacher, a women’s emotional health coach and birth rewind practitioner.
She runs her own unique course training other women to lead their own Mother Circles.
Mandy is on a mission to fill the world with safe, supportive spaces for mums where they are seen and heard. Spaces that empower mums to fulfil their own needs as well as those of their family.