Self-care.....ahhh. Sure can seem a daunting thing! I once thought of self-care as elaborate out-of-the house practices such as: going for a massage, a pedicure, a cut and colour or a glass of wine with friends. Now, as a parent of two, this concept has evolved out of necessity. It can seem impossible to complete the day-to-day tasks, let alone indulge. I found myself procrastinating and putting self-care on the bottom of my priority list. And, consequently, began to lose myself.
Signs I needed self-care were many and I recognized them as increased irritability, lessened patience, creeping resentments and a reduced tolerance for stress. The concept of self-care took on a new flavour. It became a need for self preservation, as I could no longer recognize myself or my needs. I am sure you can relate. It meant, as a parent, putting the needs of every family member (and pet?) before myself. How could I integrate bits and pieces of self care into my day-to-day?
Although we do not own a television or cell phone (I know, gasp!), I found social media and Netflix to be a total time sink, over-stimulating and as research shows, to increase negative thoughts. First step was to deactivate the Netflix account and limit my social media time to 30 minutes daily. I found that one simple step brought my stress down, the house was nice and quiet and I had carved out space in my day for self care.
I compiled a Self Care list - which for you will be as unique as your finger-print:
-Say no to activities and requests that drain me.
-Use lavender oil in a bath or diffuser
-Cuddle up on the couch with a fiction novel and hot water bottle
-20 minutes daily out-door exercise (walking in nature)
-10 minutes daily stretching or yoga
-Nightly relaxing herbal tea (recipe provided)
-Daily vitamins for post-partum health
The changes were immediate! I had a greater sense of gratitude, was more present for my children and had more inner peace. I will continue these practices regularly (perhaps not yet daily!), and will add in journalling and creative projects, like water colour painting, when the time feels right.
How can we fill up the cups of our family members if ours is empty? Self-care is about filling your cup: so that you will take care of yourself first, in order to have the capacity to care for others.
1 part nettles
1 part red clover
1 part peppermint
1 part oat straw or milk oat tops
1 part red raspberry leaf
Directions: mix 50 grams of each herb in a bowl and pour into a mason jar. Keep in a cool, dark place.
Use 1 heaping tablespoon of the herbal mixture per 8oz of boiling water and steep, covered for at least 15 minutes. Add honey, if desired. You can also steep larger volumes over-night to increase the mineral content. Drink three cups, daily.
Properties of Self-Care tea: regulates menstrual cycle, source of minerals like iron and calcium, medicinal tea for pregnancy and post-partum, prepare the uterus for labour, eases menstrual cramps and heavy cycles, bone health, helps reduce nausea and mild digestive complaints, resolves anemia and mild fatigue and reduces sugar and caffeine cravings.
This tea may be familiar to you as my "Power Pregnancy" tea.
Dr. Luterbach specializes in women's health, pediatrics and thyroid care. She returned to clinical practice from her maternity leave on April 18. Availability: Tuesdays and Thursdays. Currently accepting new patients.