Written by Laura Galindo
This post was written to contribute to the topic of Self-Care for the What Lola Likes blog by Laura Galindo. All facts, opinions, and professional tips are Laura’s.
One of my favorite topics is self-care and finding ways to incorporate it into everyday life. As a mom of one with another on the way plus a full-time job, it can be so hard to juggle everything ie. being a mom and showing up, working to my fullest potential as a therapist, being a supportive spouse and friend, plus doing all of the day to day things that need to happen in order to run a household. The to-do list can seem daunting, never ending and so overwhelming at times. One way that can help you better manage all of the “stuff” is adding some of these tasks to your daily schedule as if it were an appointment. Most times the biggest issue in regards to time management is “there isn’t enough time”; however, if one actually maps out everything that you do in a week you will most likely find short periods of time throughout your week that you didn’t know you had and that is where you can add in self-care. I like to split my to-do lists into three separate categories or sub-lists (I am a list girl!) The first column is the “things I have to do today”. This is where I will put my dr. appts for the day, going to work, the bills that have to be paid or even sometimes putting down that I need to pick up my daughter from day care (hey, no judging!) The second column is the “things I need to do this week”. It’s not so urgent that it has to get TODAY but rather can wait a few days but should be finished by the end of the week. For me, it the phone calls, following-up on some things, sending out a birthday present etc. The last column, is the “Things I need to do (general)”. This is where everything else on your to-do list will go. Currently this list keeps growing for me as the holidays are coming up and presents I need to start planning out. This is everything that needs to get done eventually, but does not necessarily have a deadline (yet). With each day or week that passes, you shift things from column 2 to column 1. Also column 1 should have no more than 5 items per day, column 2 should have about 6-10 items and column 3 will be the longer list. The idea is to make your life more simple and feel less overwhelming. Instead of focusing on all of the things I think I need to do, I focus on the shorter list which leaves me extra time to play with my daughter or practice self-care.
In addition to that, a lot of people tend to notice they are burnt out when they are already in the thick of it ie. tired, sluggish, physically ill, stressed. In order to help combat this, try to do one thing every day for yourself (yes, I said it!) so that you don’t reach the point of burn out. Burn out occurs in all settings and can really take a toll on your career, relationships and physical health. If you can find even 2 minutes a day to start, it can leave you feeling a bit more energized or recharged. So what can you do to help you practice self-care? The ideas are endless!! Some people will read a chapter a day in their book (or maybe only a few paragraphs), others might get an extra 15 min of sleep, do some deep breathing, take a longer shower, or if you can swing it, taking a mental health day from work. Anything that gives you the sense of rest and recharge amidst a very hectic day. If we can catch ourselves before we go down the rabbit hole and listen to the signals our body gives us every day, it will be easier and take much less effort to achieve restoration then if we ignore the signs and just keep powering through. The way I see it, you are stronger if you are able to acknowledge when you need a break then trying to convince yourself “I got this”.
Finally, making an entire list of 8-10 items of ways that you can practice self-care is a great place to start. That way, when you are stressed, you don’t’ have to think of things to do, you’re list is all set and ready to go. Also, if you have a support system in place ie. boyfriend, husband, close friend, family member, leaning on them and asking them for help when you need it. A lot of the time (myself included) will wait until the stress piles on so high that I feel like I cannot breath. Why do we let it get that far? A lot of this also plays into time management and to learn how you can best maximize your time and be efficient. Sometimes, if you have laundry and dishes and cleaning that are waiting to be tended to, the best thing you can do for yourself is to set a boundary and say “After 830pm, I am not doing any household chores, I need to rest.” I think a lot of times, people tend to think that things need to get done immediately instead of checking in with themselves and reprioritizing what actually NEEDS to get done. The majority of the time, the laundry can wait a few more hours, or the dishes can wait until the next morning. I think it’s also important to remember and recognize that our kids watch everything we do, and while teaching them about responsibilities and chores is important, it is equally important that we teach them about health and wellness and how to spread our time evenly amongst everything. We put so much pressure on ourselves (moms and dads) that we need to be superwoman (or superman) and sometimes the real strength comes from setting boundaries with ourselves, learning what we can and cannot handle and then looking for ways to improve our situation so that we don’t reach burnout.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my ideas about how we can be the best versions of ourselves for our little humans! I look forward to sharing more coping skills and ideas with you in the future!
I am a dual-licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in both California and Connecticut, where I reside with my husband and family. I hold a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Over the past 8+ years, I have gained experience working with those who have chronic mental illness and persons with co-occurring disorders as well as couples, families and individual patients of all ages. My main area of focus is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), an approach that focuses on finding balance, setting boundaries and regulating your emotions to help you live a more enjoyable life. In addition, I am also EMDR Trained which has been proven to be very effective in working with trauma victims and helping them reprocess the event in a healthier way.
When I am not providing therapy, I am soaking up as much time as I possible with our daughter before baby #2 arrives (Spring, 2020), doing any activity outdoors or getting in touch with my creative side; behind the lens of my camera.
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