When times get tough, do you put yourself last?
Not too long ago, I wrote a post about coping with stress. Today, I’m happy to report that simply by pushing myself to fit in a workout — even though it felt like I couldn’t possibly squeeze another 30 minutes out of my day — I’m feeling not only more energetic, but more optimistic, too.
I confess that I sometimes forget how strong the connection is between my mind and my body. And I’ll also confess that I’m guilty of something I’m sure many mothers can relate to: When times get busy or tough or otherwise problematic, I tend to put myself last. My self-care goes right out the window, leaving me tired, stressed and feeling low.
You might not think I can relate this to body image, but I can. See in some ways, it’s a self-worth issue. When we make everybody else — their wants, wishes and feelings — more important than our own basic needs, we’re sending a message…not just to them, but to us, too.
- Apply the mommy guilt. I remind myself that I’m an example to my children and if they see me ignoring my own health, I’m sending a message that it’s more important to run yourself ragged doing for others than to take care of yourself. Odd as it sounds, I can actually “guilt” myself into taking care of myself.
- Up your expectations. Guess what? Kids — and husbands — are capable of way more than we might imagine. Making lunch, brewing coffee, walking the dog…someone else can actually do those things!
- Make a trade-off. Remember that workout I mentioned earlier? It came at a price; namely, I got up a half-hour earlier. It was hard to drag myself out of bed in the cold morning darkness, but when that workout was over, it was well worth it. I followed it with a nice protein-rich breakfast and felt amazing all day.
Dara Chadwick is the author of “You’d Be So Pretty If…: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies – Even When We Don’t Love Our Own.” She has been interviewed on NBC’s TODAY Show, as well as on a variety of radio and television programs. A former Weight-Loss Diary columnist for Shape magazine, Dara has written about health, wellness and parenting for magazines such as Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, VIV, For Me, Shape, Parenting and Working Mother. Her work has also appeared online at sites such as The Daily Beast and Psychology Today. Visit her blog: You’d Be So Pretty If.