The post-partum life is straight up HARD…am I right? It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
I thought I had a pretty high threshold for challenge, stress, and pain. Apparently it wasn’t high enough. With the combination of sleep deprivation, hormones completely out of wack, and being thrown completely off any normal resembling routine…I was a hot MESS.
Now that Aleena is 11 months old, life is a lot more clear and definitely more fun than a few months ago. But I’m grateful for it all and would do it again in a heartbeat if I had to.
One thing I want to improve on for next time is self-care. I wish I would have been a bit more gentle with myself and would have taken more time for some self-care. So if you’re like me and have a hard time SLOWING down, here are 5 ways to take care of yourself postpartum:
1. Do something you’ve always wanted to do.
I know this sounds kind of strange…how does this count as self-care? When I was about 6 months postpartum, I had just started feeling better after a health scare. Based on the health issues I was facing, it would make sense for me to take on as little responsibility as possible and sit on the couch and watch netflix all day. But that wouldn’t make me happy in the long-run. It would just allow me to wallow and feel sorry for myself. If I did that, I would be playing the victim and blaming “life” for whatever was happening to me. I HATE playing the victim card. We are not helpless and I refuse to ever let myself get in that state of mind.
So I was feeling crappy, but I made a decision….I was going to do whatever it takes to accomplish my number one goal:
To start my online personal training business.
I had been “wishing” I could start my business online as if it was just somehow going to fall into my lap. I had just gone through the hardest 6 months of my life after giving birth. So I thought to myself, if I can do that…I can do literally ANYTHING. So I hired a business coach. I was done “wishing” and was ready to invest in myself and make my dreams a reality. This was one of the best things I had ever done for myself. I started waking up each day with more energy, excitement, and motivation. I hadn’t felt those feelings in a while and it felt great to feel a bit back to myself again!
So I challenge you to reflect on your goals and dreams…what is ONE thing that you’ve been desperately wanting to achieve for yourself, but you have been putting it off for one reason or another? What do you love doing that you can start as a “side-hustle” or as a hobby just for YOU?
Maybe it’s hiring a dietician, traveling somewhere, finishing your degree, hiring a life coach, starting a blog, learning to paint, or getting a personal trainer *nudge nudge* 😉
2. Nourish your body as much as you can.
I know it’s extremely hard to eat healthy and exercise postpartum, but I promise you it is so worth it. Try to incorporate a healthy habit into your day that is almost too easy for you to accomplish.
For example, most women are “carb queens” and do not eat enough quality protein postpartum (and in general to be honest…). If that’s you, try eating at least one palm-sized portion of protein at one meal a day. Once you get that meal down, you can start eating two palm-sized portions of protein a day (so two meals instead of one). Continue this until you are eating one palm-sized portion of protein at each meal.
After eating enough protein becomes a habit, try eating 1-2 handfuls of vegetables one meal a day. Again, slowly improve on this habit until it becomes easy to maintain at each meal.
So for now, try just improving one meal a day. Take breakfast for example. Try to get in a couple eggs and some fresh fruit and vegetables and I guarantee you your day will feel brighter and you’ll have more energy throughout your morning.
Not only will eating healthier improve your energy levels and nourish your body for yourself and your little one, but it will also improve any postpartum mental health symptoms.
It’s as simple as it sounds. Breathe. Our breath can get completely out of wack after birth. Most of the time when we are stressed out, tired, or being emotional, we are taking shallow breaths.
Breathing deeply (into your belly) allows you to control your mental and physiological state. It gets your body back into a state of relaxation so that you can bring more energy and clarity into your body. Taking a few minutes to breath daily is something that everyone should be practicing, especially nowadays when everyone is in “fight-or-flight” mode.
In the book, Just Breathe by Dan Brule, Dr. Patricia Gerbarg (a graduate of Harvard Medical School and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College) states:
“Because breathing has such a strong impact on our thoughts and feelings, it provides a portal through which we can send messages through our own nervous system to quiet our minds, reduce defensive overreactivity, and enable us to feel safe, close, loving, and loved.”
Talk about amazing! We can literally change our mind-body state by controlling our breath. Dan Brule states that, “By changing the pattern of our breathing, we change the pattern of information being sent to the brain.”
Overall, our breathing pattern sends signals to the parts of the brain that controls emotions, perceptions, judgements, thoughts, and behaviors.
So if you are feeling anxious, tired, stressed out, emotional, etc etc…try doing the following:
Breathe at a rate of 5 counts in and 5 counts out. So…
Now take 6 deep breaths per minute (while counting), 3 times a day for 5 minutes.
Three times a day.
6 breaths per minute.
Five minutes total.
If this sounds daunting, try starting with 5 minutes once a day in the morning before you do anything else and slowly increase to 3 times a day.
These are just a few of my favorite self-care ideas postpartum! And let me know what you think in the comments below! What are your favorite self-care ideas postpartum?!