A few months ago I read an article regarding black mothers and self-care. Essentially the article was speaking on how black women have the image of the strong woman, however, that strength comes with many sacrifices; mostly at the expense of their own self-care/mental health.
“Women are drowning because they lack support systems. They lack family willing to help. They lack partnerships that allow them adequate time to decompress from being a mom. Most of self care is done as an after thought. It’s done after you cook the kids dinner, after you get the kids in bed, after, after, after you do everything for everyone else.”
For many women (black women especially) there is already a struggle with caring for their own mental health, so the act of taking care of themselves can be more of a political one, rather than a matter of self-preservation.
Give yourself permission to take a time-out
It can be extremely difficult as a woman and mother to excuse yourself from things going on around you. For many of us there is a need to be present and actively involved in the activities going on around us. For myself, I have always felt that stepping away means everything will fall apart, however, deep down I know that it’s not true. Guess what? You can give yourself a little time out when you need it at home.
This can be as simple as taking a moment to just Breathe. You can simply walk into an empty room (or step outside) and take 1+ minutes to focus on your exhale and inhale. See? There is nothing radical about breathing, we all do it. But being able to just take a deep breath, with no around can really re-energize you, and seemingly give you the extra push needed to get through your day.
Pour into yourself, before focusing on others
This is where I struggle the most. It feels really “selfish” to want to worry about myself, and no one else. Starting at 4 am every morning I am putting together school clothes, changing diapers, planning out the day and continue going until 9-10pm every evening. Its a cycle of constantly tending to others’ needs leaves no time for your own.
If you are constantly worrying about and attending to everyone’s needs first instead of your own, how can you possibly be giving them your all? The hard truth is you can’t. By pouring into yourself first, it allows you to pour into others.
One way to combat this is to create healthy boundaries. You can strategize how you can create some more space for yourself. Then, give yourself permission to try to do so.
Another quick way to do this is by saying a few affirmations while brushing your teeth. Simply stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself how valuable you are. Repeat it until you believe it more and more.
Release what you’re holding inside
I love journaling in order to get my thoughts out. There’s so much that I have been wanting to say and get out, and I know that I can’t always say it to someone else. By writing it down I am releasing it into the world so to speak, but in a private manner.
It’s not just the negative that I am writing and releasing. It’s also positive things as well. I like to write things that I am grateful for, this can be everything from being thankful that I live to see another day or even being grateful for the sun to be shining. Gratitude can shift your focus to abundance.
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.