[Note: I’m writing this from the perspective as a mother and an athlete, I feel the “mom guilt” creep in periodically, as I strive to balance training and motherhood. This short letter can be to any mother who experiences “mom guilt” and or who needs to make sure that they’re taking enough care of themselves. I hope that you find comfort and empowerment in this letter if you feel alone and have difficulty choosing self-care, I know it is not always easy. Being a mom isn’t always easy, but it is wonderful.]
We all experience “mom guilt” and sometimes it occurs when it’s time to go out and run, but just because you go out on a run, doesn’t mean that you stop being a mom. You’re a mom taking care of yourself, enjoy your run. Enjoy everything you do without feeling guilty. Give yourself grace, leave guilt at the door, and acknowledge all of the good things that you do as a mother.
Self-care is crucial as a mom, it makes us better moms when we return from our activities because running and exercise greatly boosts our wellness, both physical and mental. We typically return to our “mini me’s” with more patience, a clearer mind, reduced negativity, better managed anxiety and depression, regulated emotions, boosted happiness, increased self-esteem… The bottom line, a lot of good comes from running and exercise, so take advantage of it.
If you struggle taking care of yourself
You deserve to take care of yourself, even if you have poking negative thoughts and beliefs saying that you don’t. Sometimes, we get caught in a cycle of negative thinking, and when this repeats itself over and over, it reinforces itself. Reinforcements create beliefs. Identify the negative and faulty thoughts and beliefs. Remember, thoughts are thoughts, not facts. Next, change your narrative and self-talk, rewriting your beliefs about yourself. Highlight your strengths, growing confidence and self-esteem. What do you do well? Keep up with managing negative thoughts and beliefs to foster change. You’ve got this!
From your child’s persepective
Your child sees you as a role model and notices that you’re taking care of yourself. Role modeling this teaches them the importance of self-care, as well as goal setting and chasing dreams. They look up to you. I doubt that our children negatively think of us the same ways that we think of ourselves. Our children love us and rely on us to take care of ourselves, so that we can take care of them.
Get after it!
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Limit the time you’re exposed to the situation. Be informed, but limit the amount of news, media, social media, that you take in. For social media, you can choose to follow and unfollow certain accounts and channels. Use social media to build yourself up, promote positivity, and connect with non-toxic people. Social media is a fantastic tool when used this way.
Practice reframing thoughts
Reframe your negative and distorted thoughts. Read about cognitive reframing here. To begin dealing with negative thoughts, we must recognize when we have one. Next, is to identify what triggered the emotion. Our thoughts and emotions are linked. Notice whether you are ignoring, minimizing, or exaggerating the situation. Challenge your thoughts, be curious about them. Keep in mind that thoughts are just thoughts and not fact. The final step is to reframe. Rewrite the thought so that it is no longer negative, personal, permanent, and pervasive. With the practice of reframing our thoughts, over time, positive thinking becomes a biproduct.
Allow yourself to feel peace
Let peace begin with you. What can you do or think that makes you feel peaceful? A few ways to begin feeling peaceful may include, guided meditation, going for a hike or walk, drawing, working on a puzzle, journaling, etc. Allow yourself to feel peace and notice what it feels like.
Limiting exposure to news and social media, reframing thoughts, and finding peace are 3 mindful ways to increase positivity, but there are other paths out there, as well. Participate in 2 to 3 mindful activities for a few weeks or a month to see what you enjoy. Build a mindfulness skillset to use during hard times.
If you would like to work on this with someone, reach out to a professional counselor who can help.
One way to lift your spirits (taken from the book High Hopes by Patrick Lindsay)
“‘Live Now’ Refuse to let time dictate your day. Lose track of it. Immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing. Surrender yourself to the activity. Commit your full attention. Notice the difference.” ~ Patrick Lindsay
“The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude.” ~ Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) (1694-1778)
Years ago, I worked with teens at an inpatient home as a milieu counselor. I did this for two years. We had a big white board and I would pull something appropriate from High Hopes and write it on the board. The teens enjoyed that and would sometimes write it in their journal or decorate around it using dry erase markers.
If you work with teens, I have found that this gentle approach to engaging with teens is easy and can be inspiring. Some days, something I would write seemed to spark people who appeared to be really struggling, as I’d catch them looking at the board and writing in their journal. Occasionally, I observed a boost in positive emotions and peer interactions following.
You don’t have to use this book, there are plenty of good books to pull inspiration from and share with others. I do prefer this method over looking up quotes online. Quotes online seem to repeat themselves and you don’t always know the credibility or who said what. High Hopes is a small book, so it fit in my full bag that I’d take into work.
I hope that this article inspired you.
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People are under an increased amount of stress due to the ongoing pandemic, which has no concrete ending. People who don’t have a mental illness disorder, such as anxiety, are also experiencing mental health vulnerabilities during this time. They report having issues like difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering things, sleep disturbance, and decreased mood.
4 “M”s in mental health
Mindfulness is living in the present moment in a non-judgmental way, and practicing it fosters awareness. People who have completed a mindful activity say that they feel more calm and peaceful afterwards. Download and use mindfulness apps on your phone, follow along on a YouTube video, and try a variety of other mindful activities like the three below. Building mindfulness takes practice because it is a skill.
Mastery is about engaging your mind and doing what you’re good at. Ways of engaging can be tasks as simple as cooking and cleaning. Other ways of engaging your mind include creative writing and expressing yourself through art or music. Mastery can be thought of as a form of distraction. Lastly, it can be thinking about what we have already overcome in life.
Physical movement, such as walking, weightlifting, running, hiking, yoga, writing, painting, playing an instrument, and dancing are all ways to keep moving forward. Movement helps our minds de-stress and feel better. Another benefit is that mood is boosted.
Stay connected to people. If you can’t meet in-person, then stay in-touch through video chatting, social media, phone calls, and sending letters in the mail. Another idea of staying connected is by having a digital picture frame and sharing the “add photos” link with your extended family. Then, extended family members can upload pictures to your frame. This is a good way to see what they (and their pets) have been up to.
These four tips take 10-15 minutes per day and everyone can apply them.
We should be taking advantage of mental wellness strategies like these daily to build up resiliency and improve overall wellbeing. Everyone should have mental health preparedness for situations like the pandemic. People need a list of resources and coping strategies. People should also re-engage with their mental health treatment professional or seek out one if counseling is new to them. Needing support from a professional does not mean that you are weak.
Information from the CDC on taking care of your emotional health during a disaster. A few steps that you can follow:
Take care of your body.
Connect with others.
Avoid too much exposure to the news.
Seek help when needed.
Common signs of distress to look for:
Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.
Changes in appetite, energy and activity levels.
Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.
Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
Worsening of chronic health problems.
Anger or short-temper.
Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
* If you are experiencing these feelings or behaviors for several days in a row and are unable to carry out normal responsibilities because of them seek professional help. * There is further information and additional resources on CDC’s website, here.
I’ve been vegan for years, and I greatly care about being proactive towards my health and the environment.
I strive to encourage people to have a well-balanced lifestyle and to not only work on their mental health, but their physical health, as well.
If you think we’d be a good fit to work together, reach out and I’d be happy to answer your questions. – I’m not a certified dietitian, though I will probably recommend you find one if you need one. — I have experience working with people who battle eating disorders.
Do I belong here? Who am I to be doing this sort of work? I feel like a fraud, though I’m not doing anything wrong, but sometimes this feels wrong.
Dealing with imposter syndrome can be confusing. Someone who is feeling like an imposter may have these thoughts and emotions, one side telling you that you’re a fraud and the other working to rationalize the situation.
Note: Imposter syndrome is not an official psychiatric diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM-5).
Who can be affected?
It’s common to have these thoughts of feeling like a fraud in an academic or work setting. Many people, both women and men, including experts in their field, will experience it. People in the helping and healing fields, like mental health professionals, also go through this. They may think something along the lines of, why do people come to ME for support with their issues?
Graduate students may experience this imposter sensation because they are at an in-between phase of professional development. They tend to feel unprepared and don’t fully acknowledge their strengths as they begin their career.
Why does this happen?
People will feel like they’re lacking a certain skill to get the job done. Realistically, people who are working in a constantly evolving field are sharpening their skills and learning new ones quite frequently to keep up with new technologies and research findings. There is an infinite amount of information to learn and an equal amount of skillful work to be done.
Remember, nobody is perfect and mistakes will be made, especially when someone is stepping into a new career. Not only should people acknowledge that their skills need dialed in, people need to also acknowledge their strengths.
The people who don’t acknowledge their capabilities and efforts tend to attribute their accomplishments to external causes, like luck, good timing, or effort that they can’t regularly expend.
If you are having difficulty pinpointing your strengths
If someone is struggling to recognize their strengths, a good way to figure out what those are is to schedule some time with a pen and paper and reflect on times that you handled something well.
What was the problem?
How did you handle it?
What were your strengths?
How can you use those strengths now?
Another way of finding strengths is to list achievements.
What short-term goals have you accomplished? These can be as simple as time management or maintaining a weekly schedule.
What long-term goals have you accomplished?
What were your strengths?
How can you use those now?
Journaling about talent that you use in school or on the job may be useful.
If someone is still having difficulty thinking of their strengths, they can ask someone whom they are close to, who knows them well, and are comfortable asking that person to list three things that they are good at. Next, the person should take those three things and journal about times they used those characteristics, and lastly, how to apply them in the present. Everyone has things they’re good at.
Recognizing expertise is important. People tend to be overly self-critical, on a level that is self-defeating or unhelpful. Over time, this behavior is destructive and likely smothering out productivity. If someone is working in Information Technology (IT) and they recognize a weakness in a skill, instead of playing into unhelpful thoughts, remembering what what one does well and playing to their strengths will combat this. It’s important to strengthen the weaker skill, but the person also must recall that they are good at. If the IT worker has strong communication and group work skills, then simply highlighting those should help. One can’t always be good at everything. Then, they can communicate to their team where they need assistance in getting the job done.
Pressure to achieve
Pressure to achieve comes from many places. People experience pressure to perform at a higher level from their peers, colleagues, managers, themselves, and messages from society (Think about the American culture, where it is practically a badge of honor to be overworked. This is an unhealthy habit.). Society’s message is that we must always achieve.
Research shows that certain people are more susceptible to fraudulent feelings stemming from their family’s beliefs on achievement and how parents praised or criticized their child.
One thing to be mindful of when going through imposter syndrome is perfectionism. People will attempt to do everything perfectly and might have an “all-or-nothing” mindset. Being aware and weary of perfectionism is important because it can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety. “All-or-nothing” thinking is a cognitive distortion and should be reframed (Refer to the cognitive reframing article on how to reframe unhelpful thoughts into helpful ones).
If we made a small change in our lives every single day, just 1% better, what would our lives look like? How much improvement would we see? How much closer would we be to our goals?
We often don’t notice tiny changes or progress until they build up over time. We can also be quick to dismiss them, ah, it’s nothing, it’s not a big deal. Later, down the road, we look back and notice that our decisions (thoughts) and habits (behaviors) mattered all along. Depending on whether you made good decisions and led healthy habits, you might find yourself in a fantastic situation or a terrible situation.
If we make wise financial decisions over the years, invest properly for retirement, and maybe even follow a financial adviser’s advice, then we should be set up to have a lovely retirement.
If we make poor financial decisions over the years, we spend money excessively, living beyond our means, and we don’t even consider speaking with a financial adviser, then we probably won’t be able to retire the way that we wish to or even at all.
Tiny details matter! Don’t automatically count something out just because it is minor.
A little more on small changes
The change can be anything small. Think to yourself, what makes you happy? What would make you happy? Increase the value of your day by making a 1% change.
Creating changes involves good habits. Do your habits reflect your goals? This also has to do with identity. Who are you? Who do you wish to become? We behave in a way that reflects who we wish to become. Every time we repeat a behavior that reflects that envisioned person or goal, we’re creating a habit. The more we do that behavior, the more the habit is reinforced. Reinforcing the behavior is an important step, it must be repeated over and over. The more you act towards your goals, the more you identify with that.
Watch this video as I share about a current long-term goal and the tiny details that all add up, making my dream a reality.
I hope that you find this eight minute video informative and inspiring.
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