One common theme has been revealed throughout the course of many conversations I have had with moms since schools closed due to the pandemic. In these intimate moments of conversation, we have all been able to relate. This time in our lives has been hard! The struggle and stress has been overwhelming at times. But you can take 5 simple steps toward self-care this summer to get back on track.
Messages all around us have stated that we are all in this together but that doesn’t mean our experiences have been the same. We may be going through a pandemic as a collective whole, but each household is experiencing this time in a unique way. Have you been on a roller coaster of emotions at some point during this pandemic? If so, you are quite normal and not alone.
The demands of juggling so many things within our walls became nonstop for those of us with school-aged children. For those who were not homeschooling before schools closed, we became our children’s daily companions, fulfilling the roles of numerous teachers, navigating how remote learning looked in our homes, and getting caught up in daily power struggles with getting school work done. Some of us maintained our jobs by working from home and had to juggle that too. Other families lost income and jobs, adding a whole other level of stress to manage. It was a lot to keep together for our kids. Self-care was possible but may have been limited.
We had to manage the ins and outs of shopping, preparing all of our meals, shift with all of the changes in the world as we tried to purchase what we needed for our families…looking for toilet paper, frozen pizza, and face masks became the burden for a while. We did this all while trying to maintain the physical and emotional safety within our walls and more importantly, within ourselves. With limited outlets due to the closures all around us, managing the emotional overwhelm became a challenge.
The importance of self-care needs to take priority. It has always needed to be, but this summer is an opportunity to take it to the next level. As a mom, self-care creates opportunities to refill, replenish, and re-energize. It is from a fulfilled place that we are better able to serve those we have been entrusted with.
Being stuck at home has magnified our stressors. Underneath the surface of what our pre-pandemic everyday lives looked like, we found ways to keep our insecurities hidden with the busyness of routine and work. But a nonstop cycle of being pulled in every direction while taking care of little ones can bring those underlying insecurities to the surface at full speed.
As this awkward school year comes to an end, parts of the world and parts of our country are opening up again. There is still uncertainty about what the future holds but it is important to pause in the moment that we are in. We are unsure of what the the post-pandemic normal will become but let’s determine to be in our current season. Uncertainty cannot take center stage. The need to take care of ourselves needs to become our focus.
Embrace the end of the school year as a time of summer rest and self-care. Be glad that the juggling act will be less overwhelming for now. Summer 2020 is going to look different for a lot of us. Let’s make self-care a priority by taking the necessary steps in becoming stronger and more balanced instead of broken and defeated when the world opens up again. But how?
Begin by recognizing the negative thoughts, reframing your perspective, and reclaiming the strength, vision, and purpose that God has for you. Here are five simple steps to get you started.
5 Simple Steps Towards Summer Self-Care
- Identify Your Need - Self-awareness is the first step in identifying what your needs even are. When you can name your needs, steps can be taken towards having those needs met. Do you need rest? Encouragement? Time alone? Help? Someone to talk to? A night off of cooking? If you are not aware of what your own need is, then no one else is going to be able to help you fill that need.
Identify How a Need Can Be Met - When you identify a need, look for ways to have that need met. If you need something, ask your support system for help in meeting it. Can someone else make dinner for a night? Can you order out? Can someone else handle the grocery list or contribute to putting it together? Look for ways to pull into your resources. This is a time for children to see themselves as part of the family team by pitching in. Can someone else handle laundry? Feed the dog? Mow the lawn? You get the picture!
Take Care of Yourself - What does actually taking care of yourself look like? Being pulled in so many directions throughout the course of a day is overwhelming. Pouring out from an empty cup will lead to stress, emotional overwhelm, and burnout. These negative possibilities are harmful to our own bodies and can become harmful to those who we love when our mood contributes to any tension in the home. What are the things that will help you feel replenished and energized? This can range from spending time reading a devotional, working out, meditating, going for a walk, having some quiet time. Each person is made differently and you need to learn about what will help you feel like you are replenished. Meeting your physical, spiritual, and emotional needs by plugging into activities that help each area be filled is crucial.
Use Encouraging Scripture to Shift Your Mindset - Reach into God’s word to seek the truth about the value and worth that God considers you to be. By focusing on the circumstances around us, we can easily be deceived into thinking things about us that are not true. We can also forget to put our trust in our creator, who sees the bigger picture. God does not want us to be anxious and overwhelmed. He wants us to focus on whatever things are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy. He wants us to bring our needs straight to him and fill us with His peace (Philippians 4:8-9).
Plug Into Support - Support may be reaching out to your spouse, a friend, a pastor, a small group, or a professional counselor. There are still many ways to connect with others while maintaining social distance. I have reached out to several friends throughout the shelter-in place orders. Taking the time to talk things through has made room for understanding. We have laughed together, cried together, understood each other, and encouraged each other with the strength to continue moving forward. You can read more about the importance of connection in How to Connect With Others During Shelter-In-Place Orders.
If your thoughts have become unhealthy and you need a safe place to talk with someone who will listen to your concerns without judgement, it is okay to plug into professional support. Mental health needs have been on the rise during the pandemic and there are ways to access professional support through Telehealth systems by calling your insurance provider or community mental health agencies in your area.
Let’s purpose within our hearts and through our actions, to make self-care a priority this summer. There is strength found in things that we do within community. Taking care of ourselves will help us rise up to the challenges around us and we will find the strength to press on…together.