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22 Tips for “filling your tank” every day

Women’s Health | Wellness | May 7, 2020
healthcare workers express appreciation for moms
Healthcare workers encourage moms to make their own health a priority. Here are some ideas for how to do that.

Moms, do you feel like you’re running on fumes?

Providers who take care of kids have an important message for moms too…be sure to take care of yourself…not just everyone else.

“I’ve always told moms and dads that the best thing you can do for your children is to keep yourself in a good frame of mind,” says Jim Bochsler, MD, a pediatrician at PeaceHealth in Bellingham. “There’s a reason we’re told to put on our oxygen mask before we put the mask on someone else.”

That common analogy from air travel is one Dr. Bochsler uses often with parents and there’s good reason. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.

Whether you’re a parent or not—get used to the idea of checking in with yourself to gauge your energy level and well-being.

Every day.

You're setting an example

And remember, you’re not doing this just for yourself. You’re showing others in your life that you need consideration. And by taking care of yourself, you’re also setting the example for your kids to follow themselves someday.

Above all, be kind and compassionate to yourself. You need it. You deserve it.

“When you are running on fumes, caring for others can tax your already depleted resources to a breaking point,” says Robyn McClennan, a patient navigator and certified health coach at PeaceHealth.

“But when you prioritize your needs, you’re filling the tank, emotionally and physically, and that means you’ll be in a position to offer comfort and care to others when they need it most.”

So, how do you refuel?

One really great way is to get and give hugs.

“We are often so busy that it can be hard to stop and feel connected with the important people in your life,” says Serena Black, MD, a pediatric hospitalist in Springfield, Oregon and the medical director of pediatrics at PeaceHealth.

“Getting a hug from a loved one can be just as important as giving one,” she notes. “It is a simple practice that is helping me every day.”

Pick activities that spark joy

Other activities will depend on the age of your child and what sparks joy for you. Sometimes those things can be with others. At other times, you really need time alone.

Either way, here are several more tried and true ideas for filling your tank:

  1. Get creative. Draw, paint or write a story. Knit or work on a craft project.
  2. Make a cup of your favorite tea or coffee and drink it slowly and enjoy the warmth of the mug in both hands.
  3. Look through your cookbooks for new ideas for meals.
  4. Go outside and do some deep breathing. Getting fresh air can help clear your mind.
  5. Lie down in the grass and look at the sky. Use all five senses to take in your amazing environment and feel grateful to be alive.  
  6. Find inspirational quotes. With today’s technology, they’re only a click away.
  7. Look at pictures that make you happy…photos of family, friends or puppies, kittens…whatever makes you smile.
  8. Rediscover what you loved as a child. Express your innermost free spirit to leave stress behind. Color, sing along to music you love or whatever.
  9. Move every day. Walk, dance, pull weeds, dust, vacuum, even for short intervals, but just move. Exercise increases serotonin and improves your mood and energy.
  10. Tackle projects that you’ve put off. Clean out a cupboard. Wash the car. Organize the office. You’ll feel you’ve accomplished something positive.
  11. Crack open that book you’ve been waiting to read. 
  12. Give yourself permission to sit, enjoy that piece of chocolate or cookie, but savor it and remember it’s okay to rest. 
  13. Walk every day rain or shine. You can strive for 10,000 steps but forgive yourself if you don’t meet your goal.
  14. Garden. Planting and even weeding can be fun. Plus, it can help you feel “grounded” (pun intended).
  15. Laugh. Laughter gives us a feeling of calm.
  16. Call someone you love to maintain a sense of closeness and talk about positive things and reminisce about old times.
  17. Take 10 minutes to give your brain a break. Turn off your phone, find a peaceful corner of the house and just breathe. That’s it. It's just long enough of a reset to help you find balance in your day.
  18. Be mindful of your blessings. Every morning and/or evening, take a few moments to be aware and give thanks for at least one of your blessings.
  19. Take a nap.
  20. Keep up with good nutrition. When your body is depleted, you risk of burn-out and illness runs high.
  21. Drink water. Hydration is a significant but often ignored key to wellness.
  22. Write in a journal. Jot down the cute things your kids say or the situations you want to look back on one day. It also helps you practice gratitude, which shifts your mindset from one of stress, scarcity, and worry to one of abundance and thankfulness.

If your kids are old enough, they can be encouraged to their own "self-care" activities while you're doing yours.

“Be there for yourself. Schedule some time for yourself every day. You need just as much love and care as the rest of your family,” notes Eileen Beck, a coding specialist and health coach at PeaceHealth. “They’ll be there when you finish.”

Your family will thank you.

Special thanks to the certified health coaches at PeaceHealth for these and other tips.

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