Looking after our mental wellbeing can sometimes feel like just another chore to add to our never ending To Do list… and as a result, it often gets pushed to the bottom of the priority pile or disregarded completely.
But it is paramount that we take good care of ourselves. Sure, raising a family and looking after our home is important. And of course, work and other commitments… but if we’re not taking care of number one, then ultimately we’re no good to anyone else.
Whether you’re a homemaker, a working parent or single household – putting off your own wellbeing results in burnout and fatigue and exhaustion – which can in turn lead to physical ailments too.
Moral of the story? Make self-care a priority!
Here are 5 ways to improve your wellbeing without it feeling like a chore.
Social connection is one of the ‘5 Pillars of Wellbeing’ and has been proven to have a massive impact on our health and wellbeing.
Sometimes though, a full calendar and too much socialising can make us feel drained and can lead to feelings of guilt and resentment.
A great way of getting that connection, without overwhelming yourself is by doing a shared activity at home with your immediate family.
Instead of slumping on the sofa watching mindless television all night, why not have a family games night?
We love playing Monopoly as a family and my husband is trying (and failing) to teach me to play chess.
Not a fan of board games? Try an app or online game.
My husband and I like to print out the Daily Sudoku puzzle and see who can complete all 4 puzzles first.
“I don’t have time to relax” – One of my own personal favourite phrases.
But seriously, skip over the rushed 3 minute showers and take some time for a long soak in the bath – even if just once a week.
Not a fan of a bath? Have a lie down and listen to some music… or even just enjoy the silence.
Check in with yourself during the day – unclench your jaw, check your posture, have a drink of water.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply for a minute or two.
They sound like silly little things, but they’re things that we neglect and can make the world of difference.
In this ‘busy-ness’ age, it’s almost ingrained in us to constantly feel productive.
But sometimes, doing nothing is just the nourishment our body and mind needs.
Train Your Brain
Since having my children and staying at home full time, there are often times where I can almost feel my intelligence melting away – days spent watching cartoons and playing preschool games has me questioning whether I’d actually be able to do my old job again! – I’m only joking… but if you’re a stay at home mum, I’m sure you can relate.
One thing I do like to do to keep the ol’ cogs turning is logic puzzles. I mentioned earlier that one activity I personally like to do is a Sudoku puzzle… but did you know playing such games are actually proven to be beneficial to your cognitive function?
Research shows that brain training games have been proven to make a “major impact on cognitive function.” As you play brain games that involve critical thinking, logic, and creativity, your brain is adapting and rewiring itself to improve its performance. Source
You don’t have to do Sudoku – there are lots of other puzzles you can try.
I also like to get involved in Pub Quizzes from time to time – great for challenging your brain and ticking that connection box.
Don’t worry – I’m not going to preach 5am start and sweaty gym workouts if that’s not your bag.
But physical activity is really important as I’m sure we all know.
Again, it’s something that falls off our list of priorities because we ‘just don’t have time’.
But it’s actually easier to squeeze in some activity than you might think.
Some ways that I am personally adding more activity into my days:
- Leaving the car at home and walking the school run twice a day – this gives me 8,000 of my recommended 10,000 steps per day before I’ve even started.
- Sweeping or vacuuming at least once a day – honestly? My home needs it, and the half hour is takes to do it burns more calories than you might think. It also means that my house feels cleaner which alleviates the stress I feel about mess. Win-win
- Getting outside and taking part in play with my children rather than supervising from the sidelines.
- Doing 20 minutes of Yoga – it helps me feel more relaxed and one unexpected benefit is my eldest joining in – so I’m unconsciously promoting healthy habits to the children as well.
I suppose this is similar to my point above about relaxation.
But quite often, I can find that my mind runs away with me when I try to relax – which is the opposite of what we are trying to achieve!
If you too have a busy brain and can’t just soak in the bath without mentally making tomorrow’s To Do list, then you need to find an activity that keeps your mind busy – but the kind of mindless busy-ness that helps us switch off from real life.
What do I mean by this? Well a relaxation activity that gives your body physical rest, but occupies too much brain space for overthinking and thoughts about what you ‘should’ be doing.
For example, you could try reading a book. Once you’re engrossed in a good fictional story, your mind paints the picture of what you’re reading and therefore there’s no space for the ‘I’m not being productive enough’ thoughts.
If you don’t like reading, again you could try playing a game.
Instead of something challenging like sudoku or logic puzzles, you could just play a good old fashioned card game like Solitaire.
Hopefully this post has helped you to reframe the importance of your own wellbeing as a ‘must do’ rather than a ‘if I get chance’.
I hope it’s also given you some ideas of how you can make your wellbeing fun, rather than something else you have to do.
The less of a chore something is, the more likely we are to keep doing it.