Where are you on your daily to-do list? If you're like a lot of moms these days, you probably fall somewhere near the bottom, or perhaps you're not even on the list at all. The thing is, if you want to be able to continue to function at your best, to tackle your to-do list, day after day, tuning into and honoring what you need is absolutely essential.
Let's take a moment to consider the regular maintenance that you extend to the car that you drive. Do you make sure that it is filled up with gas when needed? Do you make arrangements for the oil to be changed on a regular basis? If you car starts making funny noises, do you have someone check it out?
Now, what if you chose to ignore your car's signals, because you were too busy with everything else? Would you expect your car to continue to perform for you? Of course not. But for some reason, we moms expects our bodies to keep going and going, even when we're not providing any regularly scheduled maintenance for them. Should we really be surprised, then, when our bodies stop performing at their best?
Just like your car has signals to communicate its needs (gas gauge, oil light, etc.), our bodies have signals, too. Stop and think about a time when you were feeling stressed, frazzled, run-down, or even experiencing a cold or other symptoms. Chances are there were some moments, over the previous few weeks leading up to this state, when your body asked you to slow down, to rest, to take a break...these are the whispers I'm talking about.
When you don't hear these whispers, eventually your body has to kick it up a notch. This is exactly what used to happen with me. I would end up getting sick, and then I wasn't able to get anything done and I was definitely a lot less pleasant to be around. I convinced myself that I had to do everything and take care of everyone else. Most moms can certainly relate to this.
But when I would think back to the weeks leading up to a cold or whatever I ended up experiencing, I could recall moments when my body whispered to me, requesting that I go to bed instead of staying up late again, asking me to sit still for a few minutes, reminding me that the sugary snack I was reaching for wasn't really going to sustain me. But I didn't listen. I pushed through, again and again. I ignored the signals, and time and time again I would come down with a cold or something worse. This was my body's way of forcing me to rest.
This pattern was repeated so many times in my life. I wasn't keeping up with my body's maintenance plan, but I was still surprised when it would break down. After this happened again and again, I finally got the message: I wasn't paying attention to my body's signals and honoring my own needs. Once I became aware of this pattern, I was then able to make some changes. I'm still a work in progress, but I am definitely more in tune these days with the whispers, so my body no longer has to knock me over the head in order to get my attention!
It hasn't been easy, but the guidelines below have really helped me with this process. I encourage you to give them a try, especially if you're missing the whispers in your own life.
*Offer gratitude on a daily basis for your body. *Acknowledge and appreciate the wisdom that it offers.
*Begin to consciously tune into your body throughout the day. Become more aware of its maintenance needs for sleep, healthy food, exercise, and relaxation.
*Create space in your day so that you can regularly check in with your body and hear what it's saying. *Allow for some slow, quiet time.
*Start to identify your body's communication patterns: does it speak to you with aches and pains, cold symptoms, headaches, knots in your stomach, etc.?
*Realize that it's about more than just physical needs, too. For example, a knot in your stomach might indicate that just having said yes to yet another committee at school was really not in your best interest.
*Pay attention to the whispers and make the changes necessary. (Go to bed earlier, eat a real meal, step away from your computer, start saying no, etc.).
As moms, we serve as important examples for our children. Honoring our bodies and taking time for self-care serves as a model for our kids; they'll be able to learn at an early age how to tune into their own signals and what they can do to honor their needs.
Amy E. Willard offers opportunities for moms to learn to take better care of themselves. Please visit http://www.CourageousMotherhood.com to access a free 5-part e-course entitled: 5 Courageous Shifts to Help You Reconnect with Your Best Self (& Help You Become an even more Amazing Mom).