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It never fails. Just when being a mom couldn’t get any tougher, you need a sick day.
Not just some “Oh hey! I think I need a day to myself so someone else needs to take over” kind of day. An actual sick day. I never really noticed growing up that my mom never seemed to take a sick day (even if I wish she had so dad could spoil us). It seemed like mom was always on duty, rain or shine, just like the U. S. Post Office.
Recently, I’ve needed several of these ever elusive sick days. As a teacher, I do my best to make doc appointments after school hours and on days off. Lately, however, it feels like I’ve spent more time with the doctor than my own family. It began in December with my grand idea to take care of things like well-woman appointments and such before the year ended and my insurance deductible reset.
Needless to say, I started an avalanche of medical visits, already met my deductible, and it is only March! Since then, I have had 3 mammograms, 1 breast biopsy, period issues, anemia, a broken toe (still not healed), off the chart blood pressure, anxiety, weight gain, migraines, and a big dose of guilt.
“I’M THE MOM, I AM NOT SUPPOSED TO GET SICK!”
Whew, it felt good to get all that out! So, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. What is a mom supposed to do when she gets sick? It’s not like you can just call in sick and have your job, your kids, and your household run themselves. Hey. now that would be nice every now and then, wouldn’t it?! Well, we have to plan for it. Ummmm, what?! How do we plan for a sick day?
First, and I know this sounds selfish, you MUST take care of yourself before you get sick. Here are nine ways you can do just that and avoid having to (or at least wishing you could) call in sick. Hey, let’s face it, ain’t NO MOM got time for that!
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is number one when it comes to good health. In our overworked, overstimulated, 24/7 hectic lives most of us are among the walking dead. We are sleep deprived! Strive to get 7-9 hours each day. Keep your circadian rhythm cycle on track by getting up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Most importantly, turn off ALL electronics 20-30 minutes before you want to be asleep. Blue light prevents our bodies from generating sleep-inducing hormones. These days with all the electronics in every room, I find I can only fall asleep and stay that way, by using a sleep mask.
- Exercise. Along with eating right and getting enough sleep, this one is a no-brainer. Aim for 20-30 minutes minimum and 45-60 mins max each day. Don’t exercise too close to bedtime though, you risk perking back up!
- Eat Right. Regardless of what food philosophy you subscribe to, eating right rounds out the trifecta of good health habits. Gut health and food pharmacology experts will tell you that food is the purest form of medicine. Indulge in plenty of plant-based foods and lean meats. No one EVER became overweight from eating too much broccoli. If nothing else, make sure you limit sodas, sugar, and highly processed foods. Cutting out these items at least 2-3 days per week can set you on your way to better health.
- Get the Right Supplements. Vit D, Iron, B-Complex, and Calcium to name a few. Where ever you look there is a mountain of information and advertisements for all kinds of supplements. You name it, there is a supplement for it. A good multi-vitamin is enough for most people and not everyone even needs supplements. For me personally, I am chronically anemic, low in Vit D, and have the energy of a sloth. I base my supplement intake on current research and my latest blood work. When in doubt always check with your physician and seek out the highest quality supplements you can afford.
- Take a Timeout. Yes, you read that right, a timeout. I don’t know about you, but I am at around another human being 24/7. I love my husband, my children, and my students, but sometimes mommy really just needs a timeout. It is so easy to get frustrated when you are always “ON”. I knew a lady once who came home every day and was strictly off-limits to her entire household for about 20 mins. This gave her the time she needed to change clothes, wash off the day’s makeup, sit in a quiet room, etc. without anyone else present. It was just her and her alone. She emerged refreshed and ready to be the nurturing, fun mom and wife everyone was expecting. As Spring Break is coming to a close I think I need to pencil in a daily timeout for myself too!
- LAUGH. Really laugh. Each of us has our own sense of humor, but whatever it is, find a way to embrace it. Looking at memes, reading jokes, watching silly videos, or whatever tickles your funny bone is a great way to bust out some deep belly laughs. Laughing is reported to increase a person’s immune system, decrease stress hormones, improve blood oxygenation and lower blood pressure among other benefits. Besides all that, who doesn’t love to laugh? Too bad we can’t all break into song and float to the ceiling like Michael and Jane in Mary Poppins.
- Play. This is the hardest one for me. I love to play but I just can’t push aside all the things weighing me down. I miss the days of being carefree and just playing with my barbies for hours, or playing outside with my friends, or even playing board games. We all need playtime. It is regenerative and boosts creativity. If you have kids, follow their lead. Let your child choose a game or decide what to do for an afternoon. No matter there are always chores to do and bills to pay. One afternoon of carefree playtime a few times a month is more precious than all the gold in the world.
- Learn Something New. This is one of my favs. I love to learn new things. I am just a curious person by nature I suppose. I love trying a new art project, a new DIY technique, or a new recipe. I have definitely been accused on more than one occasion of being a jack, I mean Jill, of all trades. Some of my best afternoons have been spent at those wine painting studios, in my garden, or at home depot. In fact, this past November I learned how to repipe a section of my house with PEX. Bye-bye galvanized pipe! I know I’m weird but I can’t help it. I just want to learn as much as I can about so many different things. To me, it keeps life interesting!
- Go outside. Remember when we were little (for those of us who didn’t grow up in the technology age) and our moms always told us to go outside and play? Mom knew best. Just being outside gives a person exponential health benefits. Fresh air, sunshine (or moonlight), and sounds of nature are so much better than any movie or TV show. I know, hard to believe. Just a 20 minute or so walk outside in nature provides a reduction in stress hormones and increases a person’s mental state and overall wellbeing. Take the kids and the dog if you must, but go outside! Especially if you are low in Vitamin D.
So, there you have it. Nine ways to practice self-care. You are important! You mean so much to so many people! Make sure you take care of yourself because you are worth it!