It’s a new year and time for a fresh start. For some, this may mean counting calories, jumping on the latest fad diet bandwagon, or taking advantage of gym specials that promise to transform you into your best self. While no doubt getting your dietary and physical fitness in check will contribute to a happier, healthier you, it’s essential to consider that wellness as a whole goes beyond diet and fitness.

When you’re a caregiver, you’re constantly worrying about the needs of others- their dietary, physical, educational, mental, and emotional needs, but have you ever considered that you also have all of these needs? As an individual, you are also growing, learning, and need to be cared for. Just as much as your little ones need it, you also need downtime, friend time, and ways to stimulate your mind to feel and be your best self. As mothers, we’re continually putting the needs of others above our own, and we often forget that our personal wellness is crucial to those we care for. We are the pillars on which our children stand, and we need to be healthy- physically, mentally, and emotionally to be able to support them. We cannot teach our children to care for themselves well if we don’t show them how, and now is a great time to start and showing your children what good self-care looks like.

Here are a few ways to take care of YOU in the new year:

Make yourself a proper meal. Don’t skip breakfast or settle for the chicken nugget leftovers off of your little one’s plate. You have real dietary needs to keep you optimally functioning, so take your FUEL serious. Make an effort to cook yourself what you need at each meal.

Schedule your check-ups. Whether it’s scheduling that overdue physical, visiting a nutritionist, or checking in with your OB/GYN, make your appointments in advance, keep them, and find out the best ways to care for yourself.

Put YOU into the schedule. Of course, it’s important to keep the family active with different activities, but don’t forget that you also need that time. Take up a hobby, join a club, or block out time to be with friends regularly.

Learn something new. What have you always wanted to learn to do? Carve out the time and do it! There are many fun and inexpensive classes you can take from painting to dancing and everything in between.

Get a massage package. You know that we hold a lot of tension in our muscles. Rubbing that tension out can help you to relax, and because stress/tension is an ongoing fact of adulthood, one session won’t cut it. Explore the different massage packages in your area and commit to spending a little time and money on yourself for a change.

Skip the wine and head to yoga. Masking your physical and mental exhaustion with wine won’t help you mentally. Try a relaxing and stress-relieving yoga session to literally work it all out.

Take a relaxing bath. If you haven’t started this weekly ritual, I encourage you to do so. A relaxing bath before bed can help you to unwind and get a good night’s rest. Double up on the “me” time with a good book.

Get some sleep, lady! Sure, there’s lots to be done once the kids go to bed, but you need the sleep just as much as they do, and your body will thank you for it.

Start a journal. There may be some things that you want to get out, but don’t necessarily want to share. The practice of releasing it from your mind onto paper can help to relieve stress.

10 Celebrate yourself. It’s okay to be an individual and celebrate yourself because you are important, too! Plan that birthday dinner/party celebrating YOU in advance. Create a wish list and allow yourself to be loved by friends and family.

The most important thing to remember is that you deserve just as much love and attention as you give. Taking some time to work on you is not selfish, and you’re not a bad mom. In fact, by caring for yourself, you are ensuring that you will be the best mom you can be. The best part of it all is that your children will learn about proper self-care in the process.

By Pamela V. Miller

This story was originally published in San Antonio Woman Magazine: https://sawoman.com/2020/01/new-year-best-you/