Everywhere we look these days, there is something or someone promoting self care. Regular, every day products like body wash and make up to fashion, weight loss programs and even vacations are now being marketed as “self care.” It kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? What if we could practice self care by doing less instead of more? Because self care isn’t about having all the right products to look and feel our best. It’s about prioritizing ourselves. And ultimately, less IS more.
But before we can practice self care by doing less…
we have to change our way of thinking. We’ve been programmed to believe that we need to be “on” all the time. We need to stay one step ahead, be competitive, ambitious, work hard and push our limits. While all of theses things are certainly true, we forget that we also need balance. We need to be able to turn it “off” sometimes. We need to rest, recharge, relax. We need to be okay with doing nothing.
This can be especially hard for moms. If we don’t do all the things, we feel guilty. That guilt eats away at us and it does more harm than good. So the first step to practice self care by doing less is to accept that less is not bad. It doesn’t make us lazy or a bad mom. It doesn’t make us procrastinators or slackers. Instead, doing less helps us to clear our minds and rest our bodies so that when it is time to do. all. the. things, we can do them better.
Do Less in the Shower
Some days, I take a long, hot shower with luxurious scented body wash, a charcoal face mask and eucalyptus shower steamers. I deep condition my hair, shave my legs, exfoliate my skin and massage my cuticles. Other days, all of that sounds so very exhausting.
But being in water has amazing benefits on those days when our mental health is ravaged by anxiety or depression. So instead of putting off the shower for another day, practice self care by doing less in the shower. Just stand there under the water. Don’t shampoo or condition your hair. Don’t shave or scrub or massage or exfoliate. Just let the water wash everything away.
You can even sit in the tub under the shower, or on a bench or shower safe chair. Try showering while lying down in the bathtub. There are no rules that say you have to shower a certain way. Just get in, turn on the water and do nothing until you’re ready to get out.
Do you ever feel like you’re a full time personal chef for a family of picky eaters? If it’s stressing you out, then practice self care by doing less cooking. This could mean ordering pizza and not feeling guilty about it. Maybe it’s taking one day to cook for the entire week. Order a food delivery box, try eating raw or living off leftovers for a few days. Cereal for dinner? The kids would love it! Making healthy, gourmet meals for your family is not a requirement for being a good mom.
Clean The House Less
I’m not saying you have to live like a slob, because sometimes clutter can really destroy our mental health. I’m just saying to do less. Try optimizing your home so that everyone can help to keep it tidy. Keep cleaning products underneath each bathroom in your house so that it feels like less of chore. Change up your cleaning routine. If you feel like you clean everyday, switch to once a week or vice versa and do a little bit each day. Hire someone to clean your house for you. Make a cleaning schedule so that you can keep better track of how often things are being cleaned. Or just don’t clean and leave the mess for another day. That’s self care too.
Another way to practice self care is by doing less scrolling on our screens. The internet is a fantastic tool but it’s all too easy to get lost down a rabbit hole of Instagram reels or Pinterest photos. The more ideas we see, the more things we want to do. Then we feel like we’re falling behind on the trends and our homes aren’t pretty enough, our closet isn’t fashionable enough or our hair isn’t styled right. So do less of that. If you’re not ready to give it up, then focus on learning good things from the internet instead of comparing ourselves to every fashion vlogger or crafty mom out there.
Sometimes self care is a night out with friends and other days self care means doing less socializing. If you have an event coming up on your calendar that you are dreading or anxious about, cancel it. It’s okay! Often, we get so caught up in the politeness and manners and certain way that we are supposed to act around others, that we don’t see how much it affects our mental health. Appointments can all be rescheduled. Friends and family will understand. Don’t overbook yourself because you feel like you need to keep busy all the time.
Spend Less Money
Financial worries can weigh heavily on our minds. Therefore, we can practice self care by making an effort to do less shopping and spend less money. Instead of resorting to “retail therapy” as a form of self care, try to do the opposite and save the money. Buying less things also means less clutter in our homes, which is great for our mental health. It always feels easier said than done, but seeing our savings account grow is a big mood booster. Plus, knowing we have money set aside for emergencies will reduce stress levels and anxiety.
Find Easier Alternatives to Exercise
Advanced spin class is a lot for anyone, never mind an already tired mom. Moving your body doesn’t have to be a chore that you dread or feel pressured into. There are much more relaxing and less intensive ways to exercise, that are still a great way to practice self care. Instead of waking up at 5 am for that 2 mile run, try taking a leisurely stroll in the park. Swimming, walking, biking with the kids, even some meditative yoga are less intensive and time consuming than a visit to the gym.
Self care, like all areas of life, is about balance. There will be days when you need some intense self care. Focusing on a particular trigger or problem area can mean you’re working out more or putting more effort into your diet and meal planning. But if it starts to become a chore, you’re less likely to do it. Try to find some middle ground so that sometimes you can practice self care by doing less, and sometimes by doing more.