How To Practice Self Care By Doing Less

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.

How To Practice Self Care By Doing Less
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that we only recommend products that we love from companies that we trust. Furthermore, we are not medical professionals and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. Always speak to your doctor if you have concerns about your mental or physical health.
How To Practice Self Care By Doing Less
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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.

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Don’t Cook

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.

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Avoid Scrolling

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.

Cancel Plans

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.  

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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. 

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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.


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What Does Your Existing Postpartum Depression Self Care Routine Consist Of?

8. What does your existing postpartum depression self care routine consist of?

Self Care for Postpartum Depresion Self Care for Postpartum Depresion

I need ample amounts of alone time, especially at the end of the day. As a stay at home mom of three kids, it gets very draining and I feel like if I don’t get in a little me time before bed it’s an endless cycle. My husband knows to give me space after the kids go to bed. I just need to not be “needed” for an hour or two. I also do yoga in the mornings and have incorporated aromatherapy into my home.  – Vanessa

As of the past month my postpartum depression has been getting better because I make self care a priority. I wake up at 6 am so I can make MYSELF ready for the day (hair, makeup, clothes etc), and do my daily devotions and bible reading. I try to not get lost on social media for hours and get jealous of everyone’s “perfect” life. I shower. Every day! I listen to self development books on audible. I just my MYSELF a PRIORITY!! – Anonymous

Trying to grab sleep whenever I can, even if it’s just 30 mins whilst my husband plays with our child in the other room. I might not actually sleep but I can rest. I go to the gym as often as I can as it has an instant effect on my anxiety- it just disappears for a little while. I try to eat properly and not miss meals I give myself permission to cancel anything I feel is too much, e.g. social engagements. I try to avoid reading/watching anything even remotely to do with child deaths and abuse. It triggers me so quickly it’s not worth it. – Alexandra

Routine!!! Wake up healthy breakfast medication, staying organize and busy with work and kids, I take time for myself to paint my nails or to make a certain snack I enjoy or just a movie. – Amber 

Letting someone else take care of my son for a little bit and either playing a video game, taking a long shower, napping or going to Target by myself. – Anonymous

I do keep up with my psychiatrist but I guess I don’t really have a routine right now. – Nicole

Essential oils, breathing, medication, reading and exercise. – Anonymous

Slow wean off of the drugs. CBT. – Brittany

A lot of uplifting and telling myself I’m a good mom and surrounding myself by people that love me. – Jodi

Sleep, an hour a day for a TV show.   – Anonymous

Talking about my feelings and tons of support from friends. – Ashley G.

Make sure I’m sleeping well and continuing to take Citalipram to combat anxiety. – Anonymous

Taking my meds, seeing my counselor, exercising, eating well, and taking time for myself when needed. – Amanda

Private alone time to recharge, controlled breathing, naps. – Anonymous

I just had my second baby two months ago and I was put back on medication to take precaution. I made sure to get plenty of sleep this time around and I did not breastfeed. – Katy 

Staying active in therapy and with medication. Journaling feelings. Good hygiene. – Samantha

I believe in self motivation, it helps a lot. When I feel down I start to point out all the good that I have done that day and I see how happy my babies are and how happy my husband is and for me that is all I need. – Anonymous

Working out and oils. Taking time to better my self. My son will not know I am talking more time to my self when he is 3 months old. I want to be the best mom once he starts remembering. – Melissa

Taking herbal supplements and some anxiety meds, watching my self talk, getting out, getting time to myself.  – Marcella

Therapy, yoga, sleep when I can. – Anonymous

Showers and naps anytime I need. – Emily

Make sure I get enough sleep. Taking time for myself. Self-reflecting. – Lorena from Motherhood Unfiltered 

Taking 50 MG of Zoloft a day. – Chelsea

I am focusing on me more. I realize I can just focus on my husband and baby. I have a few medical conditions, so I am now getting monthly massages, chiropractor visits, not to mention what I do daily to take care of myself. – Kathryn

Still on meds. – Anonymous

Hair and teeth don’t always get brushed, I tend to forget deodorant never get dressed up just wear comfy baggy clothes. – Krista

I’m out of it now. Right now self care is light therapy, exercise and outdoor time, crafts. – Karen from Pregnancy and Postpartum Mental Health of Lancaster County

I continue to take my meds daily, but am feeling considerably more stable now, with only a few bad days here and there throughout the month. My “self-care” is really more like a set of rules I’ve given myself. I never go more than 48 hours without showering. I force myself to eat when my toddler eats. I signed up for volunteer activities so I am out and about around other adults on a regular basis. I’ve started telling my friends what are triggers for me, so we can work around those without it being an issue (ex. talking on the phone. On my bad days I cannot for the life of me answer the telephone. I have no idea why). And Saturday’s are my day. My husband takes the baby, and I spend the entire day at a coffee shop with my noise-canceling headphones. – Leah Elizabeth from Lottie & Me

Taking my meds and vitamins and I get a 2 hour bathroom time for just a hot soaking bubble bath. – Jessica

Clean eating, for starters. I determined that eating sugar or dairy made me have almost immediate anxiety. Tracking my cycle is also a huge part of my self care. Staying abreast of my hormonal changes is key. Daily showers and restful sleep are also important to me—that means a nice hot cup of lavender tea and luxurious pajamas at 10:00 pm. And, of course, I move my body. Every day. I can’t say that I “work out” but I do something to get my heart rate up and follow with a healthy dose of ice water. – Amanda from Mom Like Me

Well I ordered the pills and I’m waiting for them to come in. I try to sleep in when my hubby is home and try to go out by myself without the kids once a week. I work out as many times as I can find a babysitter a week. We don’t live close to family so it’s hard to get support. – Anonymous

Planning, journaling also stamping. – Jacqueline from Planning in the Deep

Taking my medicine and if that doesn’t help enough I will go to therapy.– Haylie

Nothing really. I never even got to sit down never mind “care” for myself during that time. – Crystal from Heart and Home Doula

Making time to keep up with my treatment, being consistent with my medication, finding time for myself everyday .– Anonymous

Medication, sufficient sleep. – Anonymous

Meditating, reminding myself my kids are little and I want to give them the best childhood and not always be irritated when they do natural child behavior like make mess or cry. Having time for myself. Reaching out when I need help. – Anonymous

Routine exercise, time to myself every week, regular appointments with my therapist, healthy eating, plenty of sleep (my husband will watch the baby some nights to give me a full night of sleep). – Anonymous

I have instituted a family schedule giving my husband a defined list of tasks and chores he MUST complete as well as giving me time to shower and get dressed every morning and take the kids off my hands for at least an hour a day every afternoon. I also have a babysitting schedule for my parents and in-laws and force myself to sit down and watch TV instead of doing work or chores during my non-kid time. – Eda

Resting when my body tells me, getting outside a little everyday, essential oils for mood and pain. – Anonymous

I am currently pregnant with my fourth child after remarrying. My youngest is 3 1/2. I have a good support system of moms who have struggled and I can be honest with. I am honest with my doctors and have a doula. I talk to a therapist and I rest when I need it. – Kathleen

I have no self care routine still, when I can I get away to the grocery store etc. – Stephanie

Now I make sure to have time alone. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed I look at my son and express gratitude for getting to be in my son’s life and watch him grow. He is so amazing and I have the capacity for more love than I knew possible. -Yonat from Embodied Therapy Santa Rosa

Trying to maintain my hygiene. Making the bed every morning. Getting dressed. Opening the blinds. – Beth


Postpartum Depression Triggers Postpartum Depression Triggers

We often underestimate the power of self-care.

For women with postpartum depression, it’s too easy to fall into a “funk” and start ignoring basic tasks like brushing our teeth or making the bed.  We may not see it as a big deal at the time but it truly has an impact on our mental health.  When we neglect ourselves, our brain gets the message that we are not as important.  Over time, our brains reprogram themselves to prioritize our needs less and less and it becomes harder to change that way of thought.  

What can we do to change this?

Stop thinking of self care as being selfish.  Yes, you are a mother now and there are children who depend on you but that doesn’t mean that you have to neglect yourself in order to take care of them.  Seek a way to balance how much time you spend taking care of yourself vs. your other responsibilities.  When it comes to self care, there are so many different options and levels of intensity.  Start by getting more sleep or taking a shower regularly.  Eventually you can create a whole list of things you’d like to do for yourself.  Treating ourselves as important will program our minds to believe it. 


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How to Create a Self-Care Routine as a SAHM

Fitting in a self-care routine for stay-at-home moms may sound easy to do with all the time spent at home…

But trying to find the time and space to do it in is where the challenge lies.  Stay at home moms very rarely have any time throughout the day where their kids are not following them around or in need of something.  Even nap time presents moms with the decision of either getting caught up on work or taking time for themselves.

Developing a self-care routine is so important for stay at home moms.  It’s a way to stay positive and energized throughout the day.  Taking care of ourselves should be as much of a priority as taking care of the children, the household, or the finances.  It may take some time to figure out how to create a self-care routine that works for you.

Here are some tips on building the essential self-care routine for stay at home moms.

(Plus – download a free workbook to help you put these tips into action!)

How To Create A Self Care Routine As A SAHM
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
How To Create A Self Care Routine As A SAHM

Eliminate the Guilt

Feeling guilty about taking care of yourself is normal for stay at home moms.  We are inclined to put others first and take care of their needs, pushing our own to the bottom of the list.  We keep thinking that we’ll start our self-care routine once everyone and everything else is taken care of.  But no matter how much we do in a day, there is always something else that needs to be done.  We need to make ourselves a priority.  It can be hard to feel worthy enough, especially for moms battling postpartum depression.

The best way to avoid feeling guilty about time for yourself is to think of it as something that we are also doing for our loved ones. 

  • Following a daily self-care routine means that we will be happier and healthier. 
  • We will be more pleasant to be around, more present in the moment and less inclined to be frustrated and moody at the end of the day. 
  • We are setting excellent examples for our children by taking care of and respecting ourselves.

In order to eliminate the guilt associated with self-care, you need to answer Why, Who and What:

WHY do you need a regular self-care routine?  Are your mood swings out of control? Do you feel exhausted and overwhelmed all the time?  Is there a health concern you want to focus on?

WHO you are doing this for?  In addition to yourself, what else is important in your life?  Do you want to set a good example for your children?  Do you want to be a better partner in your relationship?  Is your work or family life suffering?

WHAT is your ultimate goal?  Do you want to be happier?  Healthier?  Have more energy?  Are you struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety?  Are you trying to wean off of medications that you’re taking?

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Timing is Everything

Finding the time to fit in a self-care routine is probably the biggest obstacle for a stay at home mom.  Usually we are surrounded by children from the time we get up in the morning until they go to bed, at which time we are too exhausted to do anything else.  There are a few moments throughout the day when a stay at home mom could choose to fit in her self-care.

The first step is identifying the changes in your mood throughout the day.  Try keeping track of your moods on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to see how and when they fluctuate.  Often, the winter months can be worse for our moods, especially if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder.  To make it easier, you can download a printable mood tracker from Shine Sheets.

Early in the morning

If you’re a morning person, this could work for you.  Getting up early before everyone else is up and taking a nice, hot shower in peace sounds amazing.  Drinking an entire cup of coffee and eating a warm breakfast while watching the sun rise is a great way to start the day.

Not so early in the morning

But if you’re not a morning person, then the idea of sacrificing those last few moments of sleep are a crime against humanity.  There’s nothing wrong with fitting in that shower and coffee when you get up in the morning, it just means that your children will probably also be awake and ready to start their day at the same time.  Try holding them off by offering them a small snack, a sippy cup of milk and a half-hour show to buy you some time.

Lunchtime

Make it a point to eat lunch together.  Don’t feed the kids and expect to grab something later because later may never come.  Eat when the kids eat and make yourself something healthy, don’t just pick at their leftovers.

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Nap time

If this is still a thing at your house, then congratulations!  It hasn’t existed at my house for three years and I miss it so much.  Nap time is the perfect time for fitting in a self-care routine.  Don’t do the dishes or laundry or mop the floors…  Rest.

Binge watch Netflix or read a few chapters in that book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand. Don’t think of it as “being lazy.” Escaping into an imaginary world, whether it’s through the pages of a book or the television, is a way to relax your brain for a little while.  You need to shut that thing off sometimes otherwise it overheats and doesn’t work as well.

When your shift is over

If your day has been an overly exhausting one, there’s no harm in asking for help.  Calling in reinforcements just so you can have some time to yourself is not being selfish.  It’s something that is essential to your well being and mental health.  If there is a time when your spouse is home to watch the kids, of if you have family or a friend who can watch the kids for an hour – then take it!

After bedtime

Once the kids are in bed, if you’re like me, you have no energy left for self-care.  (Is sleep training stressing you out?  Check out this post. But you’d be surprised how easy it is to fit it in.  A hot shower before bed will help you sleep better.  Turning on an essential oil diffuser in your bedroom as you go to sleep will help to calm your mind and relax you after a long day.  A few simple yoga stretches or meditation are perfect to incorporate in your self-care routine at bedtime.

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Figure Out What Works

Your self-care routine should consist of things that specifically work for you.  Sure, yoga is great but if it’s not your thing, then forcing yourself to do it isn’t going to help you relax.  Unfortunately, there is no one-size fits all self-care routine, so this is something you’re going to have to figure out for yourself.

Categorize Your Favorite Activities

Things that make you feel energized should be scheduled for the beginning of your day.  Maybe it’s going for a walk or a run, listening to your favorite music or podcast, or taking a refreshing shower.

Save the things that make you feel relaxed for your evening self-care routine.  Maybe you prefer a hot shower or bath before bed. Or having a warm cup of tea and watching the sunset.  Guided meditation is another great way to calm the mind before bed.

List off all the things that make you feel happy and try to include them throughout your day.  These could be things such as cooking or baking, gardening, crafting, chatting with a friend or anything else that you love to do.

Consider things you do for yourself all year round.  Do you need a monthly trip to the salon?  Or a spa day each year on your birthday?  If summer is around the corner, schedule yourself a pedicure.  Cold weather coming? Prepare for a round of the winter blues.  Don’t put off these important tasks, schedule them today!

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Make a Bucket List

Taking care of yourself doesn’t have to be tedious and boring.  While it’s good to have a regular routine in place, there are sure to be things that you could only dream of doing.

Make a list of things that you would love to be able to do for yourself SOMEDAY.  And dream big…  It could be something like taking a vacation somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, meeting a celebrity you idolize or attending the concert of your favorite artist.  It’s alright if some things on your self-care bucket list are unrealistic, but having them written down will keep you motivated and inspired to live your best life.

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Schedule It

Thinking about a self-care routine is a great first step.  But writing it down and scheduling it makes it real and harder to avoid.  Schedule in your self-care on the calendar or set a reminder in your phone.  Your self-care appointments should be handled with just as much importance as medical appointments, meetings or sports practices.  Adding it to a calendar lets everyone else know that you plan to make yourself a priority too.

If for some reason, you didn’t get a chance to fit in your self-care, don’t ignore it.  Re-schedule it for another time.  If you are strict about keeping up with your self-care routine, then the rest of your family will follow suit.

Try signing up for a monthly self-care subscription box.

Having a box delivered to your door is like a regular reminder to take care of yourself.  Plus, the anticipation of getting a box full of goodies is something to look forward to each month and can get you excited about self-care. 

Check out these popular favorites:

Download this FREE Self-Care Workbook to help you create a working self-care routine.
My Self Care Workbook - A Free Printable PDF
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Once you’ve incorporated a regular self-care routine into your life, you should be able to see the difference it makes.  Over time, taking a few minutes each day to do something just for you won’t seem so foreign, both to yourself and to your children.  They will learn that mom’s going to take that shower and then she will feel happier.

Mothers with postpartum depression or anxiety should especially focus on maintaining a proper self-care routine.  It’s a great way to keep symptoms under control, regardless of what other form of treatment we are seeking.  While it might seem impossible to make lists of things that bring joy, mothers with postpartum depression can focus on small things and work their way up.

Download a Free Self Care Workbook

How to Create a Self-Care Routine as a Stay-At-Home Mom