By Lynsey Fraser
Health and Fitness Professional/Personal Trainer
I’m too fat to wear this. Did the kids eat enough this morning? Am I behind on my deadline? I think I should be further ahead than this. I should go to the gym more. Can I afford to buy that? Am I doing the right thing?
You will never meet a tougher critic than a woman reviewing herself. We place more pressure and higher expectations on ourselves than anyone around us. But why do we do it? Why do we bend over backwards to accommodate everyone else in our lives but don’t allow ourselves the same forgiveness? Why do we judge ourselves so harshly but allow others so much freedom? We create most of the pressure we feel and the stress is building in so many women. Is this you?
Tips to relieve the pressure
Stop agreeing to do things you don’t want to do.
Say that your sister has asked you to watch her kids again on the only commitment free night you have had in three weeks. You don’t want to let your sister down but you’re exhausted and really just need a night off. It’s okay to say no (now we don’t mean say no if it’s an emergency or if she really, really needs help). There does come a point, though, when you need to make time for yourself and mental health a priority. We are too quick to think this is selfish and that we should be trying to help out, but we also need the energy to be a good mum, wife, sister, colleague (and more)! Saying ‘no’ sometimes will not make us bad people; it shows we can respect ourselves enough to understand our own needs too.
Stop speaking so harshly to you.
Have you ever been getting ready to go out somewhere and felt unhappy with how you look? Ever make those ‘little comments’ about how you look, maybe even make jokes with your kids about how fat mummy looks, or mock yourself with your partner? Think of all the negative thoughts and things you say to yourself – and now think of your child thinking this way about themself! You probably wouldn’t stand for it. You also wouldn’t allow a stranger to mock your children, so why is it okay to mock yourself? Speak kindly to yourself. Being a role model for your kids starts with you and how you treat yourself – so be nice.
We cannot add an extra hour to the day; we cannot change the fact that life will be busy and unpredictable at times or that the people around us will lean on us for time, effort and support. But we can take some of the pressure off ourselves by prioritising our day. Keep a diary or journal handy and ensure to prioritise fitness, nourishing food and positive affirmations in your daily schedule. Fit the ‘to do’ items on your list around that. While you might feel you’re putting your children last, we disagree. Being a great mum starts with being healthy and kind to yourself. It’s really hard to give 100% to your children if you are not in the best possible shape you can be – in mind, body and spirit!
Get enough sleep!
While the coveted 7 to 9 hours of sleep eludes so many mums, there comes a time when we really need to make sure we get as much as we can. This can be really tough. We get it. Sleepless nights with a baby, up nursing a sick toddler, staying up late after kids’ homework to finish tasks due for the next morning – it’s really tough! But try to get into bed a little sooner, and be mindful not to procrastinate by watching a mindless TV show. During the tough times where sleep is hard to find you may have to ‘skip’ something else to make sure you hop into bed that little bit sooner.
We largely create the pressure we’re under and we can also take some of that pressure off. We do self-criticism well. So start by taking a little time back for you and speak kindly to yourself – you will only be happier and healthier for it.