Fatigue is a common concern I see in my practice, especially in new moms and caregivers. When you’re raising a young family, you’re often leading a very busy lifestyle, with less than ideal sleep quality and quantity, so a certain amount of fatigue is expected! The best thing you can do for yourself is acknowledge the amount of work you’re doing for your family and allow yourself time for self care. This can be challenging for new moms but taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do for the health and happiness of your family. Read on for 7 tips to take care of yourself and improve your energy levels:
1. Eat a healthy diet.
Have you heard of the healthy plate? It is my favourite way to think about healthy eating. Focus on half your plate being fruits and vegetables, a quarter of your plate whole grains and a quarter protein. I’ve seen a lot of young families with diets focusing too heavily on carbohydrates, which causes blood sugar spikes and crashes, and often contributes to low energy throughout the day. Add protein to your meals and snacks and you’ll notice how it sustains your energy for longer periods of time. The healthy plate is the perfect way for children to be eating as well. Save time by preparing one meal for yourself and your children, instead of two separate meals. There is no reason your children need to eat something different than you (although reality doesn't always equate with that theory!).
2. Take your vitamins
Even if you’re eating a healthy diet, certain nutritional supplements can further support your health. I highly recommended continuing your prenatal vitamin in the postpartum period (and until you stop breastfeeding) to ensure you’re getting all of your essential vitamins and minerals. Also, you can consider B vitamins to improve energy levels and mood, magnesium and zinc to support healthy hormonal balance, omega-3 fatty acids for mood, and probiotics for overall health. These are very general suggestions so make sure you talk to your naturopath or other healthcare provider before starting any new supplements. Once you’ve been prescribed a supplement plan, make sure you stick to it.
3. Optimize your sleep quality
We want to make sure that when you do have time to sleep, it is the best possible sleep. Have you heard of sleep hygiene? It encompasses a variety of different practices and habits that are important for getting a good night’s sleep.
Here are 5 Simple Sleep Hygiene Tips:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – your body loves routine!
- Keep the bedroom as dark as possible (or wear a sleep mask if a dark bedroom isn’t possible)
- Stay away from electronics for 30-60 minutes before bed
- Enjoy a relaxing bedtime routine, such as a warm bath, a calming cup of tea, and reading a good book
- Journal before bed to decompress and get rid of anxious thoughts that might keep you up
Obviously it can be a challenge to optimize your quality of sleep when you're breastfeeding at all hours, and yes, moms are sometimes slaves to their children's sleep patterns. With that said, trying to incorporate some of these techniques as frequently as you're able can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep overall.
4. Move your body
I understand that exercising can be challenging to fit into your already busy lifestyle but the benefits are too great to miss out on. You don’t need to fit hours of exercise into your day, just 5-10 minutes can make a big difference. Check out the 7-minute workout for a quick and easy way to work up a sweat. Find a way to include your kids in your activities because they need exercise too. Take them out for a walk, head to the park and run around with them there, find a mom and baby exercise class, or find a gym that has childcare options. Be creative!
5. Breathe and live in the moment
Spend quality time with your children and appreciate the precious time you have with them. This can be challenging when you’re stressed and overworked. Practicing mindfulness techniques will help you appreciate the present moment and optimize the time you spend with your kids. Mindfulness is our innate ability to be fully present in the moment. To be more mindful, you must look at each experience with curiosity, in a non-judgmental and observant way. This practice will help you listen to your body and your mind and find more positivity and joy in your day-to-day life. The best thing about mindfulness? It is an amazing skill to teach your children as well Check out my Mindfulness March blog post to learn more.
6. Ask for help
Friends and family want to help you out and you should let them. Let them make snacks or meals for your family or take care of your children for an afternoon or evening. Find a mom group in your area to get the social and emotional support of other moms who are also navigating their new roles and responsibilities. Talk to your partner about how they can support you best. Don’t assume that you have to do everything on your own in order to be a great mom.
7. Set reasonable goals
Have you heard of SMART goals? It stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Take the 6 tips you’ve read about so far, and create one goal for each tip. Instead of saying: “I’m going to eat healthier this week”, say “I’m going to add 1 serving of protein to each meal this week”. SMART goals are important because they allow you to actually track your goals and determine whether you are achieving them. You’ll be more likely to keep up with them if you feel successful! Goals can also be created as a family. You can work together to set goals for the day, week, and month. Keeping each other accountable to the goals will make them more achievable for everyone.
My last piece of advice is to find a healthcare team to support you. A naturopathic doctor can assess your current health status and determine if you require additional nutritional support, supplements, or other treatments to optimize your wellbeing. If your fatigue is more extreme than your lifestyle would suggest and you just don’t feel like yourself anymore then it is time to get it checked out and get to the bottom of it. Fatigue can be a sign of an underlying condition, such as a chronic disease, mental health concern, infectious disease, sleep apnea, or cancer. If you’re experiencing new or worsening fatigue without a known cause, it is important to go to your doctor and have a proper assessment done.
Healthy Moms can use their card to receive $25 off an initial consulation with Dr. Emily Casy. Find out more here: https://gohealthymoms.com/dr-emily-casey-nd