Friday, January 07, 2011

When You Can't Run Away From It All

A major theme of my book (no word yet from the literary agency, by the way, thank you for your well wishes) is mama self-care. You know--the ways in which we full-time at-home moms cope with stress and low moods and loneliness and the like, when we're busy 24/7, or almost that, taking care of everyone else. We all have our own coping devices--or vices?--but the question is, do we actually utilize them appropriately? And do we have enough of them?

I'm still sick, which is really throwing a wrench into my general self-care. And it's been this way since the beginning of November, which REALLY makes things challenging. Because running is my mama self-care. Oh sure, I complain about trying to do it when it's 90 degrees and humid outside in July, or when it's 1 degree above zero in January, but the truth is, I really do love it. Running makes me very, very happy. It could possibly be called the greatest joy of my life, other than my children, who though they are the joys of my life also generate much of the stress I attempt to dissipate every time I go for a run. (Ironic...) Coming home in the evening after a solid, long run out in nature (this is important, too) and knowing I've done something healthy, relaxing, and challenging and can eat a nice big dinner with dessert to boot and still maintain my weight? Well--that's all good, people! LOVE. IT.

But you see, I can't run when I'm sick. So the past few months have been one big up-and-down struggle of trying to run after illness, feeling happy and good, getting sick again quickly, not being able to run, feeling bad, getting a little better, trying to run again, etc. Ugh! So not only do I feel upset because I'm sick, I also feel upset because I'm not getting my mood-enhancing, self-caretaking, good-feeling-generating exercise. Oh! And when you're not running, YOU TEND TO GAIN WEIGHT. Which is also not great for one's mood.

In other words, my self-care strategy of choice for my busy stay-at-home mom life is currently unavailable, and it's messing with me, big-time.

So I'm curious: how do the rest of you mamas take care of yourself amidst the crazy? If it's not running for you, what is it? Because even though I'd much rather be running, I could use some alternatives. And I bet I'm not the only one who could use a refill of ideas in her arsenal of self-care strategies. Plus it's January. If you live in the dark and frigid Upper Midwest like I do, low mood is a way of life at this time of year.

Hit me with your best mama self-care ideas, ladies.


Mnmom said...

Would walking do it for you when you're sick? I desperately need to walk. I can feel it in my very bones. But temps below 10 just flat out make me cranky. It's a Catch 22 for sure.

Rita said...

OK, this may not work for you because it does not involve nature - but my husband and I do The 30 Day Shred video every morning. It's only 20 minutes (perfect for busy schedules) and it's pretty intense (so good for a little adrenaline mood boost).

I also do my housework while listening to books on tape on my ipod. That way I feel like I'm doing something fun (reading!) while doing something not-fun (laundry!). Obviously, I do this while the baby naps... I do NOT put on headphones and ignore my awake children. Although some days I'd like to.

Hang in there, sister... it'll get better soon.

Shannon said...

You people are amusing me with your suggestions to do other exercises. I can't exercise, people! That's the whole point. I mean, I'm so sick I can't exercise. There is no way. But...thank you for your suggestions anyway! ;)

Mary S. said...

Tea. I am a huge believer in the power of tea. Green tea is supposed to be the healthier one, but I like black. Preferably PG Tips (a cheap British brand) with a little skim milk. Make it, hold the warm cup, sit and sip awhile. You can even pour some for the girls -- highly diluted, of course. Hope you feel better soon.