Self-care for an empathic or highly sensitive mom is a favorite topic of mine since I completely relate to being both an HSP and an empath.
My experience changed drastically when I began practicing consistent self-care. Not the kind of self-care that most people think of, but the kind that grounds & fills the soul.
In this article, I'll be sharing self-care tips and ideas specifically for highly sensitive and empathic moms.
Highly Sensitive Mom Self-Care
Even though any mom could benefit from this post because I believe we all need restorative self-care, I'm writing this especially with highly sensitive & empathic moms in mind because I think, for myself at least, daily down time and self-care is almost crucial for my well-being.
I'm not a good mom if I'm not able to wind down in silence at least once during some part of my day. If you're wondering what makes someone highly sensitive, you can check out this questionnaire.
Here are a few characteristics of being highly sensitive and empathic.
You might be a highly sensitive mom if...
- Loud sounds, bright lights, coarse material and strong smells haunt your soul
- You've got a rich, complex inner life
- You pick up on subtleties in your environment, like people's moods and body language
- It stresses you out to have too many things going on at once
- You find relief when you get a chance to be alone after a stimulating day
- You don't like being observed while doing a task
You might be an empathic mom if...
- You are affected by the energy of others
- You can easily read others
- You are a great listener & communicator
- You find public places to be overwhelming
- You can feel others pain, emotionally & physically
- Others find it easy to confide in you, easy to talk to
- You have a strong interest in your lineage, connectedness, etc
- You are a quiet achiever but strong leader
HSPs are biologically more physically stimulated by things than your average person, and empaths are like sponges when it comes to energy and emotions, picking up on everything around them.
Whether you relate to both or only one of these, self-care is extremely important for you because both types need to release the outside stimuli and connect within to feel grounded, healthy and happy.
It can seriously drain, overwhelm or irritate me if:
- I have a full schedule
- I have to leave the house too many times in one week for social activities
- I'm wearing clothing that isn't soft or doesn't fit well
- I don't get down time to process social experiences
- The kids have tantrums in public because I feel like all eyes are on me
- I'm around loud noises for too long (which is basically the definition of children)
- Too many lights are on in the house
- I have to engage in too much small talk
- I don't take breaks when in crowded places
- I start my day off chaotically
I believe it's crucial that you get down time every day to re-set from all of these type of mom scenarios that happen pretty much daily.
With kids, there is no place to escape sometimes. In order to put on your best mom face, you HAVE to take care of YOU.
When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life. - Jean Shinoda Bolen
Why self-care so important for highly sensitive and empathic moms
Regular self-care is not a luxury that's only afforded to those who have time. EVERYONE has time, and if you think you're too busy to make time, your body will force you to make time later on down the road.
Regular self-care doesn't have to last more than 10 minutes a day, but the benefits of taking that time and using it wisely will have enormous positive impacts for your emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental health.
Benefits of regular self care:
✦ Daily self-care lowers your stress levels, which means a healthier body
✦ Declutters your mind
✦ Resets your emotions
✦ Connects you with yourself on a deep level
✦ Improves your confidence and state of mind
✦ Helps you achieve a state of inner peace easier and more often
People who work out daily or several times a week will say that when they don't work out, they notice such a difference in how their bodies feel.
Well that's how you'll feel after you get into the habit of taking time for yourself every day–when you go a day or two without self-care once you're used to it, you'll feel the mental and emotional clutter start to pile up.
What self-care is not
For some strange reason, there are people who hear the world "self-care" and feel like it's going to be a chore. I can hardly identify with these people because it's truly one of the highlights of my day, but self-care should not be seen as anything close to a chore.
Self-care is not...
- Doing anything you dread
- Doing something just because you feel like it's what you're supposed to do
- An occasional, rare activity
Self-care looks different for everyone. I personally need to write in order to release my thoughts and emotions, but not everyone does. My husband needs to run and do vigorous physical activity to feel stress release, and I definitely don't enjoy either of those things!
What do you love to do?
It's not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and make your happiness a priority. It's necessary. - Mandy Hale
Ideas for self-care for highly sensitive, empathic moms
The possibilities are truly endless. Everyone is unique and has different tastes, desires, and goals. Here are just a few ideas for self-care activities that help to release, ground, re-center and connect:
✦ Read books that help you remember the bigger picture (here's a list of books that have changed my life)
✦ Journal to release pent up emotions, thoughts and feelings
✦ Meditate to let go and connect
✦ Listen to music
✦ Create: write, paint, draw, photograph, play music, sew, carve, etc.
✦ Move: yoga, dance, run, walk, have sex, play a sport, lift weights, hike, climb, garden, etc.
✦ Reset: watch a sunrise/sunset, enjoy a cup of coffee, turn off all electronics, do a guided meditation, write down what you want, think of 10 things you're grateful for, create and repeat affirmations, etc.
✦ Self-love: wear clothes that make you feel good, wear your favorite perfume, eat foods that make you feel good, move your body to feel good, fall in love with yourself, go on a date with yourself, etc. Do things that FEEL GOOD to you.
✦ Ground yourself with essential oils and/or specific crystals that carry the energy you're wanting to bring into your day.
Create a sacred space
I think this is really important for moms with young children especially. Our bodies and space are pretty much extensions to our children in their eyes. They usually like to be with us and on us for much of the day.
And beyond that, highly sensitive and empathic people just need a space of their own that evokes stillness. It's a reprieve from the outside world.
Here's a shot of mine:
It holds my essential oil sprays and roll-on's, a soothing salt lamp, candles, crystals, incense, and in the drawers my journals, self-care worksheets and oracle cards. Click here to read the blog post I wrote about this space.
I've actually been re-decorating my room to accommodate my "mommy tranquility space". For me, a tranquil space has soothing colors, soft lighting, cozy fabrics, a relaxing aroma, and peaceful sounds.
Something living is nice as well–plants are very grounding and simply touching them can help you to re-center yourself.
Sacred space accessories:
✦ Essential oil diffuser (I love diffusing relaxing blends at night)
✦ Succulents or any kind of plant
✦ Comfortable bedding
✦ Inspirational decor
✦ Meditation sounds app: I use and love this one. My settings: relaxation isochronic tone, rain on the roof, & brown noise.
✦ Relaxing music playlist
Create a self-care routine
A self-care routine is really simple: take time out alone to do things you love doing or things that help you re-center. You can spend 10 effective minutes re-centering, a few hours, or any amount of time in between.
What you do during this time is what will make all the difference or not.
Sometimes it's nice to just veg out and scroll through our phones or binge watch tv, but in order to really connect with yourself and see a difference in your emotions and life, I think it's really important to do some type of activity that helps you let go of stress, rather than just ignore it.
Some suggestions for making the most of your self-care time:
✦ Pick a time of the day that works best for you with where you are in motherhood (life with a young baby looks different than life with a preschooler who sleeps through the night, etc).
My kids wake up early and I'm also a night owl, so early mornings don't work for me. I usually do my self-care time at night after my kids are in bed.
✦ Turn off electronics and notifications.
✦ Simplify it. I choose things that are quick yet powerful. If it's a book, I read just a few pages of it every night. If I need to re-center, I fill out a self-care sheet. Shifting your energy doesn't have to take a lot of time, it just takes intention and creativity.
✦ Guided meditations are amazing: I love guided meditations because our minds and bodies don't know the difference between our current reality and the one we're imagining in our heads. You can get instant relief and peace from a guided meditation.
Don't stress out over what you should do, just allow yourself to be drawn to whatever grabs your attention. If you don't like doing something, don't do it.
Once you spend enough time with yourself, you will begin noticing what you're drawn to. Start with what you most need in life.
If you don't know what you want, write down what you don't want, and then the opposite of that. Pick a starting point and then follow the crumbs on that delicious trail.
Here are some of my top posts on self-care that you may find helpful:
Don't forget to connect with me on Instagram because I share a lot of my self-care rituals and routines in my Insta stories.
Do you have a self-care routine? I'd love to hear about it (as well as other moms who are reading here) in the comments below.
Jessica Dimas is the author of Sacred Self-Care for Moms Guide + Worksheet Bundle.