I am part of several “mom” groups on facebook and the consistent theme I keep hearing is how exhausted everyone is. Between playgroups, toilet training, carpool, making breakfast, lunch, dinner, cleaning, nursing, keeping teenagers alive, volunteering, working…(do I really need to continue this list) we assume our exhaustion is normal. I mean who wouldn’t feel exhausted after a day as mom – we have maxed ourselves out and our bodies are beginning to rebel. Literally rebelling – all of those long-term stressors can eventually deplete the nutrients and precursors that we need to produce cortisol and other hormones. Chronic stress will raise your cortisol levels for a while, but eventually your body is unable to continue producing cortisol in such high amounts. At this point there are declines in not only cortisol, but also key hormones and neurotransmitters like aldosterone, testosterone, epinephrine and more.
There is a technical medical term for it – it is called adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue is most common in CEOs, medical students, and moms (yes, MOMS). The symptoms of adrenal fatigue can include chronic exhaustion, general body aches, low libido, salty food cravings, low blood pressure, back pain, and a weakened immune system. Do any of those symptoms sound familiar? Adrenal fatigue occurs with long term stress – our bodies are designed to handle stress for a period of time (like having a newborn), but what we are not designed for is the long term stress and pressure that we put on ourselves for the rest of our mom career.
It is hard to understand what is going on.
……and it is hard to explain to our partners, husbands, friends, mother in laws, and our children. As moms we try and fight through the exhaustion, we try to smile through the body aches. I remember one day driving to work – I had already picked my kids up from soccer, cooked dinner, cleaned the house, fed the dog, oh and slept for a few hours after working a graveyard shift – I am on the freeway and I black out. Luckily, my guardian angel was in super protective mode and I was already halfway on the emergency lane so there was no crash that followed. I blacked out for probably around a minute, I remember waking back up and thinking that this was because I had not eaten……
I was so wrong.
I had depleted my cortisol levels over and over and over again. I was that mom who could work 60 hours a week at her job, make lunches for everyone, ran kids to soccer practice, martial arts, dance, did my own intense work outs, and completed the latest pinterest project. I averaged four hours of sleep at night, and I bragged about how little sleep I needed to anyone who listened. #momgoals here – well until that day that I almost ran into the mack truck after I blacked out on the freeway.
I was exhausted; all of a sudden I went from being able to thrive on four hours of sleep to needing 14 hours of sleep a night. My body was allover fatigued; every day was a chore to get out of bed to even brush my teeth. I thought I was going through depression or had come down with some mysterious illness. Then one day I read Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue book, and I just bawled – cried like a baby. I felt so relieved that I was not crazy, this was something others had gone through and there was a solution. So I dedicated the next six months to taking care of me so that my kids had their mom back – not just a shell of their mom.
Listen up moms!! I am here to tell you that your life does not need to be a pinterest board – it is okay to let the dishes sit in the sink. It is okay to not always have perfect hair or perfectly white teeth – in fact, if your kids clothes do not match then so be it. It is time to take care of YOU! Fact is: if you do not take care of you, then you will struggle to take care of those little people that need you.
Splurge on you.
Your children’s summer camp or extra clothing can get put on the back burner, and you can apply that money towards something that relaxes you on a regular basis – a weekly yoga class on the beach (if you are near Folly Beach then definitely check out Serenity Tree Yoga) or take a long walk or take a hour in the sun to read a book. Just take time for you. This is not selfish, ladies, this is survival!
At least 30 minutes a day should be dedicated to you – I am not telling you that 30 minutes needs to be dedicated to physical fitness, it just needs to be dedicated to you. Whatever relaxes you is what that time should be for. Personally, my 30 minutes range from journaling, meditating, yoga, lifting weights, reading, taking my dog for a walk, or just sitting on my back deck with a smoothie. Put up a sign that says “mom is off duty” and make it clear that this is time that mom will take daily – this is more essential then brushing your teeth.
If your fatigue has gotten so bad that it is impacting your life, then seek out an integrative practitioner that can help you balance your cortisol levels so that you are able to thrive for many years to come. This is an investment in MOM – which means it is an investment in the whole family.
Take time to relax and then inspire your other moms to do some #momselfcare