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New Year, New You

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The concept of taking care of yourself so you can take care of others is a very difficult one for most new moms to wrap their heads around. I can’t think of any friends of mine who haven’t struggled to justify taking time for themselves despite feeling unfit, unattractive, and burnt out. I have no time to workout. There’s no point in wearing anything new, it’ll just get stained and filthy. I can’t afford to get a haircut/massage/new underwear. I’ve used all these excuses, too. But at some point we just have to get over it, right?

There are several ways you can pamper yourself without spending a lot of money — or even leaving your house. Of course, the best and most significant way to take care of oneself is from the inside out: eat a balanced, whole-foods diet, get as much rest as you can, spend time doing things that make you happy, and move your body every day.

Here are a few suggestions for the burnt-out-frumpy-mama blues (plus suggested reading for those of you who’d like to do some serious inner renovating).

I feel edgy and short on patience. I find myself yelling more than I like!
Try “ocean breath”: In a quiet place, sit down and close your eyes. Take a few moments to focus on your breathing, letting the inhalations happen naturally and placing a little more emphasis when you exhale. Once you have established a peaceful rhythm, try breathing in deeply through your nose and out from the back of your throat through parted lips — the result will be a sound much like ocean waves, and several minutes of this is very calming and restorative.

I feel completely exhausted, with no energy, and no time to sleep!
A brisk walk or 30 minutes of exercise may help get those endorphins pumping to wake you up. Or, if there’s no time for that, try laying on the floor with your legs resting on the wall (so that your legs and torso make the same 90 degree angle the wall and floor do). Close your eyes and hang out for five-to-10 minutes. This reverses your blood flow, oxygenating the blood and taking pressure off your legs. You’ll feel surprisingly refreshed.

I feel flabby/bloated/uncomfortable in my own skin!
Daily exercise — walking, running, yoga, Pilates, swimming — is the best thing for combatting post-partum body blues. But a body scrub, a macrobiotic lifestyle recommendation, is great for some immediate gratification: Take a washcloth and soak it in hot water. Starting with the back of your hand, scrub your skin until it is bright pink; proceed over your entire body (except for your face, breasts, and sensitive girly parts). You’ll notice your skin turns a mottled pink and then a healthy, rosy flush, a sign that your fat cells are detoxing. Try doing this every day for at least two weeks. It can help eliminate bloating and puffiness, make your skin firmer and softer, regulate your digestion, and add a little pep to your step.

I hate everything in my closet. All my clothes are stained or ill-fitting!
No way around spending a little money here, though it doesn’t have to be a lot. Check out your local thrift stores, have a clothing swap party with your girlfriends, or check Web sites like Etsy that sell up-cycled or handmade clothes. Just a few new items may be all you need to make you feel more pulled-together.

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