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How To Refuel Yourself (Almost) Guilt-Free!

A life coach and two really busy moms weigh in on how to (at least try to) make self-care a reality.

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You’re so busy taking care of everybody and everything else that burnout and exhaustion may be on the horizon. Take a note from these experts and allies in parenting.

THE LIFE COACH SAYS…

“Self-care is the key to refueling yourself, but the way you think about self-care might be making you more stressed. When you frame it as a “supposed to,” it can feel like just another item on your to-do list. Did you go to the gym? Drink your green smoothie? Meditate and journal? This is not self-care—it’s hustle in disguise.

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Pay attention to what gives you energy and what drains you. Minimize or eliminate the energy-drainers. Say “no,” change your negative self-talk, don’t try to do everything, and stop people-pleasing or aiming for perfection. Prioritize the energy-givers—especially when you’re under stress—we tend to give these up first, creating a vicious cycle. Rest; do things that give you pleasure, take breaks, or take naps. And do it for you, because you are worthy of care.”

—Erica Hanlon, Denver, licensed professional counselor and coach, and mom of three kids.

THE MOM WHO SCHEDULES TIME TO REFUEL SAYS…

“I notice I need “me time” or refueling when I feel exhausted, less patient, and very reactive to situations. I like to take a nap and completely shut off the emotions, mind, and body. Try to take a walk in nature or just get outside, get active (whatever that means for you), chat with a friend, watch a movie alone, practice gratitude, or journal.

Rather than burning out and needing to constantly “top-up,” I plan ahead and schedule things weekly that allow me to live fulfilled and not pouring from an empty cup. It’s important to be intentional and work in these refueling times as a habit so that as we serve and love on so many people, we don’t face burnout. I definitely do not get it right all the time. It’s something I’m practicing, tweaking, and reworking often.”

—Mandi Berghorst, Broomfield, mom of kids ages three and six, founder of Ask Mum.

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THE MOM WHO COORDINATES WITH HER PARTNER SAYS…

“My husband and I have an understanding that if I’m feeling drained he’ll take our daughter and go do something fun so I can do something that refuels me.

Communication between you and your partner is crucial. If you establish what you need before you’re exhausted, you and your partner will have a game plan for the times you need to refuel. If you try to problem-solve and figure it out in the moment, it can be even more draining and lead to arguing or overwhelm.

Know ahead of time what activities refuel you so you can easily go to that thing when you need it. Listen to your body and do what it needs. Don’t try to work out if you hear your body saying it needs to relax. Your body knows best!”

—Taylor Stauffer, Centennial, mom of a three-year-old and director of operations at The Village Workspace.

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