Danielle is an awesome young mum who is about to complete her nursing degree! (yaay!!) She has completed our online Self-Care course twice, which I think is awesome! I was lucky enough to interview her to see how she incorporates mindfulness as a mother, student and soon to be Nurse!
My mindfulness/self-care journey
I’ve always taken a proactive stance with my physical, emotional and mental health, and even more so after becoming a young single mother to a very energetic (& wonderful) son. I’m currently in my final year of my nursing degree, and early on became determined to focus on developing a self-care routine, to be my best self for my son, as well as maintain career longevity as a nurse. I’ve now done The Mindful Collective’s online Self-Care Course twice, and both times have discovered values and needs that I was unaware I had. Now when I feel burnt out, stressed or run down, I am able to better reflect and tailor my self-care to what I need at the time, whether it be physical, emotional, social or spiritual.
How I apply a self-care perspective to fit into my life
Given that I am stretched quite thin between family, study and placement commitments, I feel that I have very little time for self-care activities. However, what I have found useful is slightly altering and applying a shift in focus to everyday activities, rather than introducing new activities, can be really helpful. E.g. if I need to clean my house, I might put on some music and sing along – that’s a really effective destress tool for me. Or, rather than ‘forcing’ myself to do a chore I don’t want to do (e.g. washing the sheets), I might change my focus of thought to ‘by washing my sheets I am caring for myself by making sure I have a lovely clean bed to get into tonight’. It seems overly simplistic, but it works really well!
Which stress-busting tools have I noticed work well for me?
The most effective action I can take when I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed with life – if I have the time – is to take a ‘mini holiday’ for the day. I love driving up the coast to Mooloolabah or Maleny, or taking my little boy to the zoo or a theme park. When I have less time, I might just do something simple, like getting out in the sunshine or making something different/special for dinner. I also love yoga and do it quite regularly (just at home), and love working out at the gym when I get the chance!
Who inspires my self-care, and why?
Definitely my son – he’s motivated me to be my best self and for that reason, I’ve decided to always take care of myself so that I’m fully able to take care of him.
How do I express my creative self in my parenting?
I find that being a parent is one of those roles which brings with it ample opportunity for creativity – particularly with toddlers; every day is full of imagination play, storytelling and adventure. Also, sometimes avoiding oncoming meltdowns involves a lot of creative distraction tactics!
How do I stay motivated to care for myself?
I find it particularly easy to notice when I’m running low on emotional energy, going from someone who’s fairly patient to losing my temper easily and snapping over the smallest things. A positive (or negative, depending on how you look at it) of being a single parent, is once my son falls asleep at night I have a fair bit of time on my own to reflect and think (and admittedly overthink) about how things are going; this works well for me as I am able to use the time to determine what my needs are and what I can do to help myself fill them.
Have I seen a therapist, and what have I learned about my self-care?
I’ve been having sessions with Amy since my son was about 6 months old, and through our sessions I’ve been able to challenge myself to increase the diversity of my self-care techniques; I’ve always been heavily reliant on physical self-care (going to the gym, doing yoga or running) but once I became a mother I had much less time to do so, and was struggling as a result. Amy helps me keep focus on the importance of my own needs, which is something that I think mums often need to be reminded of!
My thoughts on values-centred living
Having a better understanding of my own values has been enlightening in how I deal with challenging situations, in particular, conflict. Co-parenting has proven more difficult than I was anticipating, and I often feel that there is pressure on separated parents to ‘fight to win’ – more custody, more child support (or to pay less child support), more control. It has only been recently that I’ve realised one of the major reasons this has been such a distressing time for me, is that my major values involve empathy, kindness and compassion for others, and therefore taking an offensive stance becomes a very unnatural and resultantly stressful endeavour. By understanding what your values are, you can make the choice to stay true to what feels right – in that sense, no matter what the outcome of any challenging situation may be, you are left feeling more secure and happy with the decisions you made.
Thank you, Danielle! Such a fantastic interview! You have really done an amazing job incorporating self-care techniques into your day to day life, and also recognising that your needs are important too!