The heavy smell of wet soil, prickly vines brushing against my tiny fingers, running up and down row after row of green sprouts stretching toward the summer sun. These are some of my earliest memories. All because my mother raised me and my brothers out in the family garden.
As I grew older, the garden grew larger. She planted and pruned many fruit trees and bushes of tart raspberries and blackberries that would stain your fingers purple no matter how much you licked them. By late summer, she was filling musty cardboard boxes with everything she needed to make batches of fresh salsa, spaghetti sauce, raspberry jam, peach syrup, strawberry rhubarb pie, spicy garlic pickles, and much more.
My mom would frequently pull carrots out of dirt and hand them to me to eat. Yeah sure, I ate them and they were good, but it wasn’t a Snickers bar or a Twinkie. Still, she was persistent and continued making dinners using as many fresh fruits and vegetables as she could. And my body couldn’t resist—with time I grew to love eating vegetables, tomatoes in particular.
Many of you are, or plan to be, mothers. And every day you may be asking yourself how you can balance the task of raising a family and also taking care of yourself. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve begun to realize just how challenging and stressful it was for my mother to raise four boys, care for her massive garden, and keep her health strong.
For all mothers, it’s a daunting challenge full of responsibility and tried patience. It’s not just like a job or hobby where you get to go home every day and have weekends off. It’s a lifestyle—a way of living. And it’s a lifestyle that doesn’t always respect your health and wellness.
A small survey showed that 43 percent of new moms only get about 5.5 hours of sleep per day and that roughly 62 percent of women under 50 who gave birth last year are also in the workforce.
Another study showed that 8 of 10 moms described parenting as “exhausting… but fun.” And that many millennial mothers feel that parenting has become increasingly competitive. Perhaps due to the rise of social media, 3 out of 4 admitted that it’s important to try to be the “perfect” mom.
On top of it all, mothers are also the primary decision-makers when it comes to their family’s health. While the times are a changing, they are still the primary grocery shoppers and meal preparers in the family.
It seems crystal clear—if you’re a mom, then not only do you work harder than most, but you deserve a break more than most. Even with kids running around the house, your health is still important. After all, how can you care for those who matter most to you if you don’t care for yourself?
Here are a few ways moms have been able to care for themselves:
Last weekend, my wife and I started digging and planting our own garden. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it will be worth it. We really want to make our own fresh salsa and spaghetti sauce. If my mother hadn’t surrounded me with fresh fruits and vegetables when I was a kid, I doubt we’d be putting so much time and effort into growing them for ourselves. And I can’t wait for the day when my children take their first bite of a juicy, tangy tomato grown in the very garden that they play in.
It’s really that simple. My mother passed her healthy habits down to me, which I hope to pass on to my children. That’s how health comes full circle. And it can all start with a mother’s example.
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“The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”
Let’s face it—feeling self-love is much easier said than done. Especially when we live in a society obsessed with Snapchat-filter perfection. We constantly see others obtaining status, owning the latest and greatest technologies, going on dream vacations, and living in a big house on a hill with the perfect family.
It’s no wonder we often feel like we don’t measure up.
Even worse, we begin to tell ourselves lies. We start to think that we’re weird, poor, ugly, awkward, not smart enough, or even too smart. In short, we feel like we’re never enough.
But what if we’re wrong?
What if you were good enough, just the way you are? In this very moment?
When it comes to love, it’s often easier to give it to others. But showing yourself love is just as important, maybe even more so. Here are five ways you can start showing yourself some much-needed love today.
How often do we take the time to praise ourselves? If the answer is “rarely” or “I don’t even know what self-praise is,” let’s fix that, pronto. Try writing out a list of your positive attributes and take time to reflect on it every day.
When putting together your list, instead of being super generic in your attributes, try to be specific and have a little fun with this. (And then get really wild and add one or two new attributes to the list every week.)
For example: “I always give genuine compliments to others.” Or: “I’m non-judgmental and I always try to see things from another person’s point of view.” Or: “I have a nice singing voice and my husband/wife/next-door neighbor/puppy (woof!) loves it when I sing loudly when doing the dishes.”
Another tip? Along with the positive attributes list, try making a list of the things you are grateful for. Showing gratitude can go a long way into helping you out of self-defeating and negative thinking patterns.
Maybe you’re a super busy mom with adorable but rambunctious children. Or maybe you’re a hard-working sales rep putting in 60 hours+ of work each week. Your time can start to feel like it doesn’t belong to you anymore, and far too often you may feel like stretched taffy pulled too thin.
But how can you fully give to your children or to your job if you haven’t given anything to yourself?
This may mean taking extra time for yourself to meditate. It could mean curling up with a good murder mystery for a half hour before bed or indulging in the latest episode of your favorite guilty pleasure (if you love The Bachelor, I’m right there with you). It could mean making it to your daily CrossFit class or going to a weekly yoga class. It could even mean making a delicious snack for yourself and not sharing it with your kids!
The bottom line: fill your own cup first before you share with others. And don’t feel guilty about it. Just do it.
Another way to show love for yourself is to quit with the negative self-talk.
Seriously, stop. When you call yourself a name or criticize yourself, you are shrinking yourself from a human being of value down to a single element of yourself that you don’t like.
This can be a hard habit to quell, but it’s one that can have truly astonishing results. Think about it. You wouldn’t tell a 5-year-old that their crayon drawings look terrible. You wouldn’t tell your bestie that they’re hopeless for not knowing how to do their taxes online. And you certainly wouldn’t tell your loveable Grandma that she’s a basket case every time she smears pink lipstick on her teeth. (At least let’s hope you’d never do this.)
Yet how often do we berate ourselves and think negative thoughts like “I’m so stupid” or “I never get anything right”?
Instead of thinking of yourself as a total dumb-bat, rephrase the way you think about things. Try this instead: “Okay, so I don’t know how to relight the pilot light on my furnace. But there are YouTube videos that can probably teach me how to do this.”
Everybody is different. You don’t look the same, act the same, speak the same, or have exactly the same mind and heart and experiences as anybody else. You are a unique individual. Embrace it.
This is one I can certainly work on. For instance, I know that I’m kinda weird. I have a bizarre and irrational fear of birds (I’d never survive at Hogwarts with all the owls), I secretly cling to the hope that aliens and mermaids are real, and I’m addicted to reading young adult fiction that teenage girls obsess over, even though I’m a 32-year-old man. It’s like I’m becoming a crazy cat lady, but with books instead of cats. But I’m slowly learning that it’s okay to embrace your quirks. It’s okay to be different. Be weirdly you and own it and love it. And remember that no one is perfect, and perfect is boring anyway. Be flaw-some instead.
To make my point, let’s look at fruit. Say you are an orange. You are tangy-sweet, smell like a citrus-flavored candle, and are round with a thick skin. As an orange, why would you compare yourself to an apple? Or if you’re a strawberry, why look at a kiwi and think you’re somehow less? Every fruit has a little something to bring to the fruit salad. Likewise, we all have something unique to bring to the table.
If we’re being real, life isn’t always hunky-dory and chances are you might have some old emotional wounds or negative memories lingering on the surface in the present moment. If you find yourself dwelling on an old memory you’re not too fond of, catch yourself and say, “I’m not that person anymore.” Because truthfully, you aren’t. You don’t have to be defined by mistakes or incidents from the past.
Another thought—try accepting where you are right now, in the moment. Sometimes we give ourselves a hard time simply because we are feeling emotional. We feel like we need to be stronger. But it’s okay if you might be feeling a little down about something. Instead of beating yourself up for feeling down or emotional, give yourself permission to feel the feels for a bit. And then let it go and move on to greener pastures.
Self-love isn’t something you arrive at overnight. But by taking small, daily steps, you can begin to truly appreciate your uniqueness. You absolutely can love yourself just the way you are (and I sincerely hope you will).
After all, you’re pretty flaw-some.
The science of your skin and its proper care can be best understood through a comprehensive view of its anatomy and physiology. Learn about the structure and function of your skin and its important proteins so you can make better, more informed decisions on how to care for your skin.
Your skin is a composite of three layers of connective tissue. The epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis join at cellular junctions to create the largest organ of your body.
Each layer of your skin has a unique role in maintaining homeostasis—your body’s state of equilibrium. The skin regulates internal body temperature, protects delicate internal organs, and defends against pathogens and microbes.
For more information on the individual layers of your skin, their structure and function, see
Water retention is essential for healthy, vibrant skin. Dry skin can lead to a rough and bumpy appearance, and can cause injury when your skin cracks and breaks. A recent study published in the International Wound Journal highlights the importance of moisturizing skin daily. Moisturizing skin twice daily was shown to reduce the incidence of skin tears by nearly 50 percent in elderly patients living in an assisted living facility.
Moisturizers are most effective on dry skin when their ingredients reflect the natural oils produced by your skin. This similarity makes for a seamless integration of the moisturizer and your skin. These kinds of moisturizers trap water in your skin and promote healthy hydration. Plant-derived oils are particularly effective at moisturizing dry skin.
Your skin is made of a complex network of fibers and proteins that strengthen and reinforce its structure. Collagen and elastin are two of these integral proteins.
Collagen gives your skin incredible strength. Collagen production in the skin decreases as you age. This decrease can lead to the visible signs of aging—flat and dull skin, wrinkles, and fine lines. Several types of collagen proteins reside in your skin, and each performs a unique function.
At the dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ), collagen creates a structural framework for other skin cells. Collagen also plays a role in maintaining structural stability at the DEJ. Wrinkled skin contains much less collagen at the DEJ and the lack of stability of the area can lead to more wrinkles.
Elastin is another important protein in the skin matrix. It gives skin its bounce and resilience. Decrease in elastin production over time causes sagging skin.
While elastin naturally decreases with age, photo damage to this protein is the best understood cause of sagging skin. UV exposure causes elastin proteins to stiffen and coil, inhibiting their ability to bounce back into shape. Photo damage over long periods of time causes elastin proteins to lose their elasticity, keeping them from supporting the structure of your skin.
Skin creams and treatments that help minimize the appearance of aging usually contain ingredients designed to stimulate collagen and/or elastin synthesis. These products work to minimize damage done by age and the sun to reverse visible signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines. To effectively minimize the look of wrinkles and fine lines, combine a regimen of these skin creams and sunscreen.
Inevitably, your skin will change as you age. Many of the visible signs of aging can be minimized by proper skincare. There are two well-established causes of visible skin aging—intrinsic and extrinsic aging. Effective skincare regimens target the signs of both types of aging.
Intrinsic factors governing skin aging include variations in an individual’s genetic background. Extrinsic aging refers generally to factors that originate outside your body. These include smoking, sun exposure, and poor nutrition. Sunburn is thought to account for nearly 80 percent of premature facial aging. The extrinsic factors that cause premature skin aging are largely preventable.
One of the most effective methods of minimizing the appearance of aging skin is including antioxidants in your diet. Berries, tea-tree oil, green tea, and grape-seed extract are some notable antioxidants that can be found in your diet and skincare products. Antioxidants fight off the damage caused to skin cells from the sun, and promote healthy cell function. Antioxidants are not only important for your skin, but they help maintain a healthy brain and body, too.
Understanding what goes on behind the scenes can help you make smart decisions about your skincare. Choosing a good moisturizer and trying to reduce damage done to the collagen and elastin in your skin can improve the health of your skin and minimize visible signs of aging. In addition, eliminating extrinsic aging factors from your daily life can be the extra boost your skin needs to look and feel healthy and strong.