By Abu Dhabi 360

With how busy mother’s lives are, ‘me-time’ can feel like a precious and rare commodity. Being a mother can sometimes come with a list of things to juggle, from busy careers, managing the household, acting as a key support system for children, to trying to make time with friends… the list goes on.

Mothers are used to caring for others and as a result, usually end up putting themselves last, so it’s no surprise recent studies have shown that women tend to experience stress more acutely than men—especially women who work. And women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. It’s not hard to see why.

According to Dr. Haseeb Rohilla, an expert in adult mental wellbeing, “We know that women tend to shoulder a lot of the ‘invisible load’ at home. They do a lot of the work that is often unseen. Combined with a full-time job, which more and more women have in the UAE, it’s a lot of pressure. That is why it is so important to take mental and emotional breaks.’’

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, Abu Dhabi 360, the recently launched community-wide program by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, which is designed to help everyone pursue whole-person wellness, is asking mother’s to actively care for themselves. instead of asking for flowers or chocolates, why not make a point to give yourself the ‘gift of me-time’. And not just for one day, but as a kick-start towards a journey of health and wellness. You don’t just deserve it. You need it.

“Exercise, mindfulness, good nutrition, and getting more sleep are all game-changers for self-care,” said Dr. Rohilla, “When you exercise, as soon as you get a little out of breath or start sweating, you know it’s working—that’s when the endorphins are released. Endorphins are chemicals in your brain that make you feel good, and they play a significant role in your overall well-being.”

Nutrition also plays an important role in self-care, Dr. Rohilla continues. “When we have fueled our bodies with sugar and coffee, we might experience a quick spike in energy, but we’ll crash quickly, and feel worse than before. Eating diets rich in nutrients such as protein can help us cope better with the stress of the day.”

Sleep is key too. “When we feel tired, we don’t cope well,” says Dr. Rohilla “Everything seems more difficult. Your patience is lower. Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep and be sure to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends. Being consistent reinforces the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Try to avoid any screen time at least an hour or so before you go to sleep. If you don’t feel asleep within about 20 minutes of going to bed, leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Read or listen to soothing music and then go back to bed when you feel tired. Repetition is key as you will eventually train body to maintain a good sleep schedule.’’

A practice called mindfulness can also help when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

According to the Mayo Clinic, mindfulness is a kind of meditation where you focus on being completely aware of what you’re experiencing in the moment. It can involve breathing, guided imagery, and other exercises to help you relax your body.

Latifa Bin Haider, Co-Founder of Mental Health UAE recommends three simple mindfulness practices that can help women cope with stress and build personal resilience:

  1. Focus on breathing. Breathwork is a helpful way to focus on and identify how you’re feeling and why. It’s also an easy, inconspicuous way to practice mindfulness in the middle of a busy day.

    “Something we call four-seven-eight breathing, sometimes called yoga breathing, helps slow your heart rate and calm your nervous system,” said Latifa “You breathe in for the count of four, hold for the count of seven, and breath out for the count of eight, then repeat the pattern two or three times. You can try it to calm yourself before having a difficult conversation or if you’re having trouble sleeping, for example.”
  • Take breaks.

“Moms tend to put everyone else before themselves, butthey need time to recharge if they’re going to have anything to give,” continues Latifa “Time for yourself is a necessity—not a luxury.”

Taking time for yourself could mean taking a lunch break, going for a walk, or hiring a babysitter so you can get a massage. Make sure to really disconnect, leaving your phone behind so you can get an actual break, where no one asks you for anything.

  • Intentionally unwind after a long day.

‘‘Particularly for women who work outside the home, it’s vital to unwind at the end of the day so you can be fully present for yourself and your family. Consider using your commute to listen to a meditation, practice your breathing, or make a mental list of things you’re grateful for. Don’t think about work—leave it at the office. You’ll be amazed at how much more peaceful you feel when you get home.’’

Download the Abu Dhabi 360 app for more ideas and resources for self-care this Mother’s Day.