Stressed to the max? Time to Get Moving, Mamas

Apr 30, 2021

How to carve out much-needed self-care time now

 More than a year into this messed-up new normal and it’s something we all know deep in our weary-ass bones:

Mamas are magic. 

Seriously, we possess superhero strength. 

Whether you’ve weathered a pregnancy in isolation and now find yourself parenting during a pandemic without your circle of support; or you’re a mamabossb*tch slaying the wfh life while riding the rollercoaster of virtual/in-school learning, all the while managing a million other little things (curbside pick ups, FaceTime calls with grandparents, and on and on and on) -- sure, we may be our family’s version of Superwoman, but it’s freakin’ exhausting.


And for many of us, the cracks have long started to show. I regularly hear from my mom friends, ‘Everyone else comes first. There is nothing left for me.’


In a recent national survey done by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH),“COVID-19 is having a negative impact on Canadians’ mental health, with many seeing their stress levels double since the onset of the pandemic.”


Of about 1,000 people who took part, nearly 25 per cent of women said they felt “depressed occasionally or most of the time in the past week,” which CAMH noted, was significantly higher than the men surveyed. 


Not surprisingly, people with kids under 18 living at home reported higher levels of anxiety, compared to those without.


And one last blistering stat from CAMH: about a quarter of people reported binge drinking in the previous week. A coping strategy that could end up haunting people well after the pandemic, the centre warned.


Let’s get moving


“I often use the analogy of the airplane and oxygen masks - the idea is that you have to put your own mask on before you put your child’s on,” says Catherine Sabiston, the director of the mental health and physical activity research centre at the University of Toronto.


“The same analogy exists when we talk about carving out a bit of time for ourselves, for self care and movement.”


The mom of two says the evidence is clear: movement helps mental health.


Remember that longstanding recommendation, you must get 150 minutes every week of running, biking, or lifting weights for it ‘to count?’ Sabiston says don’t start there. In fact for some, even just hearing that can be traumatizing, adding in layers of guilt and shame if you ‘fail’ to meet that target. 


Instead, she says start small, really small. 


One example she says, if you find you’re sitting most of the day, stand up and walk around the house. Seriously, do laps. If you’ve got stairs, go up and down a few times. Pick up a pedometer or track steps on your phone, and then slowly add more every day.


“The bottomline is it has to be intentional, it has to be something you are choosing to do,” she says. “Something you can fit into your day, whatever that looks like.”


Keep it consistent 


It’s the same mantra adopted by Dana Bergeron and Laura Wood, the powerhouse duo behind The Mama Reset, an online fitness community.


“We are big believers - and the research is pretty clear - that consistency really trumps anything,” said Bergeron. “You are so much better off doing a short amount of movement on a regular basis, looking for little ways to fit it in your life, than trying to get that one-hour workout that happens maybe once a week if you’re lucky.”


Since the pandemic started, the lifelong trainers and Mom Halo residents noticed a shift in their community.


Rather than focusing solely on fat or weight loss, more of their members are choosing movement to help with mental health and to reclaim some much-needed ‘me time.’


“People were like, ‘oh my god, I just need time to myself because I’m with my family all the time. I need to move my body, I need to sweat, I need to feel strong, I need something just for me,” Wood said.


The key, they say, is just getting started. They too encourage women to start small, such as a 15-minute walk with the kids or 10 minutes of stretching before bed. 


“We are seeing moms who are starting to push back and say, ‘you know what? I am going to take - if it’s 10 minutes - I’m going to do this for myself.  And I am going to do this for myself because I'm starting to feel what it’s like to NOT take care of this.’”


I’m definitely in, are you?






JJ is a mama of two, freelance writer, producer, copy-editor, and content creator. Let’s connect! Write me at [email protected]

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