If there’s one thing quarantine has taught many moms this year, it’s exactly how far we can stretch before we hit the breaking point. Balancing the demands of jobs, virtual schooling (and the tech headaches that come with it), health concerns, everyday parenting… the list goes on. And so do moms. Is it any wonder we need a break?
Chicago Med star Yaya DaCosta is no different. The actress, doula, and mom to a 7-year-old son recently helped kick off SheKnows’ first-ever SK Conversations event, Back to Care (sponsored by BAND-AID® Brand), where she opened up about parenting during a pandemic and how she still manages to make time for self-care.
And let’s get real about that for a minute, shall we? Because it can be challenging for busy moms to prioritize self-care even during the best of times — let alone these times. Not everyone has 90 minutes to spend taking a yoga class; not everyone can afford to spend money on a manicure.
DaCosta gets that. When we spoke to her, her son had just started in a new school and her TV show — DaCosta plays plays nurse April Sexton on the hit NBC medical drama — was about to resume shooting. In other words, her already busy life was about to get busier.
“It’s a crazy time,” she admitted to us.
So what’s helping to calm the chaos? Through her work as a doula, DaCosta has learned a lot about the importance of self-care, because in order to be able to show up for her clients, she says, “you really, really have to replenish and fill your cup in order to be what they need you to be.” She shared the self-care tips that work for her in her own life — and that even the most harried mama can make time for in her day:
Tap into joy as a practice
“It’s easy to complain, but sometimes we’re shy about sharing our joy or saying, ‘You know what, I’m having a great day’ or ‘This is what I loved about this time’ because we tend to kind of commiserate, you know?” DaCosta says. “But there are so many pluses to [this time] as well. And I think really tapping into joy as a constant practice has been phenomenal.”
Find meditative moments
DaCosta’s meditation practice, which she’s extended to her son during this quarantine time, is one of the things that “saves” her, she says, “because I know that I can always return to a kind of a peaceful state of equilibrium.” But meditation skeptics take note here: For DaCosta, “meditation” doesn’t mean carving out an hour to sit still in Lotus position.
“You can bring a meditative mindset to anything that you’re doing throughout your day,” she says. “So it doesn’t feel like an extra thing to do. You know, while [I’m] cooking, it’s just about awareness, just about mindfulness. The way that I’m cutting the carrots. Or the way that I’m taking steps down the street and just being intentional about your next moves, focusing on your breath.
“It’s about reclaiming your physical, emotional, and spiritual connection and allowing yourself that time, no matter what it looks like,” she adds. “It doesn’t have to be pretty.”
“You can bring a meditative mindset to anything that you’re doing throughout your day.”
Put a time limit on social media
How much time do you spend mindlessly scrolling on your phone each day? Do you even want to know? DaCosta does. “We talk about, I’m so busy, I’m so busy, I have no time,” she says. “But if we go on our iPhones, it tells you how much time you spent on each app. When I did that for the first time, my mind was blown.”
DaCosta decided to use an app to put a time limit on social media “and anything that was not an absolute necessity. And when that time limit is up, whether it’s a half an hour or an hour for the day, the app will close.
“Of course, you have the option to extend, but it’s been a brutal practice and discipline for me to say, ‘OK, I’m done.’ There’s nothing I’m doing on there that’s really necessary,” she says. “And that has given me more time in the day for the things that do matter.”
Another thing DaCosta does is something she calls 5-5-5. Start by waking up 15 minutes earlier (and not reaching for your phone). Sit and meditate for 5 minutes. Then take 5 minutes to write down five things you’re grateful for (or eleven or fifteen, however many things you want to write). And then spend another 5 minutes planning and visualizing your day.
“For me, the gratitude practice has been the most powerful,” she says. “Because when we are grateful, we just attract so many more positive things in our lives.”
Zzzzs are another important part of self-care, so check out these products that can help you get more sleep: