You can’t pour from an empty cup. That’s why its important to do what you can to take care of yourself.
Let’s discuss a few major self-care tools
Get plenty of sleep
We all love the quiet hours of the evening when the kids are tucked into bed and we can just breathe. We can eat our favorite snacks without someone asking for a bite and we can enjoy feeling like an adult again, especially for parents of young kids.
But sleep is an important part of taking care of ourselves, too. According to the CDC, a third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can exacerbate chronic health issues, encourage the creep of obesity, strain mental fitness, and cause a pretty serious case of the grumps.
To get better sleep, create a bedtime routine for yourself. Stop eating a few hours before bed, come up with a calming wind down routine for yourself and your kids, leave electronics out of the bedroom, and make your bedroom space as calming as possible. If you suffer from ADHD or anxiety which impacts your sleep, see if you can get sleep support from a licensed therapist.
Both parents and kids need sunlight! Sunshine helps the body by giving humans the critical Vitamin D mineral, producing serotonin (the happiness chemical), keeping you fit through outdoor exercise, and by boosting immune function. Getting out and moving your body outdoors for just 10-15 minutes per day can help to increase mental clarity, lower blood pressure, and elevate mood.
Some great outdoor activities are:
- Walking around the block
- Going for a hike along a hiking trail
- Swimming in the ocean or a pool
- Playing at the local park
- Rollerskating or rollerblading
Make sure that you utilize an appropriate SPF sunscreen during hot months when the sun is strong to keep you and your little’s skin from burning, though!
There are health benefits to tidying up your living space! Cleaning your home up or even doing the dishes mindfully (taking time to engage your senses by smelling the soap, feeling the water on your skin, hearing the water gush, etc.) helps lower anxiety in people who have anxiety and can help those without anxiety feel more ordered and in control of their lives.
Decluttering can help spaces look cleaner, larger, and more ready to be utilized. It also helps keep you in a positive state of mind.
Work on decluttering by resolving to tackle one room of the house at a time. Make sure you have enough storage bins and boxes for the items you’re keeping. Identify which items can be sold (to make a little extra cheddar cheese!), which can be donated, and which must be trashed.
Make the process fun by involving your kids! Younger kids may naturally want to help sort and clean while older kids may need a little encouragement (read: BRIBES) to get involved, but ultimately it will take the weight off you as a parent and help them to become more independent and self-sufficient.
For advanced declutterers who also want to help go green, check out how to start composting your trash and scraps!
Sometimes, it helps us to get some perspective on our own situations by looking at what we have rather than what we don’t have.
We can do this through mindfulness, which is the practice of actively participating in the moment.
We can also do this by reading about people who have different or more complicated problems than we do, which broadens personal perspective and helps us be thankful. Anne Frank is a great example of someone who faced terrible hardship and maintained a positive outlook on life; reading her biography can help us center ourselves. The concept of “fake it til you make it” has roots in science!
Sometimes it helps people to keep a “gratitude journal” to remain mindful of their thoughts and feelings.
The health benefits of hugs cannot be understated! Most humans love and crave a physical connection with others and hugs are great ways to help you reduce stress, improve heart health, and calm fears.
Hug a pet, a child, a friend you feel comfortable with, or a family member.
A little canoodling is definitely self-care, for everyone involved.
What if this doesn’t “work”?
These tips are not intended to serve as medical advice or to supplant prescriptions or therapy. If you are currently working with a medical provider on mental health issues, continue your treatment plan.
If your self-care routine is doing more harm than good, reevaluate what you are doing as “self-care”. Sometimes those with anxiety suffer from guilt from not “doing enough” during self-care sessions. If this is you, try to evaluate what you consider “self-care” and come up with a plan that works for you.
Trauma can also impact your self-care. Trauma survivors may need more than sleep and sunshine to heal from past wounds; they may need the services of licensed trauma therapists. We encourage you to find the support you need to move past your trauma and begin the healing process.
Toxic partners can also put a damper on self-care, from minimizing the need for self-care to outright sabotaging self-care attempts, and other abusive actions. There are ways to get out of abusive and toxic relationships. This guide provides fantastic monetary resources to help you gain your independence.
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