written by: Amy Patenaude, Psyched2Parent
Taking care of ourselves as parents is hard. Naturally, we have a biological need to put the needs of our children before our own. However, in times of change, it is important to make sure we prioritize our own care. If we continually push our needs to the side, there is a higher likelihood of experiencing burnout. When we feel stressed, overwhelmed, and burned out, we are not able to take care of those that we love. Self-care is the antidote to burn out.
What is self-care?
Self-care is more than taking a bubble bath, meeting a friend for coffee, or going to a yoga class. Instead, it is intentional and deliberate. It’s something that we do to take care of our emotional, physical, and social needs. When we practice self-care, we are protecting our own well-being and happiness.
Here are some examples of physical self-care:
- Following a healthy diet
- Drinking enough water
- Engaging in physical activity
- Getting enough sleep
Here are some examples of emotional self-care:
- Being able to identify how we are feeling
- Expressing your emotions
- Putting boundaries in place
- Writing or journaling about how you are feeling
- Using adult coloring books
Here are some examples of social self-care:
- Having regular conversations with friends and family members
- Making time to debrief at the end of the day with a coworker, spouse, or trusted friend
- Scheduling time for getting together with friends (whether in-person or virtual)
Using Mindfulness and Gratitude to Practice Self-Care
When it comes to practicing self-care, changes in our current events have made it difficult. For me, I used to enjoy going to the local gym to take group fitness classes or meeting up at a wine bar with my gal pals for a mom’s night out. These are no longer options with social distancing and taking protective measures to stay home. However, I’ve found that practicing mediation and mindfulness to be extremely helpful for my personal self-care.
When it comes to practicing self-care, it can be hard to set aside time (or even a moment) for ourselves. I’ve learned that it is so important to schedule time in my day where I am able to practice self-care. This means, that I intentionally schedule anywhere from 20-30 minutes each day for myself. To help hold myself accountable, I will schedule the time on my daily planner. Some days, I wake up before the rest of my family so that I can do something that rejuvenates me. Other days, this may look like sneaking away to a cozy spot outside after my kids go to bed.
Here are some ways that can help with self-care:
- Spend time outside
- Set aside time either first thing in the morning or after the kids go to bed at night.
- Call a friend or family member
- Calm: Calm’s mission is to help people become happier and healthier. Calm has meditations for some of the most common mental health concerns like stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
- Headspace: Headspace is a mindfulness meditation app with all sorts of topics. They have hundreds of guided meditations on everything from stress to sleep. Also, there are over 40 mindfulness exercises for cooking, eating, commuting and more. Since they are short meditations, they are great to use for busy schedules.
- Psyched2parent Daily Gratitude Journal: Practicing daily gratitude has been shown to help with feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness. By finding the small things in life that we are appreciative of and expressing gratitude for those things, can help shift our perspective.
Seeking Professional Help When Self-Care Isn’t Enough
When it comes to COVID-19 and being a parent, what we are experiencing is not normal. This is a stressful time. As I tell my clients, this is not “business as usual.” If you find yourself feeling sad, angry, upset, or fill-in-blank, and it’s hard to express yourself to a loved one, you have permission to ask for help. There are many mental health professionals who are available and offer telehealth services to fit a parent’s busy schedule. Please know that you are not alone, you matter, you are loved. If you find yourself needing someone to talk to related to the stresses of parenting and how to best help your child, I am more than happy to listen and offer suggestions and strategies.
Final Thoughts on Self-Care
As moms, we do so much to take care of our families, spouses, friends, and work. I hope these resources can make your life just a little bit easier and help with practicing self-care.
To read more from Amy, visit her website Psyched2Parent!