Family/Caregiver Self Care
Parenting is a very challenging job! It’s an art and a science, and makes all of the emotions in life bigger – from one's joy to stress level. Parents need to take care of themselves so when their patience is tested (and kids need their parents most), they still have some left to draw on and can most consistently handle the challenges of parenting in ways that they can feel good about.
Life is busy, so how can we find time to refuel?
- Meditate – Try sitting for even just a few quiet moments can lower your heart rate and wash away stress. Explore deep breathing and meditation apps to find something easy, quick, and relaxing.
- Spend time in nature – Take a walk in the woods, a trip to the beach, or simply time looking at pictures of landscapes. Research has shown that looking at nature helps our health.
- Listen to music – Music can help you relax; set up a playlist for when you need to wind down or put on your favorite tunes as you cook or clean. Even dance around with your kids!
- Join a book club – Reading and discussing a book with friends, at a nearby library, or even online. Connect and talk about stories and make connections to things that are important in your life.
- Alone time – Take a little time to be alone and renew with silence. Try to a moment without someone needing something, asking something, or pulling on your sleeve.
- Time with family and friends – Refuel with people that are important to you, from a partner, to friends, or other families. Strengthen your social network with fun and meaningful connection.
- Move more – Being active helps release emotions and is a natural mood booster, in addition to helping you stay healthier and feeling better in your body. Go for a walk, a gym, or do yoga
- Write in a journal – Writing helps process or think about things. Journaling about things you are grateful helps refocus on what is good and right and reduces stress levels.
- Engage your senses – Some examples of engaging your senses include taking a hot bath, lighting a scented candle, looking at the light coming through the trees, or cooking aromatic food. Bring your awareness to the present moment through awakening your senses.
- Check some things off your to-do List - Long list of required tasks can linger and add feelings of stress. Try to prioritize and the list and accomplishment at least one every day.
- Take a break from electronics – Carve out time each day to put down the devices and connect eye-to-eye with family and children. Not only is this good for your stress level to unplug, it’s an important thing to model for your child, as along with the rise in hand-held electronics, there has been a rise in depression and anxiety among our youth.
Remember the most basic and important components of health – eating well, sleeping well, and staying active. Keep up on the basics of maintaining your home but don’t expect perfection. Life is a little messy, it's ok.
If you are experiencing a lot of stress or depression, please consult your doctor. You may want to see a mental health professional, but first it’s a great idea for your doctor to rule out any possible physical reasons for your difficulties. If you are struggling and need help right away, call 2-1-1 or go to your closest Emergency Room.
Taking care of your spiritual, physical, psychological, and social needs will help you feel your best so you can be the best parent you can be. It’s important to set aside a little bit of time for self-care even when we feel like we don’t have a single second to give. While there are many different self-care strategies for parents, it’s important to experiment with them to figure out which strategies work best. Remember, we can always slow down our breathing and take a moment to remember that tomorrow is a new day and there are people we can reach out to for support!