Self-Care - 7 ideas to feel better
We've all heard of the saying: "Put the oxygen mask on yourself first" and this pertains to parenting as well as airline safety. It's so important because when we don't take care of ourselves we are unable to take care of our families very well either. Great self-care allows you to be a positive, upbeat parent for your child.
Your life is busy but there may be some wiggle room in there to incorporate a few of these ideas into your life each day:
Gratitude: Stop to check-in on what you're grateful for today. There is always a sliver lining to every situation. Find the good in even the challenging times and remain thankful. Focusing on the positive things about your day will set the stage for the rest of your life. Some people find that keeping a gratitude journal helps them continually recognize the good. In my family, we check in at dinner time and ask everyone to share something good that happened to them that day. It's a wonderful time to recognize that something awesome happened and the rest of the family can celebrate the good stuff too.
Exercise: Do something that gets your heart rate going a little bit. Hiking, weights, Zumba class... whatever is fun and a bit challenging for you, do it each day. For some people, they like the routine of the same activity. For others, they need something fresh and new to stay engaged. There is something for everyone! Even when you're traveling or at work you can find time to fit in exercise. I bring my yoga mat to work and get in a quick 30 minute session on my lunch break. Or search YouTube for using your own body weight for a work out session right in your hotel room. Where there's a will there's a way when it comes to exercise.
Eat Right: You are what you eat. I never really understood this saying until I dined at the buffet at the Golden Corral and I felt like sh*t! Studies show there are serotonin receptors in your gut lining. According to the American Psychological Association, gut bacteria manufacture about 95% of the body's serotonin, which influences both mood and gastrointestinal activity. A happier gut means a happier mood. Eat good food = feel good. It's that simple!
Social Connection: Reaching out to connect with friends and family qualifies as self-care because we all need people. Studies show when you have a large social network, you tend to be happier. One of the longest studies of adult life by Harvard shows that people who fared the best were the people who leaned into relationships, with family, friends and the community. Depressed people tend to isolate and that makes things even worse. Reach out to others and create connections. Then take the time every day to cultivate those connections with love and care.
Sleep: Lack of sleep can directly impact a parent's ability to be patient. When I'm sleep-deprived, I'm quicker to anger, less patient and snap at my kids. I don't want to be that person! That's why I have my own bedtime and take it seriously. The phone and TV are turned off and the house is quiet. Sleep is respected. I know that when I get great sleep, I bound out of bed and am ready to take on the day with my kids. I can jump on the trampoline with them and come up with creative ways to have fun. That's the kid of mom I want to be.
Boundaries: Self-care means knowing your boundaries, being consistent with them and calling someone out when they've crossed a boundary with you. It's difficult to say, "Hey, that didn't feel good to me when you (fill in the blank)." It's easier to brush it under the rug and move on. However, the long-term impact on your sense of well-being is impacted in the negative. Standing up for yourself with calm strength is self-care because you're showing others how you need to be treated. Putting yourself at the top of your own list is not selfish; it's self-care.
Play/Laughter: As I've become an adult and gotten older, I feel like I've lost the sense of play. When you're a child, it's all about play, right? Playing with friends. Playing on the Xbox. Playing to learn. Now as an adult, it seems like it's all about getting things done. We all need more play in our lives and it's a part of self-care because laughter brings happiness and a deep sense of well-being. How do you like to play? Is it playing charades with your family? Playing golf? Ping Pong? Whatever you consider play, try to pencil it in to your busy schedule more often.
Setting a good example for our children that self-care is important starts with prioritizing it in our own lives. Showing up for our children means showing up for ourselves first. I do believe that happier parents make happier kids; even when we take time away from our kids to work on personal self-care.