Self-Care is Not Selfish!
We often feel guilty about the idea of self-care, but there is no reward for self-sacrifice. When we take care of ourselves, we can offer our kids the love, compassion, structure and connection they need. We can also model for them how to support their own emotional and physical wellbeing.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Big
Making tiny tweaks to your daily routine - such as breathing deeply, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep - can lead to real transformation. Problems are easier to solve when you’re not running on empty.
Practice Finding Calm
Focused breathing is the fastest way to neutralize stress. Put your hand over your diaphragm and inhale through your nose for four seconds, expanding your belly. Hold for 4 seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth for eight seconds. Another option is a body scan, where you slowly sweep through each body part with your mind, from your feet to your head, noticing and relaxing into (rather than encouraging) whatever intense sensations you find.
Be Kinder to Yourself
Your inner voice can be an enemy or an ally. Notice your self-talk and try to treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend. When you offer yourself compassion, your body releases the “love hormone” oxytocin, enhancing your sense of trust, calm, safety, and connectedness so you can rise to the occasion.
Focus on Your Strengths
Instead of dwelling on your perceived weaknesses, tap into your strengths. Are you curious, kind, creative? Identify your primary strengths and try to use them each day in new ways. For example, if you’re curious, try eating a new food, reading a different newspaper or taking an alternative route. Studies have shown that accentuating “signature strengths” can decrease stress and depression.
Get Your Sleep
When we are pressed for time, often sleep is the first thing we cut. But getting more sleep is the most effective way to enhance your sense of wellbeing. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Establish a routine. Shut down your screens at least a half hour before bed-time. Try taking an Epsom salt bath, putting your legs up the wall for a few minutes, or writing in a journal to help you wind down.
Exercising 3 days/week will help you stay in a more positive space. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do a plank for one minute when you wake up. Find a physical activity that you enjoy. Exercise increases Vitamin D and serotonin in the brain to ensure your body and mind stay healthy, reducing stress and anxiety.
Eat for Wellness
Eating healthily decreases depression by 50%. Diet is linked to the hippocampus, a key area of the brain involved in learning, memory, and mental health. People with healthy diets, including one rich in fruits and vegetables, have more hippocampal volume than those with unhealthy diets. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish may help concentration. Vitamin B Complex found in fish, beans, milk, and dairy can balance your mood, and Vitamin C found in many fruits and vegetables can decrease stress.
Seek Social Connection
Family challenges and social stigma can leave parents feeling isolated. Don’t suffer alone. Social relationships are important for your wellbeing. Studies show that people who have strong community and social bonds enjoy better health and longer lives. Connecting with other parents who understand will buoy you.
Ask for Help
It takes a village of support to raise kids. In addition to building a team for your child, set up a support squad for yourself. Having friends, family, and professionals you can rely on through thick and thin is invaluable. Helping others, even in small ways, can boost your happiness too.
National Alliance on Mental Illness - Taking Care of Yourself
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