As parents, we do all we can for the safety, security, health, and well-being of our children. In doing so, it is not uncommon to give our all to our children at the sacrifice of our own self-care. This is unavoidable for short spurts of time such as illness or serious accidents, but when our only focus is on the care of other’s we soon become less effective and nurturing as a parent and care giver.
Remember the last time you were on an airplane preparing for takeoff, and heard from the flight attendant, “If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.” It seems counter intuitive and even irresponsible for a parent to place an oxygen mask on themselves before assisting their child. However, it really is all about you. If you do not have a fresh flow of oxygen to your brain, it is a very brief time before disorientation and the ability to make decisions becomes impaired. Soon you will not be able to care for your child or yourself. Life just became a whole lot more precarious.
The same holds true for the daily self-care required for good mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Self-care truly is not an option. Without it, the stresses and anxieties of life can become overwhelming and lead to despair. Here are some ideas which are proven to help lower stress and build resiliency:
- Build strong connections with others based upon respect, communication, and honesty. Healthy relationships are key to our well-being. Not everyone may need a therapist but it is essential everyone has a friend.
- Take care of your body by sleeping at 7.5 to 8 hours each night, adding healthy food choices to your current diet, and moving. Three, 10 minute sessions a day of exercise is better for you than one 30 minute session a daily.
- Express gratitude. The writing of thank you notes seems to be especially helpful.
- Give of yourself but also learn to say “no” when appropriate.
- Find ways to create. Whether it is writing a poem, trying a new recipe, coming up with an innovative way to do something, or creating and planting a garden, creation is good for the soul.
- Value yourself and do things just for you– even if it is only for a few minutes each day.
As you practice self-care you will find within you the ability to be more present, patient, and available to those who may need you. You will have a greater sense of peace. But first; it really is all about you.