“It is so important to take time for yourself and find clarity. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.” Diane Von Furstenberg

You need to make self-care a priority. I know we are in the middle of a pandemic, and it may not seem like there is an end in sight. For some, it means they are working harder, and for some they are working less.

Parents make self-care a priority

Regardless of where you fall, you don’t want to lose yourself in this pandemic. One of my favorite simple self-care techniques is to stop and take 10 deep breathes. By doing this you are slowing down your central nervous system.

You are not a machine. You can’t keep going without refueling. If you don’t slow down, you will burn out. The good news is that you can prevent this with a self-care plan.

Here are 11 self-care tips for parents:

  1. Get moving. This means you need to schedule time for exercise. You can go to your favorite cardio class at the gym, go for a swim or simply go for a walk. The more the better. Get your heart rate up. This is good for your physical and mental health. Go to a yoga or pilates class. If you can’t make it to the gym, then watch a video. It doesn’t have to be long. Start with 10 minutes. You will notice a difference almost immediately. You may feel like you don’t have the time, but you do. It will eventually become a habit. Exercising regularly will also help with sleep. I know we are in the middle of a pandemic and many of the gyms are closed. There are many classes you can attend online or outdoors. Make good use of them.
  2. Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water. This means stay away from processed foods. It’s easy to pick up something on the go, but you aren’t getting the nutrients you need. Make sure you are eating lean protein, plenty of fruits and vegetables and healthy carbohydrates. You also want to make sure you have some healthy fats. This is how you feel full. It will also help reduce cravings for foods high in sugar. Make sure you are hydrated. This is another way to prevent cravings. Carry your water bottle with you, and keep it filled with water. You also need to set aside time for meal prep. This means chopping up fresh vegetables and preparing lean protein early in the week. Then, it is easily available for meals.
  3. Spend a little money on yourself. You buy for the children, your husband and the home. When was the last time you bought yourself something just because you wanted it? That’s right you didn’t necessarily need it, you just wanted it. Maybe that dress or necklace made you feel pretty. A day at the spa away from home can make you feel amazing. The effects of spending a little money on yourself can go a long way. You don’t always need to be so frugal.
  4. What is, is. Learn to breathe and let go. Sometimes, you have to accept things how they are. You need to stop pushing yourself. Stop trying to wade upstream at high tide. If you don’t stop, you will exhaust yourself. This can lead to burn out. You can’t go back and you can’t predict the future. This means you can’t control everything. When you learn to let go, you will feel better about yourself. Your family will notice and appreciate this.
  5. Sleeping isn’t an option, it’s a requirement. All too often, you put sleep at the bottom of your priority list. Your body needs sleep to recharge. Your brain can’t function when you don’t have enough rest. Start to get into a routine of going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time.
  6. Self-Care does include having regular check-ups. This may sound small or simple, but it does make a big difference. Make sure you have a check-up every year with your doctor. I’m surprised how often I hear people aren’t doing this. Studies have shown you will live a healthier and longer life by visiting your doctor regularly. Please don’t tell me you don’t have enough time. It doesn’t take that long and you are worth it.
  7. Surround yourself with positive people. Start by reviewing the people that you are the most close to. Take a look at your top five people. Are they supportive? Are the positive and optimistic, or are they negative? The people you are around have a direct effect on your emotional health. They should not be creating more stress in your life. They should be positive and supportive. If necessary, work at developing an adequate and appropriate support system.
  8. Stay away from the bad news, and be a “good news” junkie. When you turn on the news it is usually bad. This will affect your mindset. You will start to question things and have a hard time trusting. You will think negatively about the world you live in, and the world you are raising your kids in. I think we are prone to focus on the negative. Especially, when it is in front of us every minute of the day. Limit the news to a half an hour a day. Then, start to look for the good news. Talk about it with your friends and family. Share it on social media. After a while, it will become a habit and you will begin to feel better about yourself and the world you live in. I want you to find one good thing that has happened to you as a result of the pandemic.
  9. Approach each day with a purpose. Start by outlining daily structure. Each step is important to reach your goal. No task is too small to feel good about. This is where your inner critic can get in the way. Learn to be kind to yourself with your inner voice. Remember, small steps lead to big steps.
  10. Avoid being self-critical. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to see that there are always choices. This will prevent you from feeling trapped and help you to feel optimistic about the future. Use positive self talk. This will help you feel better about yourself and your choices. This will also start to rewire the brain. This is something you will need to practice daily. Remember, the brain is a muscle and it needs to be conditioned.
  11. Practice mindfulness. You can start with 10 minutes a day. Set up a time that will work for you, and practice mindfulness at the same time each day. Mindfulness involves using deep breathing techniques, body scans and mindful check-ins. This is good for your central nervous system. Practice whether you feel stressed out or not.

Take it one day at a time. You and your family will get through this. This is the new normal. It’s best to have healthy techniques to cope with it. A self-care plan will help you with that.

If you liked this article, there are more in Taking Care Of Yourself. It is filled with free tips that will help you feel better about yourself. When you feel better about yourself your family will notice. This means you will get along better with the people around you.

Lianne Avila is a Marriage & Family Therapist helping people in San Mateo, CA who are looking to create a life that is happier and more fulfilling. Please subscribe to Lianne’s newsletter on www.LessonsforLove.com to learn more about her services and expertise.

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