Parenthood- one of the most rewarding yet overwhelming and frustrating roles an individual may undertake. As a parent, I often find myself trying to “keep up” with other parents–signing my kids up for tons of activities and often losing sight of myself. It is extremely important for parents to practice self-care. Today we will review the three tiers of self-care so you can apply them to your daily life.
Tier 1 – Exercise
Exercise is extremely important for your mental health. It is a great coping skill for stress and boosts mood by releasing endorphins. Endorphins are natural hormones created by the body that create a feeling of euphoria or combat depression. Exercise helps to give you extra energy to keep up with your little ones without feeling as tired. A couple of ideas to add exercise into your routine are waking up 30 minutes earlier for a morning workout or walk, making time to exercise after the kids go to bed, or exercising as a family by going for walks, bike rides, and spending time playing at the park.
Tier 2 – Sleep
With children, sleep often becomes a rare treasure. On average an individual of any age would benefit from 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep not only helps the body to recover, but a good night’s rest benefits a person’s emotional well-being. Studies have found that lack of sleep is linked to depression, anxiety, increased difficulty for decision making and difficulty with mood regulation. Be aware of your sleep routine and how much sleep you are getting each night. Try to take care of yourself and improve your sleep by going to bed a little earlier or taking a quick nap when the kids are at school or napping themselves.
Tier 3 – Yourself!
The third tier of self-care is self! Often parents lose sight of themselves. They become absorbed within their child’s life and activities. It is great for a parent to be involved, but it is also okay for the parent to take a little time for themselves. Some examples of self are finding a hobby, joining a class, or meeting up with friends. Taking time to remember the person you were pre-parenthood and what that person did for fun. Discovering an enjoyable activity or even just getting out of the house (besides work of course!). Maybe planning a date night with your significant other to allow yourself a little break. As a part of self-care, it is important to have a support network to share your parenting successes and to problem solve your struggles. Support helps us to feel connected and not alone.
Establishing Self-Care Through Therapy
If you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed, notice a change in appetite (increase or decrease), have trouble sleeping (not kid related), feel fatigued, irritable, lack of energy, lack of concentration, withdraw and hopeless, you may benefit from speaking to a therapist because having children can be a huge adjustment. A professional therapist can help develop appropriate coping skills and self-care strategies. Please contact Perspectives Counseling Centers at (248)244-8644 to learn more about our family counseling programs in Troy, MI.