People need to take the time to do self-care, including parents. As much as parents need to take care of their children on top of other responsibilities, they also have to make time to do self-care to sustain their psychological and physical wellbeing. This would include participating in leisurely activities, exercising, healthy eating, and taking time to seek and maintain a social support system.
Parents and self-care
There are many studies that point to how practicing self-care can have a positive effect on a person’s health as well as life quality, satisfaction, and overall well-being. That is because engaging in self-care can significantly reduce stress, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and burnout. As such, it is important for people, more so parents, to allow some time to do a self-care routine.
Parents constantly lead a busy life of taking care of the family on top of household chores, work, and other duties. The daily hassle as a parent makes it seem impossible to have time for oneself. It is easy for parents to push away the need to do self-care because they think they have limited time, money, and social support. Thoughts such as having no time to relax because of tasks that need to be done or being too busy for anything else become an excuse for parents to put self-care on the back burner and forget about it.
Neglecting self-care for years will negatively affect the parents’ and children’s life. Parents who overlook their needs for self-care may be more vulnerable to feelings of stress, burnout, and depression. Those conditions will make it harder for parents to provide appropriate care for their children and family and manage other personal responsibilities. In fact, parents with less self-care and emotional dysregulation can negatively affect their children in terms of their mental health, psychological adjustment, and lifestyle.
Tips for practicing self-care
Parents need to take some time and space within their daily routine for self-care. Parents can implement self-care activities anytime and anywhere as long as they are doing it intentionally and consistently. Allocating even 5-10 minutes each day for self-care activities would definitely help parents decompress, whether it is done in the morning, while the children are asleep, or after dinner.
For self-care activities to have an impact on any parent’s life, the activities need to occur repeatedly to become a positive habit. Making these activities obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying can help practicing self-care becomes a feasible activity to do daily. It is also important to schedule when you want to do your self-care activities and inform your coparent, children, or other family members to let them know of it. Here are four components of self-care that parents can keep in mind to develop a healthy routine:
Relating to personal growth like learning and thinking, this is helpful for self-understanding and problem-solving. Self-care activities that can psychologically help you include journal writing, self-reflecting, and doing a digital detox. You can also spend time reading books or watching movies with your partner. You can also learn a new skill, like painting, knitting, or gardening with your children to help you recover from your duties as a parent.
This pertains to activities that can improve physical health, such as exercising, eating healthy food, and getting enough sleep. You can also spend time having a relaxing massage, taking a short walk with your children, spending intimate moments with your partner, or even going camping with family might help you recharge and refresh your energy.
It is important to seek a purpose and meaning in life. As such, you can do activities that can help such as meditation, yoga, and praying with family. Having a gratitude journal and writing about the three things you are thankful for throughout the day will help; you may even share it with your coparent and children to open up the communication on being grateful towards one another.
This involves doing activities that foster a positive relationship with others. You can have something as simple as having a romantic date night with your partner, scheduling time to talk with friends or family, or participating in volunteering activities with your communities. Joining an online support group to connect with other parents to share your struggles and accomplishments as a parent will also help you gain new tips in parenting and remind you that you are not alone.
Parents need to try several types of self-care activities to identify what works best for them. Parenting requires a lot of energy and patience, so it is important to recharge by having some alone time with yourself or with your coparent. This way, you can regain your energies in a healthy way while performing your duties as a parent and recognizing your individuality.
Every person experiences ups and downs in their life, from everyday challenges to traumatic events. Despite these challenges, people can exhibit a remarkable degree of adaptability in face of stressful events. Some individuals may seem to be more resilient than others, but most are not aware that this is an ability that can be learned and developed.
Over the years, a lot of studies have been done on resiliency. Early studies focused on understanding its process which later changed into learning how it can help us evolve positively. Even though genetic predisposition undeniably influences one’s resilience, Erika J Wolf et al. (2018) revealed that its heritability is only 25%, whereas the rest is influenced by environmental factors.
Resilience is a complex construct that involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions. The proportion of these factors vary in different risk contexts which then contributed to the notion that it is a process. Accordingly, it can be seen as an attribute or a trait possessed in varying degrees by an individual, a dynamic process with bidirectional relations to developmental and environmental factors, and as an outcome in the face of stress and adversity. Based on this concept, here are some strategies to increase your resiliency.
If resilience is the ability, self-care is the behavioral strategy to overcome difficulties. Self-care helps mitigate stress response to make it manageable. Moreover, practicing self-care promotes wellness and restores a sense of wellbeing during difficult times. However, people often think of self-care as a recreational activity which is not exactly true.
Practicing a healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition, regular physical activities, and ample sleep — all of which are basic self-care routines. Other ways to practice self-care include developing better hygiene and applying health protocols, especially during this recent pandemic. Also, rather than consuming alcohol, drugs, or other harmful substances to eliminate stress, you can instead try to explore other, healthier options such as seeking medical care when needed.
Spending some quality “me time” could also be part of self-care to balance between your professional and personal life. As the name indicates, it is more about time to give yourself all the love and positive energy that you need. Scott Barry Kaufman demonstrated in his study that 72% of participants produced new ideas in the shower which is considerably more than at their workplace. The heat and the feeling of isolation of this moment can also help unblock your thought process.
Perception in life
One can find their purpose in life through deep contemplation of what they want to do and what they’ve experienced so far, followed by developing realistic plans to achieve these goals. Working towards your aspirations in life will help broaden your view of other people’s circumstances. Being cognizant of others may help strengthen your own resilience in the face of adversity. It may also contribute to a healthier regulation of any negative emotions you may experience.
Interactions with others, however, could influence one’s thoughts, which in turn, affects one’s feelings and behaviors. Judith S. Beck (1964) hypothesized that people’s emotions and behaviors are influenced by their perceptions of events rather than by the event itself.
The key here is to challenge inaccurate thoughts which have negative impacts. Keep things in perspective by identifying and eliminating irrational thoughts. Then, follow it up by maintaining an optimistic view by learning from the past and accepting change as a part of life.
Challenging inaccurate thoughts is also needed when interpreting new information. For example, researchers have concluded that exposure to stressful experiences enhances resilience as the result of a more efficient adrenaline release. However, it only refers to exposure when stressful events are perceived as challenging rather than a threat. The thought process to arrive at this conclusion is important because literal interpretation may lead to more detrimental effects by engaging yourself in so-called ‘bad’ exposure.
As social beings, people need to rely on each other as social connections hold importance in one’s life. It promotes resilience to deal with negative emotions such as feelings of distress and worry, especially in these difficult times as all aspects of life recover from the global pandemic. Therefore, building a support network should be prioritized.
Trying to join a community could be the first step in broadening a network. Connecting with people who can understand and empathize without judgment of a person’s situation can also be a great source of emotional support, especially when experiencing hardships. Nevertheless, good communication skills are needed to strengthen the relationship such as assertive communication. Assertiveness is an effective and non-confrontational way of expressing one’s thoughts regarding a particular situation or concept.
Another thing that needs to be pointed out is that social support acts as a resource for one’s resilience. Resilience is never about facing difficulties alone with your own resources. It means knowing the boundaries of what you can do and seeking help from others when needed. While it has been mentioned that you can find support within your community, seeking help within your family and friends or formal settings with professionals is also an option.
Resilience is the ability to adapt and recover from adverse events. As such, resilience can be learned and developed by using strategies that focus on behaviors, thoughts, and actions. Self-care behaviors, healthy thinking, and gathering social support are recommended strategies to help build your resilience.
These strategies highlighted not only internal factors but also the influence of external factors in resilience. You can try to adopt a healthy lifestyle and thinking to improve on it, but there are limitations in what you can do alone. It is also a question of how long you can survive fighting alone, especially in a period of uncertainty. Supporting each other would help enhance your resiliency.