According to Dr. Whitney Casares, a board-certified pediatrician with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Taking small chunks of time for yourself as early on as possible is one of the best ways to keep yourself from feeling trapped or overwhelmed. Keeping yourself happy and healthy will allow you to give the best care possible to your kids.” Additional benefits of self-care include:
- Reduced feelings of stress or anxiety
- Improved self-soothing abilities
- Boosted self-esteem and self-compassion
- Increased social skills
The intention of self-care is to address which areas of your life may need more attention than others, and these needs change daily! Reflect on your day and think about what you do to preserve or improve your health for the day. Here’s a quick checklist to use when deciding what your self-care needs are for the day:
- Am I nourished? Emotions and stressors are often heightened when you feel hungry. Making sure that you’re fed and hydrated is an easy self-care practice and helps you stay focused on the day ahead. Check out this article for some nutritious breakfast ideas.
- How does my physical body feel? Do you notice some tension in your shoulders? Do you have a headache? Do whatever you need to do to address those discomforts right away, whether that’s doing some quick stretches or taking some ibuprofen, so you can move through your day with a clear mind and a comfortable body.
- What is my mental and emotional state? Some days can be more tiring than others, and that’s totally normal. Checking in with your feelings and mental health right away is a great way to identify what your needs might be for the rest of the day. Feeling lonely? Schedule coffee with a friend! Feeling overwhelmed? Sounds like a chance for some alone or quiet time!
Self-care has many forms, but it can sometimes be considered as things that are more elaborate than they need to be. While brunches and massages are wonderful, there are many simple activities that are considered self-care that don’t require anything more than yourself and a little bit of time.
- Schedule time alone. If you’re anything like us, the constant go-go-go of life can become draining. Plan at least 10-20 minutes a day where you can take a break and enjoy some alone time. You can decide how it happens, whether it’s all at once or in 5-minute spurts throughout the day, but alone time gives you the opportunity to reconnect with yourself and recharge your mind and body however you need.
- Keep a journal. Log your experiences, both good and bad. Writing is an amazing way to process and work through emotions on the challenging days. It’s also a great way to practice mindfulness! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, look up previous positive experiences to bring a smile to your face.
- Engage in physical activity. Evidence shows that regular physical activity increases energy and reduces your risk for health problems. Movement can also be a fun way to release stress or frustration. Stretching or going on a quick walk are both quick and easy ways to get started.
- Keep a list of your essential daily tasks. Prioritize your self-care by writing down a few non-negotiable, simple self-care tasks. Have you had some water? Check! Have you moved your body? Check! It always feels good to check things off your to-do list and simple tasks that you can complete daily can help you feel motivated and more in control. Small amounts of consistent success and accomplishment are also connected to feelings of happiness.
- Unplug for a while. Set aside some time in your daily schedule to disconnect from your technology. Start a new book. Enjoy some time with family and talk about each other’s days. Unplugging can encourage you to release any existing mental tension and recharge your mind. To learn more about the options you have to unplug, read our article Making Unplugging Easy.
Even if these ideas seem too simple or you already have them in your daily routine, you can always level up your self-care with something a little more special. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to self-care. It must change and evolve with you. That’s why it’s important to try different self-care activities to keep things fresh and help you create a routine that fits your schedule and your needs and recharges you at the same time.
Remember, taking time to yourself, being creative, making a meal—all these things count as an act of self-care. Whether you or your kids face stress, anxiety, or have difficulty dealing with change, there are many different self-care options for you to try, individually or as a family.
“It all starts when you decide that you’re worth 5 minutes a day.” – Dr. Casares
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