It is the season of love. Cherry red cards and candy-filled hearts abound. But how about showering so much needed attention on YOU? After all, you probably spread yourself thin all year long taking care of your family. Is now the time to hit the pause button and focus on you? Yes!
While a weekend in Fiji would be great, it’s likely not in the cards—not instantly, anyway!
Let’s look at simple, doable ways to invest in your own wellbeing.
Self-care for parents
It sounds simple, but are you truly drinking enough water? Dehydration can lead to feelings of depression as our bodies slow down without enough water to keep things moving along. Make it easy on yourself by setting up water stations around your home: pretty pitchers of water can be a nice reminder to fill ‘er up. Carrying a reusable water bottle in your bag makes it easy and handy to wet your whistle.
Studies show that cardio is as effective as medication in treating depression, so build a routine around 20 minutes of cardio three times a week. No gym membership? No problem. Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube have exercise classes you can put on at home. Taking the stairs, getting off at a stop before your usual station or bus stop and hoofing it the rest of the way home, holding a private dance party at home as you crank some tunes. In short, find ways to build exercise into your daily routine that are easy and fun. One client told me she wears her workout gear to bed so she has no excuses not to go out for a run first thing. Hey—make it easy on yourself!
I hear time and again from moms who are desperate for time to themselves, with no one clinging to their person. It can definitely be tricky to find that time but it’s worth it to break out of the calendar and schedule dates with yourself. Losing your own sense of self after becoming a parent is an extremely common concern. I’m a parent now. Is that it? Am I still a partner, friend, lover, employee, son, or daughter? How do I make it all work? How do I incorporate all of these roles into my new post-baby life? Taking solo time allows you to process and integrate these identities at your own pace by granting some distance and perspective.
Flummoxed by the question ‘what do you do for fun?’ Don’t be. Find small things that give you joy that you can do daily. Like to see your friends? Fire off a group text about brunch this weekend. Like to read? Renew your digital subscriptions for your favorite newspaper or magazine. Like to laugh? Sign up for a funny podcast. Finding small ways to treat yourself can make a huge difference in shifting your mood and lifting your spirits.
Focusing on your needs by not neglecting yourself pays dividends for all those around you. Self-care is not selfish. It is essential!
Olivia Bergeron, LCSW, has a private psychotherapy and parent coaching practice and specializes in helping moms and dads face challenges with grace. She has three children and lives in NYC. Need some help? Visit www.mommygroove.com to contact Olivia and learn more about how she can help you.