Top Tips for Taking Care of Your Mental Wellbeing as a Parent

As a parent, it is often too easy to neglect your feelings and wellbeing and just focus on your family. You are probably not the only one guilty of doing so, but as they say, you must put your own oxygen mask on before helping someone else. And this quote is a vital representation of the fact that you should make sure you take care of your own well-being first. Not to say you cannot take care of your families, but putting yourself first will mean you are much more mentally and physically prepared, resilient, and patient to support other people when they need you. 

Taking Care of Your Mental Wellbeing as a Parent

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Every individual has mental health, and you must treat it with the same respect as your physical health. Unfortunately, there are often a lot of feelings of shame or embarrassment around mental health, which usually results in individuals hiding it, or not seeking the support they need. Everyone feels emotional, overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious at times in their life, whether a parent or not, and it is important to know that these feelings are normal and that seeking support is good. Seeking the relevant support means you don’t adopt these kinds of feelings all the time, improve your quality of life, build resilience, stay strong for your loved ones, learn coping mechanisms that will help you every day, and make yourself better equipped to help others in your family. Most importantly, seeking help also enables you to model positive behavior to your family. You never know who else is struggling, and your actions towards seeking support and helping yourself could be the inspiration and strength that someone else needs to speak up and get support themselves. 

Many other factors contribute to your mental wellbeing as a parent, including your lifestyle and actions to choose to take on a daily, and weekly basis. Here are just a few top tips to help you look after your overall mental wellbeing as a parent.

1. Stay Connected Offline

As human beings, we are hardwired to be sociable. It is in your nature to stay connected with others and connected to a community. Without that connection, you run the risk of isolating yourself and in turn, seeing your mental health decline. Try to stay connected with some friends who you know you can count on for a laugh and a little fun when you need it. As a parent, it can be hard, but see if you can bring the kids together more often, or schedule a video chat once a week. Friends are a great way to look after your mental health, and as a bonus, provide you with an extra support system for when you feel you need it. 

2. Stay Active 

Exercise is a great way to stay healthy and help with your mental wellbeing. Exercise has been shown in a plethora of studies to help a range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and overall mood. Try to find time in your week, whether it is a small 10 minutes a day, or 40 minutes 3 times a week, to intentionally move your body. This can be in any form you wish, and preferably the ways in which you enjoy the most. This can be anything from dancing, walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, or weighted workouts. Make sure you start small so that you can make more sustainable changes and habits in your routine.

3. Spend More Time Outside

Even if it is just 5 minutes before you start work, or an hour at the park on the weekend, see where you can fit in time for nature. Plenty of studies have shown the profound impact nature can have on your mental wellbeing. Regardless of the weather, fresh air can make you feel great, as well as help you clear your mind, cheer you up and reduce any stress or anxiety you experience. 

4. Seek Support

As mentioned above, seeking support for your mental wellbeing is vital especially if you feel depressed, anxious, or an are struggling with substance abuse. Whether this is with a therapist, support group, or addiction treatment, it is important to find something that can best support you. What this support looks like will be very different for everyone, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look the same as someone else you know. The most important thing is that you find a means to support your mental and emotional being. A place or a person you feel safe to share and offload what you are going through, and who will help you, listen to you, and support you in developing your own coping mechanisms. 

Taking care of your mental wellbeing

5. Create and Stick to a Routine 

Not only are we sociable, but we are also creatures of habit. This means that you will thrive off a routine because your mind and body know what to expect. This simple act can be difficult to implement at first, as you get used to doing something new, but it can significantly impact your quality of life, and reduce the stress and anxiety you may feel each day. Start small to keep the pressure off you, for example, go for a walk every day, or get up at the same time every day. 

6. Develop Coping Strategies 

If you often find yourself feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, tense, or emotional, then developing coping strategies that work for you can help you manage yourself each day. There are many coping mechanisms out there, for example, grounding techniques, mindfulness, meditation, and breathing exercises, which are designed to bring you back into the present moment and calm down the anxiety you feel. Research and experiment with different techniques, and find one that best works for you. Then you have something to fall on when you are struggling. They can also be great to teach your children, so they learn how to positively deal with their emotions. 

7. Do More of the Things You Love 

Being a parent usually means the activities you are involved in are the things that your children love to do. While this is an amazing time to bond with your family, it is also important to make time to do something you enjoy yourself. Let go of any guilt you may feel, and try to arrange something you enjoy into your weekly or monthly routine. Perhaps it is a class, a walk, or a weekend away in a new city. When you fill your life with more things you enjoy, your happiness and quality of life will change drastically. You will also be a role model to your children, encouraging them to pursue the things they enjoy. 

8. Watch the Way You Talk to Yourself 

Being a parent is no easy job, and can often leave you feeling guilty for the things you think you haven’t done right, or should have done. Try to let go of what has happened, and start to pay attention to the way you are talking to yourself. Stop judging yourself, and instead, try to talk to yourself with more compassion. Everyone has to start somewhere, and life is all about learning and trying again. The way you talk to yourself really does matter and can impact your mental wellbeing in more ways than one. Not to mention, that children watch everything you do. So if you are nicer to yourself, your children will model that behavior, which in turn, will also help their mental wellbeing, self-esteem, and confidence. 

It is easy to put others before you, and no wonder when you have a family that you love. But it is important that you make sure you look after yourself, so you can better support your loved ones.

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