While you’ve been dealing with work-related changes and navigating the new normal, your parenting responsibilities may have expanded in ways you never could have imagined: Tutor. Daycare provider. Play date organizer. If you don’t have the time or skill set for these roles, you may feel more stressed and overwhelmed than usual.

As parents, it’s important to take well-deserved breaks to de-stress and care for your mental health.

Why Self-Care May Help You Be a Better Parent

You’ve probably heard flight attendants say in the event of cabin-pressure changes, you should put on your own oxygen mask before helping your kids put their masks on. This is because oxygen is needed for you to remain conscious and assist your children.

Think of self-care as the oxygen mask in your everyday life: To care for your kids effectively, you must first take care of yourself. If you’re used to putting other people’s needs ahead of your own, you may feel too guilty to care for yourself – but it’s especially necessary during stressful, unprecedented times.

Practicing self-care may help you:

  • Lower your stress levels.
  • Sleep more soundly.
  • Feel more energized.
  • Make healthier choices regarding diet and exercise.
  • Improve your relationships.
  • Lower your risk of depression.

How To Practice Self-Compassion

One effective way to practice self-care is to be more self-compassionate. If you’ve ever been kind and understanding to a friend who was having a bad day, you’ve been compassionate to others. Here’s how to extend those feelings toward yourself:

  • Recognize that you’re having a hard time. Don’t judge yourself, just accept it.
  • Be patient, kind and comforting. Think about what you’d tell a friend in the same situation, then tell yourself those things.
  • Remember that you aren’t alone. Everyone faces challenges, so think of your difficulties as a common thread that unites you with the world around you.

Other Ways To Practice Self-Care

Try to find as many ways as possible to lower your stress levels before reaching the point of feeling overwhelmed. Eat healthy foods and get enough physical activity and sleep. Adjust your mindset, schedule breaks into your day and make time for activities that you find enjoyable. Here are some ideas:

  • When it comes to parenting, aim for good enough instead of perfection.
  • Call someone who can make you laugh and remind you that you’re a good parent.
  • Take a walk – the physical activity and sunshine may lift your spirits.
  • Read a book, work on a hobby, take a long shower or do something else for 15 or 20 minutes that’s solely for your own enjoyment.
  • Spend less time on social media if posts from other parents make you feel inadequate.

Stress and Self-Care

Stress can be good or bad, but can take a toll on our body either way. If we can find ways to work self-care into our daily schedule, we can get to the point where we are functioning at our best. Our behavioral health expert shares three tips for incorporating self-care into your routine.

10 Ways to Show Yourself Love

Most of us can find ways to show others we care, but what are we doing for ourselves on a regular basis? From making lists to setting a personal goal, here are 10 tips on how to get started.

Four Mental Health Benefits of Journaling

Journaling is an incredible skill for young people to develop that can have long-lasting effects on their lives. It helps kids positively express their emotions while improving their mental health, confidence and resilience. Learn why you might want to pick up a pen and paper and model this behavior with your children.