This blog post originally appeared on One Tough Job, our parenting website.
Realistic Self-Care During Times of Stress
Self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent; it is a necessary part of staying healthy, especially in times of stress. It is essential to take time for yourself and step away from your busy life as a caregiver.
Here are 10 realistic self-care ideas you can do to help ease stress:
1. Get active.
Exercise is a proven way to relieve stress and promote happiness. Whether it’s a jog around the block, a walk through the local park, or yoga in the backyard, being active is a great way to practice self-care. Not into traditional exercise? Other outdoor activities like gardening are also great ways to be active.
2. Write or draw.
Starting a journal is a fantastic way to record and reflect on your feelings. One sentence or five-minute journaling are great places to start. If a journal doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, sketchbooks, adult coloring books, and crossword puzzles are great for taking a break and engaging your brain.
3. Connect with others.
Sometimes, all you need to decompress is to chat with someone. Call or video chat with friends for a quick pick-me-up or call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while to reconnect. Or, join any number of virtual parent support groups and talk with other moms and dads who are dealing with the same situations as you are.
4. Hone a skill or hobby.
This might be a good time to revisit a hobby you may have put aside or perfect a skill you’ve been working at. Whether it’s cooking, painting, playing an instrument, or even knitting, now is a good time to hop back in.
5. Practice "micro" self-care.
While you may not have time to dedicate a full day to self-care, there are lots of smaller forms you can incorporate into your busy schedule. It might be cooking your favorite dish, listening to your favorite music or podcast, or watching your guilty pleasure TV show.
6. Prioritize sleep.
Sleep is extremely important for everyone and is especially important for those who are taking care of others. Make a bedtime ritual and try to relax before going to sleep to help yourself get to sleep faster. On days when you feel you need it, make an effort to go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual so you can feel refreshed the next morning.
7. De-clutter something.
Clean a room, desk, or shelf that you’ve been ignoring. Even cleaning up your inbox, whether it be messages or emails, will put your mind at ease. Or simply get rid of five things you never use. Any kind of de-cluttering will relieve anxiety and put you in a better mood.
8. Be kind to yourself.
Often when being compassionate towards others, we forget to also be compassionate with ourselves. You’re a great parent who is doing the best you can. Remind yourself that “You’ve got this!” and that “Your best is enough.”
9. Utilize mindfulness.
Pay attention to what’s happening in the moment and accept all the emotions that you and your child are experiencing. Think about things that you are grateful for and allow those things to ground you. Practice deep breathing to help you calm down and reorient yourself.
10. Focus on your "top three."
Figure out what self-care practices bring you the most joy and try to do one daily. Remind yourself that self-care is part of a healthy lifestyle and that you aren’t being selfish in taking time for yourself.
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About One Tough Job
One Tough Job was launched to provide all parents with access to the information and resources that are available at Children’s Trust programs. For over ten years, the website has provided parents with the most current and reliable parenting information. Backed by thirty years of experience working with and listening to parents, One Tough Job connects parents in Massachusetts and beyond with the latest and greatest parenting information, ideas, and on-the-ground resources. One Tough Job also provides a bridge to help parents find other moms and dads who have asked the same questions and faced similar challenges.