Self-care is a popular mental health concept, particularly in parenting circles with numerous sources telling us we need to take time out for ourselves.
As parents we don’t need scientific studies to tell us we are exhausted and burnt out. We are living the dream!
“You can’t pour from an empty cup” is my favourite self-care euphemism.
However, self-care is more than just getting a massage or catching the latest rom-com with the girls. These are undoubtedly great things to do to refill your cup, along with bubble baths and getting your nails done. But they are all fairly superficial things with little residual effects.
For true self-care I believe we need to look deeper. How many of us take the time to look after our emotional selves?
Whatever we are feeling, whether fragile, vulnerable, stressed or frustrated, chances are this will impact the rest of our lives and how we interact with those around us, particularly our children.
Here are some ways we can practice emotional self-care:
- Pay attention to your self-talk. We are often our own worst critics. Make an effort to be kinder to the most important person in your life!
- Check and set personal boundaries. With so much going on in our hectic lives, we often let things (and people) encroach on our boundaries, which can wear us down further. Remind yourself it is ok to say “No”.
- Acknowledge mistakes and let them go. None of us are perfect. Stop beating yourself up about the little things and move on.
- Get the gratitude attitude. So much more than a catchy phrase. Taking time to be grateful for the gifts in our lives can give us a healthy dose of perspective.
- Get in touch with your emotions. Sometimes fear looks like anger or hurt looks like hostility. Sit with your feelings, acknowledge them and work through them.
- Let it all out. Emotions aren’t just for the inside. Let them out through whatever medium works for you. Journaling or drawing are great ways to do this but physical outlets are also very effective.
- Have a ritual. Rituals can be very grounding. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A short meditation, a mindfulness exercise before bed or even the simple act of making your favourite pot of tea can be a calming and soothing ritual to include in your everyday.
These are just some examples of emotional self-care that we can practice regularly to sustain us while we are on this rollercoaster ride of parenting.
By doing these things we are not only improving our own emotional wellbeing, we are setting a great example for our kids on how to foster emotional intelligence.
The best part about emotional self-care is that it can be done anywhere, anytime. Whether you are sitting in traffic, meditating in your room or jogging around the block, you can practice emotional self-care.
We recommend in the bath with a glass of wine.