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Self Care Isn't Selfish

May 4, 2016

Self Care Mom

While parenting is full of joyful moments, the day-to-day responsibilities and decisions of raising children can be demanding, exhausting and stressful. Stress can affect your body, thoughts, feelings and behavior. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones and increasing your heart and breathing rates while your brain is getting more oxygen, giving you an edge in responding to stress-inducing problems. So, in the short term, stress helps you cope with tough situations. However, negative life events like an illness, loss of employment, violence, divorce or homelessness can keep your body’s stress levels consistently elevated, which can cause negative health effects.

Taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your children. In order to fill their cups, it is important to take the time to make sure your cup is full, too. The whole family will feel the effects if you are over-stressed and overburdened. Afterall, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

It may seem impossible to find the time and energy to take care of yourself or you might feel guilty or selfish for thinking about your own needs. But try to avoid falling into the “super mom” trap. You don’t have to do everything on your list before you can relax. Make enjoying moments with your family a priority–you’re setting a positive example for your children!

Stress-relieving tips for parents

Incorporate small acts of self-care into  your daily routine. Here are some tips to help relieve stress in less than 15 minutes.

  • Meditate. Sit with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing. Think of good times and let any distracting thought float away.
  • Be present in the moment. Be still for a few minutes and focus on your senses. What do you hear, smell and see around you?
  • Reach out. Your social network is one of the best tools for handling stress. Talk to someone you trust and share what’s going on.
  • Tune in to your body. Lie on your back and close your eyes. Starting at your toes and working your way up to your scalp, notice where your body feels tense and try to relax. Breathe deep.
  • Decompress. Place a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles. Remove the wrap and then use a tennis ball or foam roller to massage away tension.
  • Laugh out loud. A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load mentally, it lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone. It also helps boost brain chemicals called endorphins, which help elevate your mood.
  • Listen to music. Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety.
  • Move. Go for a walk, do some head and shoulder rolls. All forms of exercise can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals, which helps your body deal with stress.
  • Be grateful. Celebrate the little things in life. Keep a gratitude journal to detail all the little things that are good in your life like your child’s smile, a sunny day or good health..

It is important to take time to take care of yourself because when you care for yourself you are caring for your family. Relax! It’s good for you and it takes less time than you think.

This article was written for the May 2016 edition of Parent Source.