Let’s face it: In general, you are probably more concerned with your child’s well-being than your own. That’s natural, but it can also lead to burnout — fast. But no matter how busy you might be, taking care of yourself — mind, body and spirit — is essential to being the best parent you can be.
Keep reading to find ideas for big and small things that you can incorporate into your life that will recharge you, lower your stress (even if just for a few minutes) and help you to become a healthier and calmer parent.
If you have less than 5 minutes …
The Mayo Clinic reports that practicing meditation, even if only for a few minutes, can provide emotional and physical benefits. Some of the benefits may include reducing anxiety, building skills to manage stress and gaining new perspective on stressful situations.
There are many ways to practice mediation. It can sound like repeating a mantra (a word or phrase that is important or motivating) or look like a prayer (the oldest form of meditation). There are many video guides to five-minute meditations available for free online. A popular meditation website and app is headspace.com, which offers many five- to 20-minute guided meditations. The meditations are categorized by situation and need.
If you have 20 minutes or more …
Start a Gratitude Journal
Gratitude isn’t a new concept, but many wellness blogs and magazines have recently begun touting the exercise of listing what we are grateful for as an exercise in well-being. Studies have found that keeping a gratitude journal can improve sleep, lower stress and bolster interpersonal relationships.
There are many journals made especially for finding opportunities of gratitude available at brick-and-mortar and online bookstores. The One-Minute Gratitude Journal by Brenda Nathan is a bestseller currently. The layout is simple and consistent: date with space to write three to four “things” that the writer is grateful for, plus pages for drawings.
If an app is more your style, Gratitude is a free one. It’s available to Android and IOS users. The app will send you a morning text asking what you are grateful for, then when you respond, your response is sent directly to your online journal. You can even snap a picture to go along with it.
If you have less than an hour …
Find a Yoga Class
Besides providing the opportunity to exercise one’s strength, flexibility and balance, yoga offers an avenue to practice mindfulness.
“I primarily turn to yoga for physical benefits,” says Grace Lee Richards, mom of a 2-year-old and resident of Beavercreek. “As a mom, I am on my feet a lot to cook, clean and play. I also sit on the floor to play with my toddler, which bothers my back. I also have anxiety, and yoga helps me relax my mind.”
Richards doesn’t pay for a membership to a yoga studio, but instead has been able to find many free yoga classes online — her favorite is “Yoga with Adrienne.”
If you have a few hours…
Join a Book Club
A book club can be a meaningful, extended way to take time for yourself. Not only are you able to explore new genres and books, but every few weeks you get to spend time with a community connecting over reading.
Laura Wagner, mom to a 2-year-old and resident of Cincinnati says that being part of a book club gives her a reason to sit and take “me-time.”
“[Being part of a book club] helps set an example to my daughter to read books,” Wagner says. “I’ve made friends, and I get out of the house alone.”
Many libraries and bookstores offer book clubs to their patrons. There are also a number of virtual book clubs that can be found on websites such as Goodreads and Facebook.
It is easy to lose yourself in the endless cycle of school projects, carpooling, sports practices, laundry, meal planning and everyday life. Even spending as little as five minutes per day taking care of yourself can improve your mental and physical well-being.