5 Easy Ways to Practice Self Care

775_4552581Parents are on the front lines of caring for others all day, every day and without making self-care a priority, we can easily burn out.  When a parent hits burn out, the whole family suffers, so it’s crucial to make sure self-care happens. So often, the barrier to this is that we don’t recognize the power and importance of taking care of ourselves, or we feel guilty about it. Here’s the deal – YOU matter. YOU are important. YOU have an important job to do, every day, so YOU must practice self-care!

I know that can feel like I just added something to your endless to-do list, but I promise you, it will improve your life and your relationships so much that you (and your family) will thank me later! Once you start making yourself a priority, you will find your groove with it. As you will see, most of these points come down to making better choices for ourselves on a regular basis. These can be small steps that you build on over time. This isn’t a competition or a race. This is about a long-term lifestyle change. Don’t let yourself feel guilty for prioritizing wellness – this is a healthy example for your children. You aren’t taking anything from them by taking care of yourself – you are actually gifting them with a healthier parent. Don’t you want your parents to be healthy and happy? Don’t you want them to take care of themselves? What about your children, as they become young adults and parents themselves, don’t you want them to take care of themselves and to be happy and healthy? Yes, of course! Let’s get started then.

609_3591117Here 5 easy ways to incorporate self-care into your daily life.

1. Nourish your body: What can you do to fuel your body well today? Drink an extra glass of water? Eat breakfast? Have a healthy snack? The better you fuel your body, the better you will feel!

2. Nourish your mind: Don’t let the only thing you take into your brain each day be the list of to-dos and the theme song to your kid’s favorite show! Read a book or magazine, listen to a podcast, watch something fascinating. It’s so refreshing to engage your mind differently, and it will help you come at the regular day to day with a fresher perspective.

3. Nourish your spirit: Whether you describe yourself as religious or spiritual or not, you still have a spirit and it still needs to be fed! Prayer, meditation, and worship fall into this realm, but those aren’t the only ways to nourish your spirit. Take a deep breath and think back a little to when you were a child. What really made you come alive? What got your spirit soaring? Was it being outside, creating something, solving a puzzle? Whatever it is that lights you up inside, connect to it! Parenting can be tough on our spirits and we need to re-fuel them so that we can approach our children whole-heatedly.

4. Find your “free time”: Believe it or not, you do have some free time. I know, I know, it can feel like you don’t. But, you do. You just have to find it. Think about your day and think about the pockets of time you had waiting on something or someone, time you had that maybe you spent scrolling through your phone or watching TV. What if you restructured some of that time and claimed it as your own to do one of the things mentioned above? Or something else that brings you joy or satisfaction?

5. Practice rest: Many major world religions call for a day of rest. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. It’s been important to humans from the beginning of time, but still, we fight it. Don’t fight it. Maybe you aren’t willing or able to take an entire day of complete rest, that’s fine. But can you take an hour? Or maybe half a day? Can you at least have an “easy” day, where you just kind of do the bare minimum? It’s not lazy or selfish to rest. Rest doesn’t necessarily mean laying around all day (although it could). Maybe for you that means taking a hike, reading a book, playing board games with your kids. Maybe it’s a long drive to nowhere in particular or a frozen pizza and movie night. Whatever rest means for you, make time for it.

Parenting is a marathon of epic proportions, we have to pace ourselves. We have to treat ourselves with care.

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Rebecca Chasteen

Rebecca Chasteen

Becca Chasteen is a writer, coffee lover, substitute teacher, and mental health professional. She lives with her husband and two children in a small town on the outskirts of Charlotte.