Reframing Self-care: the Positive Power of Looking After Yourself
PUT YOURSELF IN THE PICTURE
Imagine you’re looking after yourself well.
You’re tending to your emotions, your body, your mind and your social life.
Being a parent or carer is busy, but you're also focusing on your own wellbeing and needs. What would that feel like for you?
How calm would you be, if you had the inner reserve to respond positively when difficult things happen?
That’s where self-care - the things you can do to nurture your needs and wellbeing - can make a difference.
Parenting can feel easier when you take care of yourself. Children can benefit from this too. Not only through the flow-on effect of your interactions with them, but also by learning and understanding what self-care looks like for them. It's a win-win for everyone.
Rather than being an indulgence or a nice-to-have, self-care is one of the most important gifts you can give to yourself. It can help to boost your resilience, patience and positivity as a parent. And it needn’t be costly or take up much time. You can achieve it in small, realistic steps.
DO YOU STRUGGLE TO FIT SELF-CARE INTO YOUR LIFE? YOU’RE NOT ALONE
Even though self-care is not a fix-all for the huge demands on a parent's life, research suggests that parents can improve their mental health and decrease their levels of fatigue by practising self-care.
Self-care leads to calmer, more consistent positive parenting, and this can have a powerful influence on children.
Yet many parents find it hard find the time, energy or resources to look after themselves.
In fact, a 2022 survey of Australian parents found that 3 in 5 don’t routinely do anything to relax and reenergise, 2 in 5 feel that tiredness can get in the way of being the kind of parent they want to be, and nearly half of all parents feel they do not have enough time to get everything done.
With so many demands to juggle, it’s easy to see why self-care feels like yet another item on your to-do list.
And if you're always putting others first? You might even feel guilty taking time for you.
The good news is, self-care doesn’t have to be an indulgence, an expensive investment, or something you must squeeze into your schedule.
It’s anything you can do, moment to moment and day by day, to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and socially.
In many ways, it could be helpful to see self-care as being a parent to yourself. What do you need to do to relax, recharge and feel calm? Breaking those needs down into achievable actions can help make them more manageable.
You could build on something you’re already doing for yourself. After all, you’re the expert on what works for you.
Here are some tips to get you started.
BEING KINDER TO YOURSELF
Parenting brings plenty of special moments. But it’s likely that you will, at times, feel discouraged or critical of your parenting. And while self-care can’t fix everything, it can help prevent your inner critic from taking over, or at least quieten the voice.
In turn, it helps children learn to be less critical of themselves and more forgiving of their own setbacks. Simply put, self-care can help you be a more positive, calmer parent who models those life skills of looking after yourself back to their children.
You can build on what you already know works. And rather than being a big change, you can fit self-care into your life in small doses.
Imagine what those moments could mean for you, and your children.
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