Self-care 101 for parents
When you’re on a plane with your child or loved one during an emergency, flight attendants instruct you to place your own oxygen mask and then assist the person next to you. The reason for this is simple — if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t help others. Bayhealth Primary Care Physician Lisa Reid, MD, says the same is true for parents and caregivers of young and old.
“There’s an expectation for some parents that they have to be perfect at everything — their job, doing everything with their kids, maintaining the house, doing laundry. We need to remember it’s OK to say no. It’s OK to take time for yourself,” Dr. Reid said.
How can parents become better about taking care of themselves? Dr. Reid recommends the following self-care tips to her patients.
Make a commitment to self-care
Self-care doesn’t mean you take an entire day to yourself; maybe it’s one hour or merely five minutes. Either way, make time for yourself.
Ask for help
Ask someone — family members or a local college student — to watch your children for a couple of hours, whether it’s to unwind or focus on cooking a meal. We all need help sometimes and it’s OK to ask for it.
Take care of your health
This includes eating right, practicing good sleep habits and exercising. Living a healthy life reduces stress and makes you feel better.
Find three things to look forward to
Living the same day over and over again can lead to burnout. Find three things to look forward to, to get out of mundane schedules. These could include a vacation, a trip to the mall or a visit to the spa.
Find a hobby
Pick a small activity that you like to do and make time for it. It could be painting, meditating, reading, scrapbooking, or anything else that you enjoy.
Go on date nights
It’s important for couples to make time for each other and to continue nurturing their relationship.
Take a break from social media
Social media is a great way to stay connected to people, but can lead to unrealistic expectations and comparisons. Periodic breaks from social media can help a person’s mental state.
Understand kids go through phases
Whenever you’re overwhelmed with your children, take some deep breaths and remember that “this too shall pass.” They’re going to grow up and move out so it’s important to enjoy the time you have.
Along with these self-care tips, Dr. Reid also tells her patients to let the little things go. “Let go of the stress of not getting everything you want done and the need for perfection. Worry can lead to more serious health issues,” Dr. Reid said.
Talking to your doctor about self-care can help you get back on track. If you’re in need of a primary care physician, visit Bayhealth's Find a Doctor page to learn more about our doctors.