Self-Care Tips for Parents and Caregivers from a Health Psychologist
Parents, grandparents and any adults who care for children are amazing people with tough jobs. As a caregiver, you may be juggling multiple roles while prioritizing your family’s health and safety, especially during stressful situations.
But don’t forget: your health matters, too! Prioritizing your well-being can help you be a better caregiver for your children and family members.
As a health psychologist, I understand the pressure you may be feeling to “do it all” and am here to encourage you instead to do the best you can while practicing comprehensive self-care. From making sure you get enough sleep to incorporating short physical activity breaks throughout your day, self-care can come in many shapes and sizes.
Here are 5 of my favorite psychology-backed tips for practicing self-care to relieve stress, boost physical and mental health, and continue supporting your family:
- Take care of your body to take care of your mind: When you can, take time to exercise, connect with loved ones (even virtually), eat fruits and vegetables, and maintain a healthy sleep routine. Remember - it’s okay to take small steps!
- Give yourself some space: This is especially important if you are sharing space with others and juggling multiple tasks at once. Choose one place within your environment to call your own, such as a room, desk or spot in your home. If you are working from home with other people try using a cue, such as a sign, to indicate when you are available to interact. Watch this short video for even more tips to create personal space in a busy home.
- Focus on what you can control: When we are overwhelmed, it can be easy to get stuck in a cycle of worry and stress. Practice identifying what you can control (e.g., making a list, calling a friend) and accepting what you can’t (e.g., child’s school assignments, the news).
- Schedule a daily “worry window”: Psychologists have discovered that some people may benefit from scheduling a short time frame each day to worry, so they can be more at ease during the rest of the day. If you are having regular anxious thoughts, try scheduling 15 minutes each day to focus on those thoughts. During this time, you can write down your thoughts or just focus on them. Outside of this scheduled time, practice focusing on the moment and reminding yourself to save your concerns for your next “worry window.”
- Congratulate yourself for a job well done: Remind yourself that everything you are doing to support loved ones is making a difference and it is okay not to "do it all." Breathing and living one day at a time is a huge accomplishment!
Want more self-care tips? Check out our recent webinar, “Comprehensive Self-Care for Educators,” presented in partnership with Kaiser Permanente and Harmony SEL. While designed for educators, the information and tips we shared are relevant for everyone – especially parents and caregivers!
What tips do you have for managing stress and practicing self-care? Let us know on Twitter at @HealthierGen.