After a tumultuous 2020 and a rather trying start to 2021, if there’s one thing we could all do with this year it’s a little extra self care.
Today’s fast-paced, always-on lifestyle can be stressful, with endless meetings and family responsibilities often leaving us feeling overwhelmed – but never has this been more the case that now, with many parents juggling a new way of working from home with home-schooling children and adapting to the current lockdown restrictions all at once.
It’s not just the adults that need their well-being looking after though, and now, more than ever, children need a little extra help, too. With such a dramatic change to the way they live, learn and play, it’s a lot to contend with for youngsters – and helping them find ways to deal with their feelings is essential to ensure they bounce back.
Overwhelm can manifest itself in many ways – with physical symptoms including tension headaches, fatigue and brain fog, as well as acne outbreaks and skin conditions. But often more worryingly, it can prove detrimental to mental health, with anxiety and depression both common outcomes where stress isn’t managed correctly.
If it all sounds a bit doom and gloom, then worry not – because there’s a simple solution that many of us simply aren’t taking into consideration. Making time for self care – and helping our children to do the same – is a simple way to ensure that all of your wellbeing – both physical and mental – are being looked after, and can be integrated easily into your day. Taking the time to refill your cup won’t just make you feel better, but will place you in a better position to deal with the daily demands of life. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty one, so cut yourself some slack and remind yourself that, sometimes, it’s OK to take a break.
If you’re unsure what exactly self care is or how you can make it a part of your day – never mind exactly how you can encourage the kids to take part – then read on, because these small acts of self-kindness will ease the pressure and soothe everyone’s minds when you need it the most, helping the whole family to live a happier and more productive life all round.
After a long day at work, sometimes you just need to treat yourself – and while a glass of wine or three might be your initial thought after clocking off, there are healthier ways to relax that will better benefit your mind. Snuggling on the sofa with a cup of tea and listening to an inspiring podcast or taking a long, hot bubble bath with a book will both help you to unwind effectively without the hangover. Add a luxurious face or hair mask and give yourself a bit of a pamper for the ultimate in rest and relaxation.
As for the kids, a snuggle session on the sofa works for everyone, and buying them a weighted blanket to place over themselves can help to ease anxiety and help them to relax. Try reading them a favourite story or chatting to them about their day – the extra quality time together will be appreciated.
Research has shown daily meditation to be effective in reducing stress, anxiety and other negative emotions, and taking ten minutes out in the morning to sit quietly, focusing on the breath, can leave you feeling better equipped to face the day.
Before getting ready to start work or deal with the kids, make some time for yourself. Sit in a comfortable seated position in a quiet room, away from any noise or distractions, and follow a guided meditation to clear your mind and raise your vibration. Apps such as Insight Timer, Headspace and Calm have a great selection of guided meditations if you’re new to the practice.
Getting the kids involved in this practice from a young age is a great idea, and one that can prove beneficial for them throughout their lives. There are some more great apps available that are aimed specifically at children, and that will teach them how to manage stress and anxiety early on in life.
Get ready for the day
While it can be tempting to sit straight down at your desk each morning without so much as showering or getting dressed while working from home, taking fifteen minutes to refresh yourself can make all the difference when it comes to your mood – and for children who are being home-schooled, getting them ready for the day is essential to maximise their capacity for learning.
It might have felt like a luxury to enjoy a slower start to the day during the first lockdown, but almost a year in, getting back into routine is crucial. Showering, washing your hair (or at least brushing it!) and putting on some makeup will make you feel ten times better fast – and ensuring that the kids wash their faces and give their teeth a good clean with an electric toothbrush will help them get into the right mindset for the day ahead. Best of all, none of you will be caught off guard by any impromptu Zoom meetings with the boss or their school teacher, which can prove rather stressful if you’re unprepared!
Keep a gratitude journal
After a long and stressful day, finding something to smile about can feel difficult – but keeping a nightly gratitude journal can be a great way to remind yourself to focus on the positives. There is always something good in every day – whether it was a win in the virtual boardroom or something as simple as the cup of tea your partner brought you or the drawings your children did for you. Take the time to write down all the little wins from your day, then elaborate on all the things you are grateful for in your life. This might be the people you have to support you, the clean air you have to breathe, or the holiday you have planned for later in the year – allow your imagination to run wild.
Teaching children to practice gratitude before lights out can be a soothing and calming way to prepare them for a good night’s sleep, and will teach them to look for the positives in life for a happier overall outlook long-term.
Plan a holiday
Let’s face it, we could all do with a holiday after the year we’ve had, and while travel restrictions might currently remain in place, there’s no reason you can’t start planning that luxury getaway for later in the year. From long, sandy beaches and dips in the sea to sumptuous fine dining dinners and glorious champagne cocktails, the thought of being waited on hand and foot and pampered to the maximum is bound to alleviate some of your stress, and having something to look forward to can help to improve wellbeing no end.
The children will love the chance to build sand castles and splash around in the sea – fun activities that the whole family can enjoy, and that will help you to bond as a family after a trying year.
Self care doesn’t have to be time consuming, and taking just fifteen minutes out of your day can be enough to reduce stress and burnout in both adults and children. Take care of yourself and the rest of the family this year – you deserve it, and both your mental and physical health will thank you for it.