It’s really important to look after your emotional and mental health as a parent. You probably know how to look after your physical health (eat vegetables, wash your hands, don’t run across the road, and so on), but it’s harder to know how to look after your mental health, especially since the Pandemic arrived. In my blog post this month I’d like to give some tips for helping you to navigate some of the challenges that might affect your mental health as a parent – you know, those problems you might have with your kids, other family members, school teachers and friends.
Before I give you some tips, let’s have a think about what your brain does and what happens inside it. Your brain is your body’s control centre. Yep that’s right, it’s in charge of almost everything you do. It processes information from all of your senses, for helping you to understand the world you live in. Did you know that every minute of every day your brain is thinking – wondering, remembering, daydreaming, judging and feeling (Experiencing emotions)!
Why do we have emotions? We likely have emotions because they help us survive. But they also tend to drive us crazy when given too much reign. The other reason why we have emotions is that they help us to build relationships and bind together our family and the communities we belong to.
Try to remember the last time you felt frustrated. Do you remember what you were thinking? Scientists have discovered that our emotions are often caused by our thoughts. I like this saying I use when I’m coaching, “What you think about, comes about”. This means two people could be in the same situation, but they might feel different emotions because they have different thoughts. So, don’t you think it’s important to become aware of what you’re thinking? You betcha! Because what you think about and the emotions you have drive your behavior.
Let’s move on to some tips for looking after your mental health…
Tip 1: Stay on top of things and change your inner conversations. Some styles tend to naturally be a little disorganized and find it difficult staying on top of things. If you can relate to this style, and when you know it’s going to get a little crazy time wise, why not plan your family meals a few days in advance. Or how about forgetting to use the word, “Should”, and replace it with, “Could” as this gives you so much more freedom to choose. E.g. Mm, I should have hung that washing on the line before I went to work, as the sun is shining”. Instead you can say, “Mm, I could have put the washing on the line before I went to work…” Try it and see how you feel.
Tip 2: Demonstrate that you care about yourself. What I mean by this is practice more self-care. Self-care does not have to be a massage or a trip to your favorite clothing store. It can be closing the door and removing yourself from an argument. Find small opportunities to sustain yourself each day. You’ll be setting a great example for your child for how to practice self-care.
Tip 3: Learn to recognize early signs of stress. Pay attention to where you feel stress in your body. Does your throat hurt? Do you feel hot or tight anywhere? By bringing awareness to what’s happening in your body, you’ll feel more in control. Some styles withdraw when under stress and will blame themselves for any conflict or mistakes they’ve made. Remember to practice self-kindness as these feelings will pass. Hope these couple of tips will help improve your mental health. For those parents that would like to join my parenting Facebook group you can go here Parent with Teens, Tween and Anything In between. I would love to hear your comments and please share with others if you have found this post helpful. Together we can create a kinder and more peaceful world.