Essential, Stress Reducing Self-Care
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (more parenting articles are available)
Do you find yourself feeling guilty when you think about taking time for yourself? If you’re a parent, there are a million other things that need to be done - laundry, dishes, helping with homework, making dinner, driving the kids around and the list goes on.
Do you feel like there isn’t enough time to get all the things you’d like to have done each day? Is your schedule crammed full? Does adding your own self-care to that list make it feel even more overwhelming?
Taking care of yourself is always important and it’s even more critical if you are feeling overwhelmed. Nobody will do it for you – in fact others are likely to encourage you to put even more on your plate that has nothing to do with taking care of yourself!
What is self-care?
Renée Trudeau, author of Nurturing the Soul of Your Family
, defines self-care as “the art of attuning and responding to your needs and desires, moment to moment”. If you have focused on attending to others for many years, it can be hard to tune into your own needs. It may even seem foreign to consider what your needs are, let alone your desires.
What does self-care look like to you? Moment to moment you may have different answers. Self-care may be:
- Singing, dancing, doing yoga
- Biking, hiking, swimming, going for a run
- Playing the piano, strumming the guitar, tapping on drums
- Taking a nap
- Saying “no” to a request
- Saying “I need to think about that. I’ll get back to you.”
- Meditating, praying
- Painting, drawing, sewing, knitting, wood carving
- Gardening, cooking, baking
- Taking a hot bath
You are the only one who truly knows your needs and desires. It’s up to you to reflect on what you most need and prioritize getting your needs met.
Why is self-care essential?
You can neglect your self-care for a while, maybe even years. Eventually it catches up with you in the form of discontent, depression, disease or an uneasy feeling that there must be more to life.
Tragically some parents end up at this point and become suicidal. A mother of three wonderful kids found herself feeling increasingly depressed. Although her children were all excelling in school and other activities, she just wasn’t satisfied … not with them and not with herself.
She eventually got to such a low point that she turned to professionals for help. After a year of hard work, she rebalanced herself and overcame her depression. Much of what she had to do was start putting herself first. She had to figure out what activities she wanted to pursue … not for her family but for herself.