Things are tough right now, and that means practicing self-care is more important than ever.
The last couple of weeks have brought numerous changes to our daily lives, especially as parents. Schools and daycare facilities are closing, many parents are working from home, and shopping for essentials is tough. Ask the average parent how they’re feeling right now, and most will probably respond with “stressed.”
As a parent, you’re probably focused on how to care for your children during this time, but it’s important that you don’t forget about taking care of yourself. With your own anxiety and worries under control, you’ll be able to help your children get through this time as well.
Here are 5 easy but very effective ways to practice self-care and relieve stress while staying confident and optimistic.
1. Reach out to fellow parents or even parent groups on social media when you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated.
Juggling social distancing with working from home and homeschooling your kids at the same time can make any parent feel overwhelmed. Knowing you’re not alone in your struggle can not only boost your confidence but also serve as an outlet to relieve stress.
If you’re feeling frustrated, reach out to a fellow parent friend or look for parent support groups on Facebook. Sometimes stress doesn’t come from a single problem but rather an overload of emotions. By texting or calling a friend or checking in with your parent group, you’ll get some worries off your mind, and we bet you’ll also find that many parents feel the same way.
2. Take advantage of FaceTime, Skype, and other free video chat apps to keep in touch with friends and family.
Phone calls and text messaging are convenient, but going without actually seeing the people you love can take a toll on your well-being and raise your stress levels. Social distancing might keep you physically apart, but video chatting is a wonderful substitute.
There are plenty of free video chat apps out there, from FaceTime for Apple users to Facebook Messenger. Skype is also free and is perfect for group video chats. You can video chat with up to 50 people at a time on Skype, making it perfect for holding a virtual family or friend get-together.
If you’re feeling rundown from a lack of socializing, daily video chats can really improve your mood. Plus, it gives your kids a chance to see their grandparents and friends!
3. Staying in the know is important, but try to limit how much news you’re consuming—especially on social media.
Staying informed is really important right now, but spending all of your time watching the news or reading related posts on social media can have a negative effect. If you find your stress levels rising as you scroll through Facebook or while you’re watching the news on TV, that’s a good sign you need a break.
Right now is a really good time to take a breather from social media by limiting how much time you spend on it. You might also limit watching the news channel when you’re having your morning coffee. For some people, reading news articles is less stressful than watching videos.
If you feel anxious about wanting to check the news, distracting yourself with baking some cupcakes with your kids or heading out to the backyard to play catch can ease your tension and create some wonderful memories at the same time.
4. Grab a yoga mat or some dumbbells and squeeze in a 30-minute workout while the kids are busy.
Diving into a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream and laying on the couch can be really tempting when you’re stressed. Although indulging your cravings can provide comfort, it’s only temporary. Right now, it’s more important than ever to boost your health (and your immune system) while also kicking stress to the curb. The solution? Just 30 minutes of exercise!
Research has continually proved for decades that regular exercise relieves stress, and in most cases, it’s a nearly immediate effect. The gym might be out of the question, but you can still do bodyweight exercises, strength training with dumbbells or bands, and yoga at home. You can find guided workout routines online for free (check out YouTube) and even use video chat with a fitness friend to keep you both motivated.
All forms of exercise are great for relieving stress, and it’s good to practice flexibility, strength training, and cardio to stay well-rounded. However, studies do show that hatha yoga is ideal if you’re specifically exercising for stress-relief.
5. Write down your worries, concerns, and general thoughts instead of keeping them inside.
Talking with someone you trust is always a great idea, but expressive writing has been shown to be even more effective at relieving stress and pent-up emotions and can even help you regain focus on the important things in life. If you’re a private person or you find yourself still feeling frustrated after trying to talk with a loved one about your stress, grab a journal and try writing instead.
The goal of expressive writing is to let your mind go and write down whatever happens to pop up instead of trying to focus on writing about one thing in particular. If you enjoy guided journaling, you can also try that approach by focusing on specifically writing about what might be bothering you and the emotions you’re experiencing.
Whatever style of writing that best reduces your stress is the right one for you.
Dr. Judith Shea and her team look forward to seeing you and your children when we return to our office.
To keep our young patients, their families, and our community safe through social distancing, we’re following CDC guidelines by temporarily closing.
If your child has a dental emergency during this break, you can give our office a call and get our emergency-only number from our answering machine message.