Self-care is often misunderstood. It is sometimes seen as self-indulgence or selfish to focus on what you need but it can actually be one of the best ways to care for yourself and your family. Self-care is much more than taking an occasional bubble bath or binge- watching your favorite show after a difficult day. Instead, it is creating a routine and rhythm of taking care of yourself and your family in all areas of health including physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, social, and professional/academics. You can recognize quality self-care by the way it builds up to good health over time such as taking breaks when studying, walking in the evenings, or reflecting on the day together at family dinner time. Prioritizing self-care can be a game-changer for anyone but especially kids and teens. The habits and routines kids establish when they are young often stay with them throughout their life. Here are some tips to help you teach your kids the importance of self-care and make it a regular part of your day.
Self-care routine: Think of ways to add times of self-care into your existing family routine; it doesn’t have to take hours to be helpful. You could add a few self-care times in the day such as a quick stretch in the morning, listening to inspiring music, praying, or communicating how you feel. Bedtime can be a great time for kids to snuggle up with you for a moment and share how they are feeling; what they are concerned or excited about. Just as your family brushing their teeth daily adds up to better physical health, the whole family caring for their minds and relationships adds up to better mental health and can even help with depression and anxiety.
Take a break: Reaching goals and making progress can be really exciting for kids and parents, but when progress is not balanced with rest it can be damaging to our health. Try encouraging breaks by suggesting a nap after practice, a study break to talk with a friend, a break from technology to take a walk or play outside, or developing a relaxing bedtime routine to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night.
Be proactive: Don’t wait until your kids are feeling overwhelmed or stressed to start self-care, instead go ahead and put a routine in place so it is well established when stressful situations happen. Regular psychological and emotional self-care is a great way to keep your kid’s mind calm, relaxed, and prepared to cope with life difficulties such as a friend ignoring them or getting a bad grade on a test.
Self-care can be a fun and relaxing part of your daily routine and over time can add up to better overall health. Check out our resource page for more tips and resources to make self-care a regular part of your routine at thriveforwardtherapy.com/selfcare.
By Jennifer Wilmoth, LMFT