Self-care is something I’m always telling parents to do and a key aspect of NVR, yet I’m bad at doing it myself! The week before Christmas I realised just how bad I was when I ended up spending several days in my pj’s with exhaustion, a migraine and feeling under the weather. I get migraines and they are usually my body telling me to sleep more, drink more (water!) or eat something healthier than a cheese and onion roll, bag of crisps and a diet coke for lunch – often it’s probably telling me all three! The more tired I get the worse my diet gets.
Self-care has a bit of a bad wrap with many thinking it’s a luxury, particularly if you are struggling to manage life. I disagree though, it’s essential and what gives us the energy to carry on. I’m not talking hour long sessions at the gym and weekends away with friends (fabulous if you can) but little things like focussing on your breathing for a few minutes every day, going out for a walk (15 minutes is great and helps to get those steps in). These are small things but they make a huge difference to how you feel and they give your body time to rebalance and kick start your parasympathetic nervous system.
As a parent, looking after ourselves is a duty not a luxury. We owe it to our partner, our children, our family and friends. If we’re not looking after ourselves, we will run out of energy to look after them. Imagine yourself as water well and every day you give out water to your children and anyone else who needs it. Looking after yourself is the thing that keeps topping up the well with water. Without it the well dries up and you have nothing to give to those who need it. How you top it up will depend on you, different things work for different people. The important thing is that you take the time, preferably every day, to top it up. If you don’t you’ll end up crashed out with exhaustion and no use to anyone.
Whenever I’m working with parents it’s often the first thing we focus on. Very small changes can make significant differences in how we cope and this year I’m really focusing on my own self care and making sure I practice what I preach a bit more!
So, if you want to get started with something really quick, here’s a short breathing exercise you can do. It will help you to kick start your parasympathetic nervous system and help you to feel calmer.
- Breathe in for 4 counts,
- Hold for 2 counts
- Breathe out for 6 counts
Don’t worry to much about the counts, the key it so follow the pattern – in, hold, out. This exercise only takes a few moments but making time for it every day, can make a difference to how you feel.
In the facebook group we are doing a 30 day self-care challenge which started this week. Why not come and join us and get into the habit of looking after yourself. Here’s a link to the group www.facebook.com/groups/connectiveparentingusingnvr. I’m sharing quick and easy ways to look after yourself every day and challenging you to do 1 thing every day. It’s not compulsory but is a way great to starting focusing on you and removing the guilt you might feel about doing it.