Advent Daily: Practical Strategies for Empowered Parenting: Self Care
December 1, 2016
Day 1: Self -Care
Not unlike when the airline attendant reminds us to "place your own mask over your face before helping your children," we parents MUST remember to care for ourselves in order to best care for our children.
Caring for the "self" can take on many forms and will differ from parent to parent, person to person. Self-care is any activity that renews, refreshes, and refuels. Practicing self-care regularly, is our best defense against common parenting crises. In addition, having sensory reminders at the ready, aids us in those moments when we need quick relief in a parenting crisis!
Parenting is stressful. During a stressful situation the brain signals the release of stress hormones. These chemical substances trigger a series of responses meant to give the body extra energy: blood-sugar levels rise, the heartbeat speeds up, and blood pressure increases. Our body is sent into "fight or flight" mode, and we are deemed incapable, really, to think rationally and respond thoughtfully. Rather, we react to the situation in a way our brain has been designed to react in ANY stressful situation. The problem is, we aren't talking about a life or death situation, generally, and it isn't helpful to be reactive and irrational when dealing with our children. So how do we avoid the "fight or flight" mode with our children?
First, plan your self-care into your life. It can be daily or weekly, but it must be planned. When you are scheduling out your week, always make an appointment or two with yourself. Many of us get caught up in the idea that caring for our self makes us selfish. In fact, not caring for your self, and allowing yourself to be reactive and on-edge with your kiddos, rather than loving and responsive, is not serving anyone. Advent is a time for preparation, and that is exactly how to think of self-care: an opportunity for preparation.
How do you best prepare? In other words, how do you renew, refresh, and refuel?
Common forms of Self-Care:
Any form of exercise. Regular exercise helps us to maintain a good heart rate, good blood pressure, and regulate blood-sugar levels, so we have a better foundation for a healthy, physical response to stress. So, even if exercise isn't your self-care of choice, it goes a long way in preparing you!
Crafting or Creating of any kind!
Cooking or baking
To know what type of self-care works best for you, ask yourself how you feel afterward. Are you calmer? Fresher? More energized? Self-care shouldn't deplete you, it should give you energy and prepare you.
In addition to regularly scheduled self-care, be sure to get plenty of sleep at night and to eat nutritious foods! Being hungry or tired deems you unprepared for anything.
So what about those over-the-top, what else can go wrong kind of days?? Sensory Reminders are crucial. Sensory Reminders can be anything perceived by the senses that remove you, if even for a moment, from a stressful situation. In this moment, you can breathe, slow your heart rate, gather your thoughts, and return to the moment as prepared as possible.
Common Sensory Reminders:
Light a scented candle
Chew a piece of gum
Simply breathe and count to 10
Focus on a photo from a treasured moment
Read a quote or passage that reminds you of the parent/person you aim to be
Hold a yoga pose and breathe for 30 seconds
Even a 10 second Sensory Reminder can serve us well, and, in turn, serve our children better.
Take time today to empower your parenting by scheduling some self-care and lining up your sensory reminder for those extra-stressful moments.
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