Caring for your family, including children in care, sometimes means that ‘me time’ takes a back seat. The reality is, you need to take time to recharge and refocus so you can be at your best for those you care for. Children need your full attention, they need you to listen and have the energy to roll with the joys and challenges. Without a break, you may start to experience increasing stress levels, poor judgement, sleep issues and feelings of being out of control.
Here are some easy hacks to get you back on track and ensure you take some time for you.
Sleep and the quality of your slumber can have a huge impact on you both emotionally and physically.
What do you do to make sleep part of a self-care routine? Start by thinking about your nightly routine. Are you eating or drinking immediately before bed? If so, it's especially important to stay away from caffeine and sugar, which tend to keep you awake.
Reducing stress is also key. If you have work-related stress, think about the best ways to calm yourself after a hard day or relax more while on the job. Maybe take a shower or use essential oils such as lavender on your pulse points before bedtime.
Next, free your bedroom of distractions such as a television and mobile phone to make sure you are in the best possible place for you to get good REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.
Sleep is restorative for both your body and your mind
You are what you eat! Eating the right foods helps prevent inflammation in the body, and reduces the risk of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Eat more self-care foods such as fatty fish, nuts, blueberries, green leafy vegetables and vegetables like broccoli and carrotsand you will be on the way to better health.
What you eat also affects the bacteria that live in your gut. Following a balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep all works towards supporting a healthy gut, increasing your energy levels and zest for life.
Eat more self-care foods and less processed foods and sugars for better health
Exercise benefits both your body and mind. Not only does exercise increase cardiovascular activity, it also releases endorphins in the brain, increasing your level of happiness and helping to release stress.
Exercise reduces frustrations and clears your mind of worries. In fact, research has shown that even minimal exercise is better than doing nothing. So, walking in the morning, doing stretches before bedtime, dancing in the kitchen or doing whatever it takes to add some exercise into your day is all part of looking after you and practicing self-care.
Exercising brings some balance back into your life.
Nobody likes to say “no” and disappoint others. We feel obligated to say “yes” when someone wants our attention, our time and energy, however when we are stressed or low in energy, we need to recognise that if we don’t stop and take some time out for ourselves we could end up making poor choices or burning out. It may seem hard at first, but saying “no” can be empowering and it also frees up some more time for yourself.
Children learn by what they see. If they see you frazzled, low on energy and putting yourself last, then they are going to think that self-care is optional rather than essential.
Learn to say “no” when something isn’t a priority
Developing a plan for you and those you care for including meals for the week and weekly commitments. Include your ‘me time’ activities on the plan to help you work out your priorities and when you can dedicate that special time for you. It might be as simple as having an uninterrupted cuppa on the back deck for 20 minutes twice a week or going to the movies or for a morning walk with a friend.
Keep the planner in the kitchen, so everyone can see what’s on for the week, and what part they need to play to help make the plan happen.
Have a weekly plan to help manage your time
Whatever you decide to do, make sure your ‘me time’ is regular. Tapping into your network of supports such as older family members, parents, friends or neighbours to help watch the kids for a little while can also be important to help enable time for yourself.
If you don’t do things to fill yourself up spiritually, emotionally and physically you will end up empty. The world needs the happy, fulfilled, best version of you - this way everyone benefits.
Schedule regular 'me time'
Your happiness is important. Those in your care are important. The more you can practice taking time for you, the greater your love of life and appreciation of your family and friends. Self-care can be done in many different ways. Start with little steps, do the things you love and take the time to invest in you.