Minding yourself

It’s very easy to forget about looking after yourself, especially if you’re a parent or carer. All your time and energy can easily be spent looking after others.

ReachOut Parents Youth Mental HealthBut, it’s imperative to take care of your own physical and mental wellbeing, if only to have the strength to keep minding other people.

Time for you

Time is usually the main issue when it comes to minding yourself. If you never seem to be able to find time to wind-down, try to focus on the fact that looking after you is important.

Mowing the lawn can wait until tomorrow and the laundry can hold off for another half an hour. You get the picture.

It’s not that you should neglect these things, just make sure you are looking after yourself. The below five points are things that hopefully aren’t too difficult to bring into your life, but should make an impact on your wellbeing.

Get active

We’re all sick of being told to exercise more, but it really is crucial to our overall health. Regular movement can have a huge impact on not only physical, but also mental health.

  • Endorphins are released when we exercise, making us feel more positive
  • Stress levels often reduce as a result
  • Feeling fitter and maybe toning up or losing a few pounds can do amazing things for self-esteem and confidence
  • Energy levels increase once a routine is established, helping us deal with everything else in life
  • Sleep quality often improves when we exercise regularly, often less time is needed in bed to feel fully re-charged.

What you do doesn’t really matter. Do something you enjoy and try not to bite off more than you can chew.

Try to choose something you can work into your life without too much juggling. It needn’t be expensive or time consuming and if you can get a friend to join in: all the better. Even short, brisk, regular walks can positively impact your health.

Connect

Socialising and staying in touch with friends and people who you can relate to is a huge part of minding oneself.

We all need to blow off steam and connect with people who understand what we’re going through. Old friends are great and making the effort to meet up is important, but we also shouldn’t dismiss the idea of meeting new people.

If you feel lonely or isolated think about joining a groups that meets up on a regular basis, from parent and toddler groups, to men’s sheds organisations.

Set goals

Setting achievable goals is a great way to get a handle on everything going on, or integrating new things into your life.

  • Define what you want to do or achieve

This is the first step when setting goals. If you know exactly what you’re trying to do, you’re more likely to accomplish it. For example if you want more time to yourself, define how much time, an evening a week? Three hours on a Tuesday and Friday?

  • Create sub-goals or steps

This will work for anything, but is especially useful for bigger things like getting fit enough to run a marathon, or clearing out the spare room. Breaking down tasks allows you to focus on what’s immediately manageable.

  • Stay realistic, don’t set unachievable goals

That’s not to say you should set your sights too low, but, the more unlikely the goal, the higher the chance of failure, which is not the aim. The trick is to be realistic, but push yourself enough that you’re actually getting something done.

Relax

No matter how busy life is, or what’s going on, it’s essential for your mental health that you relax. Taking time out for yourself, away from your responsibilities and the daily grind of life will help to get you in gear for dealing with life.

Sports, gardening, reading, taking a bath – everybody has different things they find relaxing. It can be something you fit into your home-life, or you can take a weekly class in something. What you do isn’t really as important as actually doing it.

Many people find it hard to relax. Often feelings of anxiety or guilt can creep in and it’s normal to feel time could be better spent doing other things. Relaxing takes practice, but does pay off once you get into the swing of it.

Experience gratitude

Taking the time to notice and be grateful for what you have helps you focus on the more positive aspects of life. Paying attention to the moment, or living mindfully can have a huge impact on our daily life.

It’s all too easy to slip into negative thought patterns, wishing things were different, seeing the gloomy side to things. Perspective is important – is the glass half full or half empty?

By regularly looking at what you have to be grateful for helps gradually train us to be more positive in general. While your problems won’t have necessarily disappeared, you might be in a better position to handle them.

 

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