It’s essential for parents and caregivers to take care of themselves during these times because we’re talking about a marathon, not a sprint. When you listen to the talk on an airplane about oxygen masks, you’re told to put one on yourself first and then on a child. It’s the same principle here. Factoring in self-care to an already full life of work, family and now hybrid learning can be complicated. In fact, it’s usually the first thing to go out the window when people are stressed when it should be one of the last. You have to take care of yourself so you can take care of others. Exercise, nutrition and emotional support are key elements to helping you run this long, arduous race. Here are a few tips:
- Get some physical exercise: Not only will your body and your brain benefit enormously from the endorphins that exercise produces but you will also feel less resentful because you’ve done something good for yourself in the midst of all of the stress in your list. Make a list of two types of activities you could actually do: one at home and one before or after school. For the first list, include taking the stairs or seated/wall yoga poses to do when you need a break. For the second list, identify times and activities of exercise that you ENJOY and want to do. Decide how often you can do something and put it on your calendar with a reminder alarm. The goal is to use your body to help you let go of stress, not to get into the best shape of your life.
- Eat well: Many parent are tired of cooking and shopping so you may have limited food selections or they’re not what you desire. You need fuel for this marathon so make a list of healthy snacks to purchase the next time you go to the grocery store.
- Ask your friends for assistance: People who care about you often feel confused about how to help you so they’re happy to do lend an ear, or bring dinner. When I ask a friend how I could help, she asked me to go to Trader Joe’s and buy her a container of dark chocolate pecan candies. I was so happy to do this. For the next six months I bought her a package of the candies. My friend was very appreciative, and even though it was a small thing, I felt like I was easing her burden in some way.
- Meditation: Take some each evening before bed or each morning as you awaken to be with yourself. Guided meditations on Apps such as Headspace, Mindful or Insight Timer can be a great way to start or end your day (or both) with a sense of personal calm, insight and hope. This internal spacial-ness will assist you as you deal with the chaos of caretaking.