There are so many important factors that contribute to poor mental health, but one common issue is that many people focus so much on their children, careers, and household that they forget to take time for themselves. The constant prioritization of everyone else can cause extra stress that is unhealthy.
Make time for yourself. This is especially difficult for parents, especially single parents, because we are told we are “bad” parents if we don’t put our children first. As parents or caregivers we need to make sure we are mentally and physically healthy so that we can successfully take care of others.
Tips and Tricks
- Plan a regular time for “you” time.
- “You” time doesn’t mean you go grocery shopping (unless you love grocery shopping, in which case carry on!). Figure out what “you” time needs to look like. Some people enjoy spending time with their friends, others want quiet time to read.
- Prioritize: Make a list of daily tasks and rate items based on their priority.
- Cut out tasks in your life that aren’t necessary or find a way to do them less frequently. If you have extra financial resources, decide if it might be more beneficial to hire someone to do that task (ie. house cleaning).
- If you have children, use your support system. Ask family to babysit or trade babysitting with a friend. I have friends that I regularly trade off with for babysitting. It works out very well because my son has someone over to play for a couple hours which makes him happy during that time, and then he gets to go visit his friend when we swap back. It works great and it’s an excellent way to take time for yourself or with your partner without spending lots of money on a babysitter.
- Your physical health is part of good self care. Make sure you see your dentist and physician regularly, exercise, sleep well, and eat healthy.
- Check out classes and activities locally. Our community center and local community colleges offer affordable classes and activities.
- Adults: It’s okay to play! There are so many options for play activities such as laser tag, roller skating, paint ball, rec leagues for sports, miniature golf, etc. If you want to stay home, fly a kite in your backyard or color in a coloring book. If you find it soothing, do it.
- Use your “you” time for healthy activities. Please don’t use alcohol or drugs, or any other destructive behaviors, as part of your self care routine.
Also make sure that you’re taking time for the people in your life: relationships matter. Getting your son to baseball practice is not as important as watching their game or spending time outside playing catch. Likewise, you can eat out every night with your partner, but it can hurt your relationship if you spend that time answering emails and phone calls from work.
Listen. Ask questions. Let them know how much you care about them by attending to them: celebrate their successes with them, empathize with their problems at work, and support them when they’re sad.
Here’s a short list of activities that you can enjoy, alone or with family. Some cost money while others just take time. Make your own list or a “bucket list” of activities that you’d like to enjoy during your time. Have FUN!
- Go on a picnic
- Read a book
- Take a bath
- Have a girls/guys’ night
- Go to a movie (going solo is okay!)
- Color or use water paints
- Cook a great meal
- Fly a kite
- Go hiking
- Be a tourist for the day
- Ride a bike
- Play with your pets
- Laser tag
- Play or learn to play an instrument
- Roller skating
- Go swimming
- Wakeup early, sit outside, and enjoy the sunrise
- Learn to sew
- Start a garden
- Take an art class
- Listen to music