8 Self-Care Strategies for Stressed Parents
Parenting is stressful even under the best of situations, but add on dealing with childhood trauma in your family and that stress becomes magnified. Caring for and helping your child with trauma heal is a full-time job, but if you don’t also take time to care for yourself, it can lead to some negative consequences.
Chronic stress can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, weight issues, digestive issues, chronic headaches and relationship problems. Studies have also found that chronic stress puts you at risk for other serious medical issues such as heart disease, asthma and even Alzheimer’s.
We understand that you may feel guilty about practicing self-care but because of these serious health effects, it is very important that you prioritize it. Just remember, that you can’t give your adopted child with trauma the care and love they need to heal unless you care for yourself. You are the most important part of your child’s “care team” and you need to be healthy in order to care for and support them to the best of your ability.
There are many different types of self-care strategies to help you combat stress. It’s key that you experiment with those different strategies to figure out which works best for you. To get you started on your self-care journey, here are some of our favorites.
1 | Meditate + Calming Breaths
Even a few minutes of meditation can help you feel refreshed. Practicing meditation allows you to be in the moment and clear your mind. To help guide you through meditation, download an app to your phone.
When you don’t have time to meditate but feel stress bubbling up, practice calming breaths. Focus on taking deep breaths and then letting them out slowly.
2 | Exercise + Eat Healthy
When you take care of your body and mind, your body and mind can take care of you. Make sure that you exercise and eat a nutritious diet. Exercising not only keeps you in shape but it also releases endorphins which can lift your mood. Get outside when you exercise too. Researchers have discovered that spending time in nature can lessen anxiety levels. And though it may be easy to grab an energy drink or sugary snack, those won’t give you the energy you need to get through your day. Instead, eat nutrient-dense foods that feed your body and mind.
3 | Do Something You Love
Doing something that you love will always put a smile on your face. So whether you like painting, knitting, building model planes, gardening or hiking, carve out some time each week to do what you love. Even just 5 or 10 minutes can boost your mood substantially.
4 | Write in a Journal
Putting your feelings down on paper is a form of release. Because writing it all down is a form of acknowledgement, it can also help you to work through whatever you’re feeling. Gratitude journals are also wonderful. Take time each day to write down what you are grateful for. When you are feeling down, flip through it to remind yourself of everything that you love and are grateful for.
5 | Create a Retreat
Make your bedroom or bathroom a retreat. Remove clutter and maybe even do a little redecorating. Make your bed cozy and add a chair to get in some reading. Make your bathroom a spa so that you can enjoy a hot bath.
6 | Treat Yourself
Treat yourself by giving yourself permission to spend a little money on yourself. Maybe you get a new haircut or go for a massage. Maybe you buy yourself a new tool or a purse. Whatever it is, it’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while!
7 | Spend Time with Friends
Spend some time with other adults by taking time to hang out with friends. Do something fun together such as going out for dinner, going on a shopping trip or seeing a movie together. Maintaining these social connections is an integral part of self-care. Try scheduling a regular get-together with friends so that you have something to look forward to.
8 | Ask for Help
When self-care isn’t enough, make sure you reach out for help when you need it. Speak with a trusted friend or family member or reach out to a counselor, therapist or religious leader. Remember there is no shame in reaching out for help when you need it.
Caring for yourself means that you are able to better care for and support your adopted child with trauma. Make sure that you find a self-care routine that works for you and then stick to it. And when writing in a journal or getting some exercise isn’t enough, ask for help. If you want to talk with other parents who understand what you are going through, join our Facebook group for parents of children with trauma.