Examples of Self-Care

Physical Self-care

Anything that makes you feel good — walking, running, hiking, boxing, surfing, cycling, swimming…the key is that you love doing it.

Start your morning with 5 minutes of stretching.

Find a great yoga teacher in your area or start your morning with your own home practice.

Play your favorite song and dance around the house, or better yet, go out dancing with your partner.

Book a massage or ask your partner for one.

Change your diet
Make one small change to your diet for the week- drink more water, cut out dairy, sugar, or gluten (or all three!), drink a green juice each day.

Take a nap
Even a 20-minute cat nap can do wonders. This one seems impossible for parents, but try scheduling it and taking turns with your partner on a weekend.

Take a bath
Pour some Epsom salts into a nice hot bath and relax for twenty minutes before you go to bed. Finish by rinsing off with cold water to bring your body temperature down. (I do this as often as I can — it’s great for a deep sleep.)

Change your sleep habits
Sleep affects every aspect of your life and is the most important factor in your overall health. If you are not clocking enough, I highly recommend checking out the book Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson and following some of his sleep smarter strategies.

Emotional Self-Care

There’s a saying in psychology, “name it to tame it.” Writing out your feelings has an instant calming effect.

Gratitude journal
Gratitude is the antidote to anxiety, fear, sadness, and overwhelm. The moment we shift into gratitude, we make room for a richer, more present experience. Keep a journal on your nightstand and every night before you go to bed, write down three things you are grateful for. When you wake up, start your day by writing three more.

I think everyone should be in therapy! At least for a little while. Especially if you are struggling and feeling stuck, therapy can help you process your feelings of overwhelm and reconnect with your true self, ultimately making you a better partner and a better parent.

Connecting with a friend
We are hard-wired for connection. Having close friendships is an essential part of our health and well-being. Make it a priority to connect with friends, no matter how busy you get with your kids. Nothing substitutes for quality time with friends, but if you are in the midst of complete overwhelm, try to find time for a quick phone call or at the very least send a text message.

Date night with your partner
Hands down one of the best things you can do for yourself and your marriage — aim for weekly.

Moms’ night out
Connecting with other moms without being interrupted every five seconds by your kids is must! At least once a month, make a point to get out with your girlfriends.

Plan a day or an afternoon to go through your house and declutter. Clean out your closets, the kids’ toys, the cupboards, etc. Your physical space has a direct impact on your emotional state. If your house is a cluttered mess, your internal world is most likely in turmoil as well. There is something powerfully cathartic about getting rid of things you don’t use anymore and reorganizing your living space.

Put all of your devices on airplane mode for an hour.
Take a break from social media. Go a day or even a week, if you can, without going on social media. The benefit of this one cannot be overstated.

Have a good laugh
Watch your favorite comedy or call a friend who always makes you crack up.

Join a support group
There are support groups for everything. Connecting with others who have experienced similar challenges is both validating and healing.

Mental Self-care

Dive into podcasts
There are so many amazing podcasts out there, you can search for anything you are interested in and I guarantee you’ll find one! I listen to them while I’m in the car, doing dishes, working out, folding laundry. Here are my favorites.

I was an avid reader before kids. After having my first son, I don’t think I picked up a non-baby related book for three years. (Yikes.) When I finally started reading again, it helped me reconnect with who I was before having kids and helped me feel more intellectually stimulated.

Have a conversation with a friend or your partner about an interesting topic that- here’s the key- doesn’t pertain to kids. It might feel weird at first, but I promise, you’ll remember how to do it.

Start a project
Is there something you have been wanting to start but haven’t? Start it!! Even if you can only devote a small amount of time each week, do it. Having something that is not related to your kids, something that is yours and yours alone, is so important.

Learn something new
What have you been wanting to learn? Spanish? Painting? Mastering a French pastry? Go for it.

Create a vision board
Imagine your ideal life, then look through magazines or google images that inspire you and represent this ideal life. Cut them out and glue them onto a posterboard. Hang it up somewhere you will be able to look at everyday. Another option is to make a vision journal- do the same thing, but glue the images into a journal that you keep on your nightstand and look at every night before you go to bed.

Spiritual Self-care

Spend time in nature
Go for a hike, take a swim in the ocean (salt water is so healing), or if you don’t have easy access to nature, spend ten minutes lying on the ground looking up at the clouds. This may sound odd, but it is very calming and relaxing.

Even five minutes a day can be a game changer. Having a daily meditation practice has made the biggest impact on my parenting and on my life in general.

Go to a spiritual service
Find a service in your area that is aligned with your belief system and commit to attending. This is a great way to gain perspective and take a break from the demands of parenting a child or children with special needs.

Even if you aren’t “religious” (I am spiritual but not religious), you can still pray. If God isn’t your thing, you can think of it as connecting with something outside yourself- the universe, collective consciousness, nature...call it whatever resonates with you.

Acts of service
Nothing feels better than doing something kind for someone else.

Do something creative
Paint, draw, sing, play an instrument, color (you can even use your kids’ coloring books!), dance, write...doing something creative is a wonderful way to tap into something bigger than yourself.

Listen to a podcast on spirituality
This can be a great substitute for attending a spiritual service. Here is my favorite.