No one ever said parenting was easy. Of course, your children make all of the effort worth it, but it’s also important to acknowledge the challenges you go through and the stress you face daily. Being a parent of little ones is hard work.
When you do find yourself with a second to yourself thanks to a long nap, a generous relative who volunteers to babysit or a few minutes of quiet play, it’s important to make the most of the time you have. While it may feel pressing to be productive, it’s important to relax and unwind, too.
Try to avoid the impulse to neglect yourself for the sake of your kids— after all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Here are some ways you can balance parenting and mental health when you find yourself with a few moments of peace.
In the same way that mindfulness exercises are effective at grounding you in the present moment and helping you connect with your surroundings, pet therapy can be an effective tool for calming down in a short amount of time.
In a study published in Behavioral Medicine, it was found that hugging someone or your furry friend for 20 seconds helped to lower systolic blood pressure and stress in response to an anxiety-producing event. Take advantage of this stress-reducing tool right at your feet.
Take a bath
Sometimes parents feel that cramming in a shower is an impossible task. While a daily bath may be too extravagant for your schedule, taking time to decompress in the tub once a week is definitely achievable.
This activity knocks out a task you need to do anyway but encourages you to take some extra time soaking in the warmth and comfort of a bath. Light some candles and leave your phone elsewhere so you can truly immerse yourself in this rejuvenating activity.
Go for a walk
Spending time outside has plenty of perks for busy parents. Talking a walk on your own is one of the best ways to take advantage of them. You’ll enjoy the low hum of outdoor noises, get fresh air, find time to engage with your own thoughts and get that all-important vitamin D.
Gardening is often claimed to be one of the most relaxing and meaningful activities that are easily available. Whether you’re tending herb pots on your kitchen counter or in the backyard picking fresh produce, this activity can help you decrease stress and put your energy into something that gives back.
Make yourself a snack
All parents know that eating leftovers is an everyday occurrence. It’s a sign of a generous person that you don’t want to waste food, but cleaning up after your kids may mean that you end up missing out on key nutrients yourself.
In order to recenter yourself, take a few minutes to slow down and make a snack you’ll enjoy. Consider what foods feel like a luxury and make one for yourself. Curb grumpiness that comes from hunger and reminds yourself that you’re worth good, healthy food, all at the same time.
Sneaking in ten minutes of reading before bed is a great tool for how rejuvenating yourself and requires very low effort. Reading, unlike scrolling online, can help you to fall asleep and soothe your restless mind.
It’s also an investment in your own mental health, as reading increases knowledge, mental elasticity and the empathy you have for others. Reading is a cheap activity and anyone can find a book that suits his or her taste.
Plan an outing
One of the easiest methods how to rejuvenate yourself is to plan something that you will look forward to. A play date, a family movie night, a weekend vacation or even a special new recipe for dinner can all give you the extra energy you need to get through exhausting days.
You can find free activities, like visiting new parks or plan lavish outings. Regardless, your kids will delight in a new experience and enrichment to your regular routine and you’ll have added meaning to your own day, too.
Chat with a therapist
It can be hard to balance parenting and mental health. While every generation has tried, it’s something we each have to learn anew. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through this journey alone. Licensed professionals who have been in your shoes can help you get through the most tiresome days with strategies for busy parents.
If you’re looking for help finding peace in your day-to-day life, check out Pyramid Online Counseling. Compassionate mental health experts can help you be the best parent you can be in a judgment-free and flexible setting. Get help now.