Last week, we had parent mental health day. I posted a poll on Instagram @thecaterpillarclinic asking my followers the following question: Do you prioritise your mental health to avoid burn out? I was struck that 100% of them answered no! Why is this? Why do we struggle to take a time out, to ask for help, to prioritise the self?
Parenting is hard at times and when we are parenting at ‘full capacity’, when our minds and bodies feel physically exhausted and ‘full’, parenting is even harder. If we are carrying thoughts, feelings or physical sensations that occupy our day to day, it makes it harder for us to parent in the way we want to.
Research gathered by Stem4org as part of World Parental Mental Health day found that 4/10 parents are struggling with mental health difficulties and that 9/10 said their mental health suffered as a result of the pandemic. Lots of parents are struggling, but why are so few seeking support or prioritising their own wellbeing?
This needs to change!
How can we begin to prioritise our mental health and wellbeing in general and why should we?
Firstly, if you do have significant mental health problems, it is important to get the proper support for this. You may be suffering from difficulties like anxiety, depression or PTSD related to birth or medical complications or disability. If you are, seeking professional help can really make a significant difference in how you cope with day to day life. Easing your symptoms just a little can make a massive change. You can get advice on local therapeutic supports by speaking with your GP. Don’t Hesitate to reach out.
Talking to someone about your challenges is incredibly helpful in beginning to make things feel that little bit easier. If you don’t want to talk to a professional, or you feel you might want to start with someone you know first, even talking to a friend or family member can be enough to ease the burden of trying to manage it alone.
For day to day wellbeing it’s about balance. What is tipping you over the edge and resulting in poor coping? Write it down and consider problem solving ways to reduce the burden. Can you reduce time spent on certain areas? Can you seek help for any other area?
Then consider ‘You Time’. What time during the day do you have for you? Even 5-15 minutes can be enough for yourself to reset and ease some of the burden you’re carrying. Consider ways you can get this time and consider what works for you during this time to reduce stress. Is it a cup of tea, a book, music, meditation, relaxation exercise….? Find out what will give you that release and see about prioritising it. It might seem hard to begin with so start with 5 minutes a day and go from there.
Then think about what physical activity you can add into your day too as physical exercise and movement can reduce stress. Can you manage a run, a class, a home workout, a sea swim (cold water works wonders on resetting the physical body and personally it definitely works for me. Try a cold shower if you don’t have access to the sea) or even walks in nature (research tells us it works).
Once you begin to prioritise your mental health and wellbeing, you should notice that your capacity for your kids’ challenges increases. By easing some stress, you free up some space in your emotional and physical tank. You should then see an improvement in your ability to manage meltdowns and day to day challenges as well as in general just feeling better within yourself.
Let me know how you get on. I can also help in the following ways;
- One to one consultation to discuss your parental wellbeing or mental health
- The trauma workshop will help you get a handle on PTSD that might play a role following birth complications or dealing with medical interventions of any kind.
- The understanding behaviour workshop talks all about how to understand the role of your mental health and wellbeing in managing behavioural problems at home.