I fish. It’s what I do. Some have asked me what in the world draws me to stand by a pond and throw a little feathered hook in the water time and time again, often with very few results. I fish so I can de-stress.
It’s mindless (somewhat) and I can leave all the emotion, anxiety, and uncertainties behind me for just a little while. If you fish, you understand this. I can clear my head before re-entering the real world. Fishing is my self-care.
Self-Care… It’s become a popular term that’s popped up in conversations around health, mindfulness, and stress. You do self-care when you do any kind of action deliberately in order to care for your mental, physical, or emotional health. And it’s widely thought to be effective in reducing anxiety and stress.
How apropos in our current state. At perhaps no other time in recent memory has it been so important to stay healthy. Stress and anxiety are at an all-time high. People are stuck at home. Routines are turned upside down. Family members are spending way more time with each other than they are used to.
I’d say self-care is a precious commodity right about now.
I don’t know about you, but in my house, it’s easy to give our kids a schedule that includes some healthy activities. However, it’s extremely difficult for me personally to get into a routine of self-care activities. My game is so thrown off by the stress of our circumstances. And it’s sometimes a fight just to get me away from the computer screen.
But it has to happen. As parents, we’ve got to be a good example and practice self-care right now. And here’s why:
You can’t give what you don’t have.
Meaning, if you want your kids to practice self-care, you need to self-care. You’ve got to fill your tank so you have it in you to help them fill their tanks. When you self-care, you’re better able to handle feelings of anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and stress. This is so important so that these emotions don’t get the best of you.
Pay attention to yourself. Keep an eye on the radar of your emotional state. Take the time to do some things each day that help you deal with all the chaos that is going on.
- Go for a walk. Get some fresh air. Let the sun shine on your face for a little while.
- Meditate or pray. Sing (out loud).
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Do push-ups. Or go for a run. Or practice yoga. Anything to stretch, strengthen, and move the body.
- Eat clean. Healthier food keeps your energy up. Drink plenty of water.
- But, every few days, sneak in that Oreo. Because stress.
- Read a book. Watch a documentary. Keep your mental game strong.
- Communicate your needs to the people that love you. Let them know when you need to be alone. And let them know when you need to be with them. Get plenty of both.
These are just a small number of suggestions for self-care. Search online for other ideas and find out what feeds your health—body, and soul. And then do it. Regularly.
Of course, we don’t self-care simply for our own needs. Our families are depending on us. That’s why it’s so important that we set a good example of self-care as parents.
Your moments of self-care are the teachable moments for your kids.
As parents, every little thing we do is seen. Young eyes are watching how we handle ourselves—especially in the midst of anxiety and stress. They take their emotional cues from what they see in us. “Do as I say, not as I do” is a terrible parenting style—particularly when it comes to self-care. They need to see you handling your health in a positive way.
It’s okay for your kids to know you are anxious or fearful. But it’s so much more important that they see how you handle your anxiety and fear. When they see you taking care of yourself, you are modeling that for your children.
And think about this: when this whole pandemic, self-quarantine, social-distancing era is behind us, your kids are going to use what they’ve learned from you for the rest of their lives. I hope this is the last time we ever have to go through this, but it won’t be the last time your kids will experience stressful times. It may sound funny, but your example of self-care leaves a legacy.
Parents, take care of yourself. For your sake, and for your kids. They’re counting on you.