Mental health and the importance of teaching children self-care at an early age – Daily Press

A few months ago, I was very exhausted and at the end of wit. Working on multiple projects simultaneously was catching up to me. As a small business owner with a young family, I couldn’t find a way to manage all aspects of my life. After missing an important committee meeting due to brain fog and a lack of rest, I knew it was time to start prioritizing self-care.

The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as “the practice of taking an active part in protecting one’s well-being and happiness, particularly during periods of stress”. Recently, society has focused a lot on mental health and self-care. But how do we, as parents with busy schedules, make time for self-care? And more than that, how should we approach the issue of self-care with our children?

After I almost ran out, I could no longer use busyness as an excuse. Working on empty ground left little energy for my husband, my children, and my career. Therefore, I made major lifestyle changes to improve my mental health. I was serious about exercising at least three to four times a week – even if it was only for 15 minutes. I set a bedtime because a lot of my fatigue came from staying up late at work. To help me relax after the boys fell asleep, I incorporated a nighttime routine of tea drinking and devotional reading. Chamomile tea is soothing and Bible verses refresh my soul. I have noticed a significant improvement in my mental, physical and emotional health since including these practices in my daily routine.

I’ll be honest – some days I fail to exercise or go to bed as early as I planned. But no matter how my day ends, I do my nighttime routine religiously, even if I’m out of town. It helps me de-burden and feel focused after a long day. Because my health is now a top priority, I practice this self-care routine most days. But when I don’t, I’ve learned to give myself a blessing.

While I’ve highlighted three main self-care practices, there are many others that I incorporate daily, weekly, or monthly. The one thing everyone can do is take a walk and get some fresh air. I always feel rejuvenated after going for a walk in nature. Another suggestion is to perform a bubble bath with aromatherapy. There’s just something about soaking in a bathtub that instantly makes me feel at peace. The simplest example of self-care is to take five minutes and practice deep, intentional breathing. I close my eyes, inhale and let out all the tension and anxiety. However you choose to show yourself some love and care, make sure you take the time to recharge.

It is also important for our children to see us prioritizing our mental health and well-being. When they notice that we are taking time for ourselves, it assures them that it is okay to do the same. Often, children model the behavior of their parents. Let’s show them that it’s healthy to unplug and unwind on a regular basis.

We should also check in with our children and ask them how they are feeling. By normalizing talking about feelings regularly, you create a safe place in which your children will trust you. When your children open up to you, offer them support without judgment. Focus on listening first before giving advice right away – sometimes our kids simply want to feel heard. And if you have teens who aren’t in the business of sharing their feelings, be patient with them, and keep reminding them that you’re available to listen when they’re ready to talk.

We can even help our children develop their own self-care routines. Whether they are coloring, writing or doing yoga, their activities should invoke relaxation and joy. We should not wait until there is a problem to stress the importance of mental wellness. We must advocate for them early so that they discover their own coping mechanisms to deal with life’s stresses.

As parents, we have a huge privilege and a huge responsibility in preparing our children for success. We do this by taking care of our mental and emotional health first, and then leading our children to do the same. When we model healthy self-care practices, and normalize rest and relaxation, we provide a pattern for prioritizing wellness that our children can use for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Jade L.Ranger works as a pharmacist at The Prescription Shoppe, a full-service pharmacy she co-owns with her husband. She is the mother of two children, ages 4 and 8, and has recently published her first book, The Mustard Seed Mindset, available at Amazon.com

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