As a parent, your mental health matters. While parenting is a demanding endeavour where you strive to give your child what you can offer, do not ignore your own mental well-being.
Here are some tips on how you can stabilise yourself as a parent and look after your mental wellness.
Understanding mental health
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Mental illness is not a sign of weakness. Neither is it anyone’s fault for having a mental illness. Reasons for mental illness include biological factors, emotional triggers as well as stressful demands in life. Having good mental health includes thinking, coping and acting positively despite everyday life stresses.
Rather than allowing ourselves to react to moments of crisis, which could destabilise us, we need to be proactive in managing our emotional strength and mental resilience to overcome challenges, protecting ourselves and our loved ones.
Your mental health has an impact on your children
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A child’s healthy development is largely dependent on the adults in his or her life, ranging from parents to caregivers such as relatives and any other adult role models. Parents who struggle with the lack of resources and support, while unable to cope with mental health challenges, will inevitably affect their children.
Anger, disappointment, fear and worry can be passed on from parent to child. Over time, your child will not feel safe with you if he or she detects an unstable temperament.
Ways to help yourself
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1. Watch what you eat and drink
Although parenting often feels like a race for time, remember to have regular meals and drink sufficient water. Sugar can cause ups and downs in your moods. Avoid stocking up your pantry with sugary snacks.
To make drinking water fun for yourself and your family, try infusing your pitcher of water with different flavours of your choice with natural ingredients.
Watch this quick video to see how to make infused water with simple ingredients like fruits and mint:
2. Get enough rest and prioritise your sleep
Yes, getting sufficient sleep is not only for your children but for yourself as well. Stop using any gadgets 30 minutes before going to sleep. If you do not have a bedtime routine yet, drinking chamomile tea or doing breathing exercises helps to relax your mind and body.
3. Have a routine that includes downtime for yourself
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Anticipate your daily activities and establish a routine that works for you. Besides looking after your family’s needs, take time for yourself to relax. If you can, schedule the more demanding and important activities at the start of your day. Leave the smaller and unimportant ones later so that you can wind down as the day is ending.
4. Plan your time and finances for the desired work-life balance
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Having a healthy work-life balance does not mean you have the same number of hours spent at home and work. This means that you can accomplish your different roles seamlessly without sacrificing one for the other.
If you need to cut back on work to make time for your family, manage your finances accordingly. Similarly, if you need to work more to make ends meet, seek support from your network to ensure that your needs and those of your family can still be met despite your long working hours. Communicate with your partner to get the support you need.
5. Feed your soul
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Get back to your previous hobby or learn a new one that just simply makes you happy. It could be painting, baking, or gardening.
This can even be done with your kids. Learner Net has lots of online classes that you or your child can enrol in.
Related Article: How to help children discover their interests and aspirations
6. Make time for physical activities
Exercise promotes a decrease in stress hormones, distracts you from negative thoughts, promotes confidence, and serves as a good source of social support if you work out with others. Play sports with your family or with others to unwind.
7. Connect with other parents
Talk to other parents, who may be your friends or family about the struggles that you are facing in your personal life or as a parent. You may be having the same issues and will be able to support one another through difficult times.
8. Know where to get help
As a parent, you may be dealing with multiple demands. If you are experiencing a breakdown or know someone who needs assistance or a listening ear, these are the helplines and services available in Singapore:-
- National CARE Hotline: 1800 202 6868
- Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) for ageing, caregiving and mental health: 1800 650 6060
- Care Corner Counselling Hotline (Mandarin): 1800 353 5800
- Brahm Centre Assistline: 6655 0000, 8823 0000 (After operating hours)
- CPH Online Counselling (Marriage and Parenting): www.cphonlinecounselling.sg
- Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800 283 7019, 8511 2678
Taking care of yourself first is not being selfish. It is the single best thing you can do for your children and the people around you.
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