How to Practice Self-Care
So many parents and caregivers put our all into nurturing our loved ones and leave little or nothing for ourselves. All too often our own care and nurturing is put off or abandoned altogether. As my mother often says in her Guyanese accent, “An empty barrel can’t give no water.”
If we do not take the time to refuel ourselves, the level of care we give will be substandard. Further, if we don’t care for our bodies and minds, we become more susceptible to illness.
So while you may struggle with feelings of guilt when you decide to go to the movies, take an extra long bubble bath, or go for a long walk, experienced caregivers know that making yourself a priority will help you stay upbeat and positive for the long haul.
The most basic self-care and health advice is often overlooked, but I’ll repeat them for you anyway!
♥ Feed yourself! Eating balanced meals with plenty of protein and good fats will keep you energized.
♥ Avoid excessive consumption of highly processed foods and sugary treats as they will rob you of precious energy.
♥ Drink plenty of water — not alcohol! — to keep your brain functioning with fewer energy slumps.
♥ Take the time to just breathe. When we are stressed we tend to hold our breath or breathe shallowly. Deep breathing is known to lower stress hormones and increases vagal tone which is linked to a calmer brain state that is needed for fast recovery and resilience. When I teach clients to meditate, we always begin with a simple breath awareness meditation.
If you are particularly amped up with anger, frustration or irritability, I suggest you add a practice of meridian tapping, like Thought Field Therapy (TFT) to your self-care regimen. Studies show that people who were severely stressed, depressed and anxious felt relief when using TFT tapping, and it was correlated with increased heart rate variability. In fact, there are many energy psychology practices along with TFT that show great promise for lowering stress rapidly. Don’t be afraid to try them as an alternative to medication — and as a preventive measure for avoiding burnout!
Wishing you joy, love and optimal wellbeing,
If you are a caregiver and want free stress-relieving meditations and mindfulness resources, please check out my Stress Less Chill Kit at www.AndreaPennington.com/StressLess