As a parent, it can be tempting to suppress feelings and try to carry on. There are many demands coming from all directions including at work and at home, and the days are full. Your children depend on you. They need you to show up and carry on- or, at least, that can be the perception.
However, considering 1 in 4 of us suffer from a mental health problem at some point in our life, mental wellbeing is something that we need to take seriously.
How to prioritise your mental health
Prioritising your mental health is essential to the overall state of your body, relationships and emotional health.
It may seem an inconvenience to schedule a little time to look after yourself. However, the benefits far outweigh the bother.
Here are some ways to build time into your day to look after your mind:
Learn to say no
If you’re asked to commit to something that feels like more than you can give, don’t be afraid to say no. Overstretching yourself for work, friends or family is detrimental to your wellbeing. It’s ok to put yourself first.
Connect with others
Socialising is positive and healthy, so even if you don’t feel like it, prioritise seeing friends. If time is short, make sure to keep in touch by phone or text. Research shows that socialising is as important for humans as sleep and nutrition!
Spending some of your spare time helping the community has significant benefits for your mental health. Making others feel good makes us feel good too! Do It is a website offering countless part time volunteering opportunities across the country. Alternatively, making an extra effort to help those around you will have the same benefit in micro doses. Perhaps your elderly neighbour needs assistance with their shopping, or a relative could use your help with a DIY task- anything goes.
Get out in nature
Nature has incredible therapeutic effects on the brain. So much so, that in Japan ‘forest bathing’- spending quiet time in the woods- has become a phenomenon. All you need is to head to the nearest forest, beauty spot, nature reserve or park and enjoy a walk or a run. You could also try gardening, a hobby which roots you in nature and is known to reduce stress and anxiety.
It can all feel like too much hassle, but the way you feel after exercise can’t be replaced. Not only does exercise help to release stress, but it also gets the feel-good endorphins pumping in your brain. Exercise can be as simple as going for a daily walk, or as involved as joining a local class. There is an activity for everyone.
Eat to beat stress
You might feel like cracking open a giant bag of crisps or sweets in front of the TV, but hold off; what you eat has a dramatic effect on the brain. Choose protein to help regulate your mood, and fruits and vegetables contain the vitamins you need to stay well. Avoiding sugar helps lessen anxiety, too.
Make time for fun
Schedule in regular fun activities, be it with the kids or without. Getting out of the house and enjoying yourself helps boost your happiness levels. It needn’t cost the earth either- even a game of bowling or a free trip to the sea will do the trick. Meeting up with friends can be low cost, and ticks the ‘socialising’ and ‘fun’ boxes in one go. Make sure you plan ahead with things to look forward to- it makes a big difference to your stress levels.
Further help and information
This blog has been adapted from an article on DAD.Info.
DAD.info, now part of Spurgeons is Europe’s largest advice and support website for fathers. DAD.info was established in 2008 as a new generation men’s lifestyle channel and the leading voice for Dads. DAD.info aim to celebrate the changing role of Dads with engaging, helpful, practical, entertaining resources and content for every stage of their journey. It is home to the largest connected community of active, involved Dads through its interactive forum, providing great peer to peer support and advice for what can be one of the most challenging and rewarding life experiences.