Why You Must Practice Self-Care
Parenting can be a psychological drain, and co-parenting with a difficult ex an even bigger one. If you’ve experienced this type of energy drain, you know just how depleting it is. Not only are you physically tired, but you become mentally and emotionally exhausted as well. We may not realize what bad shape we’re in until we completely lose it—either yelling, crying, throwing something or doing all three! Then we use more energy dealing with the fallout of our actions.
This is where I was at a few days ago. I’d been single parenting my two teenagers for three weeks. A chunk of this time was spent unexpectedly facing a Category 5 hurricane while on “vacation” in Hawaii. Suddenly I was plunged into survival mode, frantically buying food and water to last long beyond our scheduled trip, as recommended by local authorities. My 17 year-old daughter was losing it with fear which translated into fighting with me and her 15 year old brother. When I was too drained and exhausted to soothe her she freaked out called my ex in the middle of the night sobbing and declaring what terrible Mother I was.
Thankfully, the hurricane scare only lasted three days as the storm swerved away from our island at the last minute. However,we made may have made it through (physically) unscathed, but the entire psychological ordeal (including a 24-hour return trip with two teens who were not speaking to each other) left its mark from which I needed to recover. I needed to focus on my self-care immediately!
Here’s how I get myself back to center: I write in my journal, pray, meditate, talk to close friends, get extra sleep, exercise, turn off my phone and watch comedy. Taking a lot of quiet time to tune into myself restores my peace and contentment. What works for you? Whatever it is, do it with intention. Deliberately labeling these activities as self-care is key because it soothes our psyche when we generate love and compassion for ourselves.
Having taken steps to care for myself, I feel recharged and ready to handle more (metaphorical) storms. You’ve got to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others put on theirs, right? I can be the Mom I need to be and manage my emotions appropriately so that they don’t flood me and everyone around me. Don’t tell yourself you don’t have time for self-care. You don’t have the time NOT to keep yourself emotionally and physically healthy. In fact, do something kind for yourself after you read this. Promise?