“It’s the fact that presently, I feel choked”, Cynthia said during one of her Parent Coaching sessions. “I can’t seem to function at home without getting irritated and yelling. I am scared for the relationship I share with my child. She seems to be becoming distant” she continued. “She wants to speak with me about a thing, but I see her struggle to find out what my mood is like. I feel this guilt. Like I’m I’m I’m ….” Then the uncontrollable tears start to flow.
In moments as these, I allow my client let it all out, while holding space for them – “I’m here, Ma’am. I’m listening. I’d be here …” Then she’d go on and on and on.
Humans are very complex beings having various aspects; Spiritual, Physiological, Psychological, and Social. Self-Care means taking actions to improve these various aspects of oneself. It is, letting loose. Freeing oneself of the very many luggage we carry on that keep us from moving ahead. It means to look after oneself. To provide the needs of oneself. As the National Institute of Mental Illness puts it, it is the action we do to improve our health.
According to Neuroscience, healthy development of the lower parts of the brain, lead to healthy development of the upper parts of the brain, and the strategies we often think to be self-care strategies are linked to these lower brain areas. This means that, to care for the self, we would have to act out an activity. Self-Care is less about words and more about body-based experiences.
The upper part of the brain is involved in executive actions, and when the body is cared for. This upper brain part stays in the state of calm. At such a state, we are able to see alternatives, and can make better choices. We respond and not react, and as Michael Talbot-Kelly puts it, “We move from pessimism to optimism”.
To keep this upper brain part in the state of calm therefore, the lower parts of the brain will need to receive some support from the activities that help us care for the self.
Due to the very many activities we get involved in daily as parents, and the fact that guiding a child often needs us to make critical decisions, being in the state of calm is a very important activity that should not be overlooked. The Australian Childhood Foundation has provided self-care activities they named the A-Z of Self-Care. They are;
A – Aromatherapy, art, apps
B – Bath, breathing, bike riding
C – Caring for others, caring for myself, cooking
D – Dancing, driving, drawing, drumming
E – Eating, exercise
F – Friends, fun, flying
G – Gardening, grand parenting, gliding
H – Hugs, humour, holding hands
I – Imagining, igloo building
J – Jokes, joyful activities
K – Knitting, kite flying, kisses
L – Laughter, loving, laughter, lacrosse
M – Massage, meditation, mindfulness
N – Novels, new experiences, Naps
O – Orienteering, opera, origami
P – Playing, parties, pets
Q – Quiet time, questions, quests
R – Reading, relaxation, rogaining
S – Shopping, sleeping, swinging, singing, sweeping
T – TV, talking, training
U – Uplifting experiences or people
V – Vacuuming
W – Whistling, walking
X – X-box, xylophone playing
Y – Yoga
Z – Zumba, zoo visits
For Cynthia, that overwhelmed parent who has to ‘put on many shoes’ every day of her life, daily Self-Care is non-negotiable. So here’s what I would almost always suggest to do every morning;
- Drink water to wash up your kidneys (Like I put it for the children. LOL.)
- Search out some quiet time.
- In the quiet time, meditate, pray, study
- Journal – (My journal is full of plenty gist. Things like: What my previous day was like, what I’m thankful for, what I look forward to doing, etc.)
- Then of course, find a way to connect with loved ones.
True that! Some days, we feel uninterested, but yeah? I’ve taught me to know that it is in those moments when I feel disinterested, that my upper brain needs the activity the most! Plus, the beauty about getting engaged in the activities is that I am regulated enough to think of creative ways to provide the safe spaces the children in my care need to thrive! You can tell YOU this too!