Looking after yourself

Published by Baby Bunting on Monday, January 28, 2019

Providing love and care to your baby, toddler or child is both challenging and rewarding. With so much time and energy going into this role, it can be easy to lose sight of your own self-care and wellbeing. But as easy as it is to get swept up in the responsibilities of parenthood and caregiving, you mustn't must not forget to look after yourself too.

How to think about wellbeing

Wellbeing is a slippery concept that changes with the context of the situation. Broadly speaking, and in the sense of you as an individual, wellbeing can be defined as your feelings of self-esteem, self-worth, happiness and resilience to the stresses of life.

Wellbeing is flexible and is influenced by both your external and internal worlds. It can change from day-to-day and year-to-year, shifting with your emotions, circumstances and relationships.

Why your wellbeing is so important

Your wellbeing is vital to the success of your child. Parents and caregivers who are able to tackle life’s challenges and remain optimistic about the future are well-positioned to provide a loving and secure environment for their children. This, in turn, enables your child to grow and develop.

If you feel like your days are unrewarded, or you have little to look forward to, it can bring you down and make you more susceptible to illness, irritability and exhaustion. Although there may be elements of your life that you don’t like (everyone has those!) it’s important to include in your life those things that make you happy, feel stronger and more hopeful about the future.

That’s not to say that you have to feel positive, upbeat and optimistic all the time – that’s impossible! But you must consider your own interests sometimes and practice self-care to ensure that you feel fulfilment and reward for the things you do and the choices you make each day.

Exercise

One of the easiest, quickest and cheapest ways to feel positive is through exercise. You don’t need expensive gear, equipment or a gym membership – all you need is a bit of time and yourself.

Exercise – even gentle exercise – will provide you with a range of health and wellbeing benefits. These include:

  • releasing endorphins and lowering your stress levels
  • improving your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health
  • helping you to maintain a healthy weight
  • improved energy levels
  • an improved quality of sleep
  • opportunities for socialising.

Visit your state or local government website to find out about a range of healthy activities, initiatives and resources in your area.

Diet

A balanced diet not only helps you to maintain a healthy weight, it also provides you with energy, fibre and plenty of the right vitamins and minerals to help your body fight off infection and function at its peak. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating outlines the types and proportions of food that are recommended to ensure optimal health.  

Support network

Your family and friends play a key role as your support network. It’s important to set time aside to maintain and build your social and family relationships. These people are your link to the past and are likely to be there in the future – they are part of your identity and can help you feel grounded when things feel like they’re spiralling out of control.

Talking about your feelings, hopes and challenges with family and friends can be a great way to declutter your thoughts and anxieties, and to get open and honest feedback from those who care about you most.

Take a break

Sometimes you just need to take a step back. A break from your role of responsibility – no matter how brief – can do wonders for resetting yourself and alleviating your stress levels. Be up front and honest with your support network and they will jump at the chance to lend a hand and help you get back on track.

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