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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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The Busy Parent’s Guide to Rest

There is a delicate balance between selfishness and self-sacrifice; it is called self-care. 

Let’s be honest—parenting is like trying to run an 18-plus year marathon without prior endurance training. No one is prepared for this race! Even those who start off strong may find themselves barely able to crawl before the finish line enters their sight. The time and energy we invest into raising our children can leave us exhausted, frustrated and emotionally spent to the point of having little left to give to our families…or ourselves.

Many people believe this is par-for-the-parenting course. However, parental burnout is not something to be overlooked or minimized as it can lead to more than just an overtired mom or short-tempered dad. In fact, any kind of burnout can have serious implications on one’s mental and physical health.

Some signs of parental fatigue (burnout) include:

  • Low energy
  • Low tolerance levels
  • Dreading the day ahead
  • Needing (not just wanting) a break
  • Worrying more
  • Feeling hopeless, depressed or anxious
  • Not wanting to be touched, or just wanting to be left alone
  • Feeling easily overwhelmed by new tasks
  • Battling feelings of resentment or guilt

If you are experiencing one or more of these signs, it may be time for an honest self-evaluation and some serious self-care. Many parents, moms especially, feel guilty for taking time for themselves. But it’s imperative to put your own oxygen mask on first!

Whether you’ve got a little time or a lot of time, here are some ways to take a moment to reconnect with yourself (you know, that person you were before your Super Mom/Dad persona took over):

1 Minute 

  • Breathe. Box breathing is a mindful breathing technique endorsed by the Navy SEALS and used to destress. Start with a minute and work your way up to five.
  • Watch something that will make you laugh, i.e. cat videos on Youtube.
  • Energize or relax yourself with a quick stretch.
  • Turn on the faucet and gently douse your face with cool water, or mist yourself with rose water for an uplifting moment of refreshment.
  • Drink a glass of water and take your vitamins.

10 minutes

  • Savor a hot cup of tea or coffee. Play relaxing music or nature sounds for added ambience.
  • Try “earthing” or “grounding”—walking barefoot outside in order to physically connect with nature in order to improve one’s health.
  • Begin a midday meditation practice to clear your mind and keep you energized for the remainder of the day.
  • Declutter one small space—a drawer, your purse or makeup bag—for a quick feeling of accomplishment.

30 minutes to 1 hour

  • Exercise! Do it for your health, for confidence, to destress and for fun. For extra motivation and the added social benefits, look into group fitness classes at your local gym or county Parks & Rec.
  • Escape the everyday by immersing yourself in a great book.
  • Pamper yourself with a bubble bath, massage or pedicure.
  • Give yourself permission to put your health first. Attend a therapy session, get a dental cleaning or go in for your annual physical.
  • Do something creative or journal.

Bonus tip…go out with a friend. They probably need it, too!

Rhiannon Ellis
Rhiannon Ellis is a freelance writer and author, a fitness instructor, and owner of Impact Fitness. She resides with her two children in her native Williamsburg and on their mini-farm in Charles City.

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