As we look at Mental Health as parents, we tend to focus all our time and energy on our children. It’s brilliant to be a devoted mum or dad but you also have to look out for yourself.
Mental health should be an issue in which we all take an interest. We make an effort to eat well to try and be healthy, but when you did you last do something with the aim of improving your psychological health? If you’re struggling with a mental health condition or you want to do more to protect or improve your mental wellbeing, here are some effective coping mechanisms.
Taking time out
We all have days when it feels like you don’t stop, and you’re on the go from the moment you wake up to the minute you try and get to sleep. Life can get hectic sometimes, and it’s important to know when to take a break. If you want an hour or two away from the kids, this doesn’t make you a bad parent. It just means that you’re human. We all love our kids, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with needing or wanting a break. It’s the same with work. After a long meeting or an intense discussion, it’s good to stretch your legs or have a walk in the fresh air for 10 minutes. Find something you enjoy doing, and try and ensure that you have a little time to indulge those passions and hobbies. When you’re making plans, leave some time in your diary for you.
Exercise is one of the most powerful stress-busters out there, and it can also be hugely beneficial if you suffer from anxiety or depression. When your body is moving, you’ll find that it has a positive impact on your mind. Your serotonin levels increase and your body releases endorphins. If you’re not a gym bunny, don’t panic. As long as your heart rate increases and you’re doing something you enjoy, you’ll reap the rewards. Join a local 5-a-side football team or take up rock climbing or get out on your bike. High levels of motivation will enable you to get the most of training sessions, so think about the goals you want to set. Perhaps you want to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats, or you’d like to take part in the London Marathon. Maybe you’ve got a personal best you want to beat for the 100 metres, or you want to improve your handicap with some practice on the greens.
It can be hard enough to admit to yourself that things aren’t quite right, let alone talk to other people, but being honest about mental health issues will help you to move forward. If you don’t want to talk about how you’re feeling with friends or a partner, see your GP or think about making use of counselling services. Sometimes, sharing problems can make them seem much more manageable, and you’ll feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
When you’re a parent, it can be very easy to lose sight of the importance of your health because you’re so busy worrying about your children and putting them first. Mental health issues affect a large proportion of people, and we should all be familiar with the kinds of problems we may encounter.
I’m no expert but if you feel you need to talk to someone I’m more than happy to be a soundboard, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details and I’ll get back in touch.